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A Regatta for Older Sailboats

The St. Petersburg Classic Regatta is taking the idea of racing "classic plastic" to a whole new level, and it's helping raise money for charity to boot.

These days, it sometimes feels as though grand prix raceboats are competing against smartphones to see which cutting-edge design can become obsolete faster, but luckily that’s not the case in most “everyman” regattas. While PHRF fleets are going strong nationwide, the event organizers of the St. Petersburg Classic Regatta have taken the idea of racing “classic plastic” to a new level with an event that’s only open to boats older than 20 years. If this sounds enticing, and you live (reasonably) close to Tampa Bay, start looking at the entry process, as this regatta also serves as a fundraiser for Meals on Wheels, a program that home-delivers hot and nutritious meals to low-income senior citizens. 

The St. Petersburg Classic Regatta is set to take place on January 17 and will be presented by the St. Petersburg Sailing Association and hosted by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, which provides complimentary dockage for raceboats and also hosts a dinner and an awards banquet. This year’s event will feature racing across several divisions, with the cruising class commanding the biggest numbers. Additionally, trophies are awarded for non-performance related merits, including the prettiest boat, the oldest boat and the oldest skipper awards. A separate Good Neighbor Trophy will be awarded to the boat that makes the largest donation to Meals on Wheels.

The sixth-annual St. Petersburg Classic Regatta is expected to attract 60 boats, making it one of the more popular regattas on Florida’s west coast. “Last year was spectacular—we really stepped it up, and we hope to do so again this year,” said Gerry Douglas, the VP and designer of Catalina Yachts. “Somehow, seeing old boats help out old folks seems like a pretty good idea.” Last year, the event raised $10,500 for Meals on Wheels, which was originally founded in St. Petersburg in 1968 (before becoming a nationwide program), and readers are gently reminded that you don’t need to compete to donate.

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