Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sailor 'Bit By The Bug'

John Santa of Bridgeport has been looking forward to being out on the water again. This time it's a big trip. His 42-foot "Galadriel" is among the 270-boat fleet taking part in the 100th Newport-Bermuda Race that started Friday. "I'm bit by the bug," said the 63-year old retired president of Santa Energy Services, Bridgeport. "It's refreshing to be out there in this crazy world." The captain of the 11-man crew has taken part in the 635-mile biennial race twice before from Newport, R.I., and done well. His crew is comprised of his son, Devin, as navigator and tactician, and Devin's wife, Beth, who is in charge of bow operation and is the ship's doctor. Both 33, they live in Stratford.In his first time out in 2002, Santa finished first among 17 boats in its class. The second time in 2004 saw him third among 19 others. Competition in this race, attracting boats from around the world, is a little stiffer with 25 boats to worry about. There's also the pesky Gulf Stream that runs right through the course, forcing you to carefully calculate while moving sideways. So even though you might be going south, you're actually going southeast. "We've been watching the Gulf Stream for two months," Santa said. "So we can anticipate what might happen. The winds look bad, too. It's about a four-day trip, but this could take five or six days." Not much sleep is expected with round-the-clock shifts of six hours on and four hours off. Santa is a member of four yacht clubs (New York, Black Rock and Fayerweather in Bridgeport and Pequot in the Southport section of Fairfield). He is teaming up with with two other Pequot boats in a shot for the team trophy. They are 43-foot "Emily," owned by Edwin Gaynor of Fairfield, a veteran of 20 Bermuda races, and 46-foot "Tabasco," owned by John Levinson of Westport, who has done one. Other Pequot boats racing to Bermuda include: Hewitt Gaynor, Fairfield, Edwin's son, "Mireille," 40 feet; William Hubbard, Fairfield, "Lively Lady II," 37 feet; and William Douglas, Stamford, "Goombay Smash," 45 feet.CEDAR POINT TO BERMUDA — Gary Grant and Steve Fisk, both of Cedar Point Yacht Club, Westport, will be sailing "Alibi," a 40-foot J120 in the Bermuda race's double-handed division. That means the Westport residents will be the only two on the boat working in shifts of two hours on, two hours off, with help from autopilot. They've gone double-handed before, winning the Round Block Island Race on Memorial Day Weekend. Further kudos came with the Gerold Abels Trophy for best performance by a double-handed boat and the Harvey Conover Memorial Overall Trophy as the yacht "that has won her class and in the judgment of the flag officers and race committee had had the best performance overall," according to a statement from race officials. Another Cedar Point boat is "Fat City Too," a 39-foot J130. Co-owners are Carl Sherter, Southbury, and brothers Dave and Tom Etter of Hartford, all in the race. John McArthur of Stratford is also in the crew.

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