Annapolitan Jim Brady extended his virtually unbroken winning streakof the last year when he took the top slot last weekend in the J/22 Midwinter Championship Regatta at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club in Florida.

He narrowly beat J/22 archrival Brad Read of Newport, R.I.,in a tie-breaker for the title.

Two races were sailed Friday, three on Saturday, and the series concluded with a single contest on Sunday, one event short of the planned seven-race schedule. Winds throughout the regatta were light and variable, and virtually disappeared during Sunday's sixth and final race of the series.

"On Saturday there was some breeze at times," Brady said, "but it was really puffy, like it was blowing five with gusts at 10, which is how we got an eighth in the last race that day. The rest of the time it was really light."

Two other members of theAnnapolis J/22 fleet, Dave Scott and Jim Hayes, also traveled to St.Pete to race in the event, and placed ninth and 15th, respectively, in the 35-boat fleet.

"It was another light-air Florida regatta," Scott said. "The last race, on Sunday, probably should have been canceled. It was totally drifting conditions. In the earlier races, though, the yacht club did a pretty good job moving the marks around."

Brady, who recently was named 1990 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and isthe reigning world champion in both the J/22 and J/24 classes, beat Read in four of six races. Both Read and Brady had a pair of aces among their final scores in the series, which included a worst-race throwout. But Brady's scores included a second-place finish as his third-best, while Read's next-best down from his two aces was a third -- the deciding factor on which the tie was broken.

Sailing with Bradywere his 1990 world championship-winning teammates Brad Dellenbaugh of Massachusetts and Steve Inman of Texas.

Brady and Read were tied at the end of the series' third race and continued to stay close, though Read was ahead at the end of the fifth. With the throwout affecting the final scoring at the sixth race in the series, to win the regatta Brady had to finish no worse than fourth in the final race, while Read had to come in worse than his third-race seventh-place finish.

"At that point we had nothing to lose," Brady said. "We couldn'tbe worse than third in the regatta no matter what, so we were prettyaggressive, a lot more than we normally are, and pushed the line really hard. Brad pushed it even harder, and he was over early and we weren't."

Scott, who had been fourth in the fleet going into the last race, said both Read's and his own final difficulties came when a chain reaction at the starting line sent several boats over early while the round-the-ends rule was in effect in extremely light air.

"It was me," Scott said. "I pushed Brad over early, but in the process I was over early, too, which is why I did so badly in that last race.A girl on a boat below me pushed me over, and that made me have to push Brad over, too. It was the second start of the race, and the I flag was up in really, really light air, so we had to get around the ends before four minutes were up after the start. Brad made it around, and I made it, but there were a couple of boats that were also over early and couldn't get back around in time to start the race."

Brady explained that the regatta format placed an unusually heavy emphasis on starting, since the courses were extremely short.

"The races only lasted about an hour on Olympic courses with about a three-quarter-mile weather leg," he said. "Well, maybe in the really light air arace took an hour and a half, but we never even got close to the two-hour time limit. It only took about four minutes after the start to be at the layline for the first mark."

Brady said his first-race finish in eighth place also was the result of a starting line problem.

"We saw the individual recall flag go up, and we decided we were over early in the first race, and that Brad (Read) was, too. We didn't want to begin the regatta with a DSQ in the first race, so we went back, and Brad kept sailing, but it turned out neither of us had beencalled over early. We grovelled our way back up into eighth."

Scott sailed the regatta with new crew from other parts of the country, including Tim McKegney from Vermont, and Nat Eyinger and Renee Mehl from Minnesota, when his regular crew of Annapolis-area sailors couldn't get the time off from work to accompany him to St. Petersburg.

"I had never sailed with them before, but they were really good crew," Scott said. "It certainly wasn't the crew's problem how we did, that's for sure."

The dedication of Scott's crew was evident even before the regatta's first race began. The night before racing started, the crew weighed in at about 12 pounds over the maximum allowable total of 605 pounds. That evening, they ate no solid food, and the next morning all four of them suited up in full foul-weather gear and ran all the way to the weigh-in station for re-weighing.

"We turned out to be four pounds under the limit in the morning," Scott laughed. "Renee only weighs 105 anyway, and she was down to 102, but I guess welost an average of four pounds each."

Scott observed that in contrast to last year's Midwinters, where three-person crews outnumbered four-man teams, 3-2, this year the proportion was about 60-40 in the other direction, with four-man teams more common. Scott said he thought a trend was developing for teams to aim to stay at or just below the maximum crew weight allowed to avoid being overpowered on the small boats in heavier air.

"I've never been to a regatta with so manysailmakers," Scott said. "It was amazing. It was fun, though. The people there, and the class generally, were really good."

J/22 Midwinter championship results

1) Jim Brady, Annapolis, 15.5 pts. ((8)-1-2-1-8-4); 2) Brad Read, Newport, R.I., 15.5 pts. (1-3-7-4-1-(12)); 3) Terry Flynn, LaPorte, Texas, 16.75 pts. (2-7-1-5-2-(10)); 4) SteveUlian, Marblehead, Mass., 21.75 pts. (7-2-(10)-7-5-1); 5) Lars Hansen, Minneapolis, Minn., 36 pts. (6-5-(20)-8-6-11); 6) Jay Lutz, Houston, Texas, 36 pts. (9-6-5-(20)-8-6-11); 7) Palmer Henson, Atlanta, Ga., 37 pts. (4-9-3-10-11-(14)); 8) Chris Larson, Clearwater, Fla., 38 pts. (13-13-6-3-(21)-3); 9) Dave Scott, Annapolis, 39 pts. (10-4- 8-14-3-(26)); 10) Teddy Turner, Charleston, S.C., 53 pts. (3-12- (21)-13-10-15); ... 15) Jim Hayes, Annapolis, 68 pts. (15-(17)-12- 12-16-13).

() denotes throwout race in final scoring.

*Nancy Noyes is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association and has been racing on the bay for about five years. Her Sailing column appears everyWednesday and Sunday in The Anne Arundel County Sun.

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