Strictly Sail St. Pete draws 9,000

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Strictly Sail St. Petersburg's new location at Spa Beach at the base of St. Petersburg Pier and a fun-filled show of special regattas and events drew close to 9,000 sailors to the Florida Gulf Coast's largest all-sail boat show, organizers said in a recent release.

Attendance was down slightly from last year's show, but show organizers consider the show a success that drew a high quality crowd of boat buyers.

Extensive damage at Vinoy Marina from Hurricane Dennis forced Strictly Sail St. Petersburg to move to Spa Beach at the base of St. Petersburg Pier this year, and Hurricane Wilma led the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to re-schedule its show at the same time as Strictly Sail St. Petersburg.

“In light of these circumstances, we think we did very well in attracting sailors from throughout the Gulf Coast that generated solid sales for our exhibitors,” said Kevin Murphy, national show manager for Sail America, one of the show's producers. “We found our sailors and families especially enjoyed the new downtown St. Petersburg waterfront location, which offered a gorgeous venue for displaying sailboats and a great mix of nearby restaurants and shops that we thought helped show-goers stay at our venue for longer periods of time.”

Murphy noted that Strictly Sail St. Petersburg will be at the same Spa Beach location for the 2006 show on Nov. 2-5, since the Vinoy Marina will likely still be under construction.

The show's featured attraction, the “Sailing for Miracles,” a series of special events produced by the Southeastern Sailing Industries Association helped raise about $30,000 overall in proceeds that will be donated to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Sailing legends Allison Jolly, Ted Irwin, Charley Morgan, Frank Butler, Mark Ploch, Ted Hood, Steve Pettengill, Olaf Harken and Jen French competed in the Masters Under Sail regatta, where they raced Sonars loaned by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club with crew members who each donated $100 to All Children's Hospital to sail alongside their favorite sailing master. (John Jennings, a racing sailor from the St. Petersburg Sailing Center, substituted for Halsey Herreshoff in the regatta).

An auction of sailing items raised over $10,000 for All Children's Hospital. Sailing companies donating to the auction were: Hunter Marine, Sunsail,Tohatsu, Model Sailing Center, Garhauer Marine, Forespar, Latitudes & Attitudes, Boating at the Pier, The Electric Marina and Anchor Shades.

Strictly Sail St. Petersburg was co-produced by Sail America, a non-profit association that represents the sailing industry and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

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