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Published: Thursday, 8/28/2003

Wagners sail Cal Girl to stunning Trans-Erie Race win

BY SHIRLEY LEVY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

If you aren't in the fastest boat in the race, you have to sail the smartest.

That's the story in a nutshell behind Ted and Denise Wagner's incredible win in Grosse Ile Yacht Club's Trans-Erie Race Monday.

Cal Girl, a 30-year-old Cal 30, racing in a class comprising the smallest and slowest competitors in the 44-boat fleet, not only nailed down Class F, but also took the overall honors in the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet.

Boats in three divisions and six classes started the 140-mile trek Friday, from Grosse Ile to Presque Ile Bay, in Erie, Pa.

``The whole story was to stay north of the rhumb line,'' Ted Wagner said. ``Our boat is rated so slow, we can never see anyone ahead of us. But at dawn, we saw lots of boats ahead of us to the south.

``We got out the binoculars and saw they were all fast boats that owed us a lot of time (on handicap) like Gus, Racer X and Hellion.

``The predictions were for the wind to go north, so we aggressively worked to stay north. By 11 a.m. we had those guys abeam of us, so we stayed out in the lake , while the other boats were sailing on shore.''

It wasn't all smooth sailng for Cal Girl, which sat for 45 minutes to an hour at Point Pelee

``That's where a lot of boats decided to take what they got, so they went south,'' Wagner said. ``But we kept going north, even though we weren't moving as fast. As we got close to Erie, we realized they were losing air.''

Cal Girl finished the race at 9:14 p.m. Sunday with elapsed time of 28:06.39, and corrected time of 21:13.39.

``It was an easy race,'' Wagner said. ``We had a really good, competent crew.''

``Denise and I have always done the Trans-Erie doublehanded, so it wasn't the endurance test it usually is.''

Cal Girl almost didn't make it to the start of the race because the boat's keel was damaged when Wagner pulled into a low-water dock at Put-in-Bay earlier in the season.

Not wanting to miss out on the Trans-Erie, he took the boat home, built a small house around it and put on a new bottom. He also painted the hull, ordered new sails and picked up an experienced crew at Ford Yacht Club, where the Wagners are members.

``I want to do the Mackinac on my boat before I'm 50,'' Ted said..``I'm 48 now, so I wanted to see how it goes. I already know how it is on a 40-mile race like the Mills, but I wanted to try one that was three times as long.''

``We served hot meals and learned the boat is competitve with that many people and that much gear on board. We'll probably never race it doublehanded again,'' he said.

LOGBOOK:

Toledo Rowing Club's senior members are on a roll.

J. Anderton "Pete" Bentley brought home a gold medal for the men's singles class from the Midwest Masters Regional Championship Regatta, held on Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis Aug. 16-17.

The TRC women's masters team took a silver in the eight-plus (coxswain) class, missing first by six seconds.

At the Ann Arbor Tri-Meet, held on the Huron River Saturday, TRC won gold medals in both the women's recreational eight-plus and the women's open four-plus classes.

TRC's Christopher Czech clinched the gold in the men's open singles.

``Competitive rowing for me is more fun, more focused and more disciplined,'' starboard rower Sue Zurawski said. ``It gives me confidence and helps relieve stress. Besides, it keep me looking and feeling an easy 10-15 years younger.''

Members of the group range in age from the 30s to over 60. Some rowed in college and others, like Zurawski, learned to row after age 40.

Participants turn out for training sessions four days a week at 5 a.m. when the Maumee River is smooth.

Members of the women's masters' team include Valarie Johnson, Marnie Stahl, Judy Buck, Kelly Goodrich, Sue Weaver, Sandy Earl, Mary Lynn Reynolds, Grace Brown, Denise Kimerer, Sheila Ng, Jackie Stahl, Stepper LeBoutillier, Claire Frushour and Stephanie Brubaker, among others.

Winners of the 2003 Inter-Lake Yachting Association Junior Travellers Series were awarded trophies at the season's final regatta, held at Mentor Harbor Yacht Club last weekend.

The seven-race series drew 88 juniors (ages 9-18) from 13 clubs in an area from downriver Detroit to Erie. Typically 5-7 races are run at each event.

Ryan Kyle of Port Clinton Yacht Club won the Optimist class and Bryan Bradley of Jolly Roger Sailing Club took the Laser class trophy.

North Cape Yacht Club's Nick Thurber and Mike Stark beat Thomas McRitchie of Port Clinton and Ben Goldberg of North Cape for the CGJ class honors.

Eric Bradley, Steve Frazier and Ryan Lashaway, from Jolly Roger, were the top Thistle team.

Bradley and Frazier, who have sailed together for the past five seasons, are "aging out" this year. Eric enlisted in the navy and shipped out last week. Steve will be attending the University of Rhode Island this fall, where he will be a member of the school's sailing team.



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