They came, they saw, they didn’t quite conquer

Amy Linton

Davis Island yacht club’s Coppa dei Campioni team, headed by Jeff Linton, and crewed by Mike Gable and Mark Taylor, put up a valiant challenge for the “Cup of Champions” in Sardinia, Italy in July. Alas, they did not sail to the very top of the fleet, but the three skippers above them were world champions.

In point of fact, all ten skippers at the event were world champions. This regatta is a prestigious event where a select group of sailors -- each skipper having won a world championship in the previous year -- is invited to a match race that will determine who is the champion among champions.

The sailors competed aboard the yacht club’s fleet of German Frers-designed Smeralda 888, which the club keeps for events like the Coppa dei Campioni. The boats are nearly 30 feet long, looking something like an overpowered Etchell with an extra-tall rig and a modern bulb keel.

The competitors included: Alessandra Sensini, Italy, 7 time Mistral World Champ Lorenzo Bressani, Italy, ILC-25 and IMS World Champ Vasco Vascotto, Italy, ILC-30, Sydney 40, and J-24 World Champ (9 titles altogether) Pierre-Andre Bonjour, Switzerland, 8-meter World Champ Tom King, Australia, 2-time 470 World Champ Santiago Lopez, Spain, 49er World Champ Christoph Skolaut, Austria, Yngling World Champ Gustavo Warburg, Argentina, Soling World Champ Sofia Bekatorou, Greece, 2-time 470 Worlds Jeff Linton, USA, Lightning World Champ

After two hours to try out the boats before racing, the ten teams were split into two groups, and within the groups the skippers competed once against each other. The top four then went on to the next round. Jeff and team made it into the semi-finals, but could not hold boatspeed against the other competitors when the Mistral breeze blew in. As the wind picked up over 15, over 20, over 25, the Davis Island team simply didn’t have the speed upwind.

Local sailor Vasco Vascotto won the event, with Bressani of Italy second, and Santiago Lopez third. The DIYC team was just one race out of the final round, and the other sailors could be heard worrying in various languages about the Americans. By way of consolation as well, Linton was the top finishing centerboard skipper -- Lopez, Bressani, and Vascotto were all keelboat champions.

The team would like to thank a legion of supporters from the Davis Island Yacht Club and the area. The following is a partial list of helpers, sponsors, supporters, training partners, and good friends who helped get this team to Italy and back again:

Commodore Frank Selph, Pat O'Neal, Robert Hill, Sarah Smith, Henry Moore, Jay Tyson, Max Dufany, Allen Cappellin, Tracey Milvain, Brian Richardson David Toland & Angela Max, Richard Borde, Ed Collins, Dave Clement, King Purton, Mike Horan, Jeff Siewert, Dave Bell, Barb Wolf, Cheryl & John Hodges, Beth Farrel, Howie & Vi Smith, Robin Clement & Jeep, Heinrich and Joann Rodewald, Zef & Oona Fessenden, John & Kyle Linton, Dar & Robert Hill, Pat Linton, Judy Sutfin, Jamey Rabbitt, Maggie Liss, Jack & Bonnie Sevier, Don & Tanya Highnote, Lou Putney, Brooke Milvain & Brian Malone, Amanda Hus & Pat Crump, Steve & Paula Leonardo, Tim Rumen, Kate Ross, Reggie Atkins, Nate Villardebo, Bill Iceley, Jeff Siewert, Bill and Nancy Curtis, Dave Bell & Susan Cintron, Bill and Nancy Curtis as well as Dr. John Jennings, Morton Christianssen, Ed Baird, Mike Milvain, Rod Koch, Stuart DeLisser, Bill Mauk, Evan Brown/Sears Cup Team: Josh Willis, Alyson Dagly Kristen Britt, Jean & Randy Marks, Pat Feinberg, Cameron Carlin, Matt Mulock, John Humphries


Photos by Tony Miro© -

Davis Island Yacht Club
27°54.47 N — 82°27.09 W
1315 Severn Ave. Tampa, FL 33606
813.251.1158 | Fax: 813.251.2649