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CHAMPIONSHIPS:Regatta s final not without controversy

LIDO 14 CLASS

SAILING: Robertson, a three-time defending champion, disqualified for illegal transom; Gaudio wins 50th annual event.

August 23, 2007|By Soraya Nadia McDonald

NEWPORT BEACH — Unlike NASCAR, there’s no “Table of Shame” for rogue parts in sailing.

Small wonder.

Most offending parts, such as the transom of Stu Robertson’s Lido 14, wouldn’t fit on a table anyhow.

Still, the news of Robertson’s disqualification in the National Lido 14 Class Championships buzzed through the corridors of Newport Harbor Yacht Club Wednesday afternoon.

Robertson, the three-time defending champion, was disqualified from all four of Wednesday’s races for sailing with an illegal transom. Robertson reduced the size of the transom without making up for the lost weight, according to regatta officials.

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All Lido 14s are supposed to weigh 310 pounds and comply with association specifications to ensure fair competition.

Skipper Mark Gaudio, a Newport Beach resident, won the Class Championships, on the 50th anniversary of the event, leading the gold flight with four first place finishes, two second place finishes and one fifth place result.

Robertson, of Huntington Beach, would have finished second without the disqualification. Instead, second place honors went to Bob Little of Marina del Rey, and Kurt Weise of Laguna Beach finished third.

“My goal in the regatta was to be top five in every race,” said Gaudio, who manages the Vanguard Sailing Center in Costa Mesa. Gaudio was a champion for three straight years before Robertson’s reign, and he declined to comment about Robertson’s blunder.

“It feels good. We beat him on the water fair and square,” Gaudio said. “The competition was fierce. The competition was much closer than the numbers of the results might dictate.” Gaudio recently skippered the winning boat in the Cal 20 Class Championship regatta last weekend in Long Beach.

Messages left by the Daily Pilot for Robertson remained unreturned at press time.

Renee DeCurtis of Long Beach finished first in the silver fleet, followed by Jim Sterner of Bainbridge Island, Wash. Ninety-year old Roy Woolsey, the oldest sailor, finished seventh in the silver fleet and won the seventh race of the series.

Gaudio elected to sail with Dave Swain, a former Lido 14 champion who hadn’t raced Lidos in 10 years, Gaudio said.

“The guy is solid, and he helped keep my head in the game,” Gaudio said. “When you surround yourself with other good sailors, they up your game as well.”

Gaudio, who has been sailing Lidos for 35 years, had three of his first-place finishes on the second day of racing, and the last race of the day, his throw-out, was his worst finish. Gaudio estimated he had about 80 sailing students last month from seven different yacht clubs.

“My goal, globally is to keep everybody hooked on the sport of sailing, and not just yacht racing because it’s a life sport,” Swain said. “It’s something you can do ‘til you meet your maker. You’re continually learning. It’s like chasing a moving target continually. The wind shifts, the competitors shift. The goal is not just to keep up but to stay ahead.”

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