Miller, Sea Turtle Nearly Flawless In Perfect Conditions — Sun Sentinel

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Beneteau 38


, Sea Turtle Nearly Flawless In Perfect Conditions

January 17, 2004 | By Steve Waters Staff Writer

At long last, the sailing conditions were ideal for Jim Miller and his boat Sea Turtle in the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. And Miller and his crew took advantage by sailing an almost flawless race to win the 29th edition of the 160-mile regatta.

It’s great to finally have won it, Miller said. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve done [the race] so many years.

The race started at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday, with westerly winds of 5-10 knots. Titan, a new 75-foot Reichel/Pugh, was first to cross the finish line, arriving in Key West at 4:28 a.m. Thursday. Zephyr was the first of 14 multihulls to finish, crossing at 5:41 a.m.

All but one of the 42 boats that started the race finished. Race spokesman Bob Meagher III said Alacrity, a 50-foot custom multihull, broke the tip of its mast and dropped out.

Sea Turtle finished at 1:47 p.m. Thursday. Its corrected time of 12 hours, 45 minutes, 20 seconds was 19 minutes better than Dan Myers and E-Ticket, who won PHRF Class 4 and finished second overall.

Holy Toledo. a Hobie 33 that was the top PHRF boat last year, won PHRF Class 3 but was 33 minutes behind Sea Turtle, good for third in the overall standings. Last year, Sea Turtle won its class and finished second overall to Holy Toledo!

The conditions were perfect for us this year, Miller said. We had our conditions last year, too, but it was too much wind. In the heavier stuff [winds of 15-20 knots] last year, the Hobie 33 was the boat to have. This year there wasn’t enough wind for them to surf. We never had more than probably 12-14 knots.

You can sail a perfect race, but unless you get your conditions, you won’t win.

A member of Melbourne Yacht Club, Miller started doing the race to Key West in the mid-1970s. Back then, he lived in North Miami and was an active member of Gulfstream Sailing Club, running its junior program.

Miller left South Florida in the late 1980s, but he kept active in the sport — he is currently the PHRF chairman for East Central Florida — and he kept doing the race. He credited a veteran crew for this year’s success.

I have a really crack crew that’s been doing [the race] continuously for the last three years, Miller said. They all own their own boats and they’re a pretty intense crew.

Not too far into the race, we said if we were going to win, we needed to put a chute up. We were the first to fly a spinnaker. We used it until 7 [p.m.], then the wind was on our nose so we dropped it and put up a headsail. About 4:30 or 5 [a.m. Thursday], we started getting the chute up again.

Miller kept the spinnaker up until Sea Turtle broached badly at the Key West sea buoy and the sail ripped. That was OK, because Miller had planned on lowering the spinnaker in a few minutes for the final four-mile leg into Key West.

We didn’t have any other issues, Miller said. I have a good navigator who kept us in close enough to the reefs to stay out of the current. We sailed pretty much out of the current the whole race until the sea buoy.

Beneteau 38


PHRF 1 (boat name, boat make, skipper, corrected time): 1. Rosebud, TransPac 52, Roger Sturgeon, 14 hours, 40 minutes, 29 seconds 2. Sjambok, 1D48, Michael Brennan, 14:59:12 3. Renegade, Santa Cruz, Steve Gagne/Ken Mead, 15:06:07.

PHRF 2: 1. So Far, Nautor 48, Lawrence Hillman, 14:09:57 2. Quick Whit, Beneteau 42, J. George Whitfield, 14:17:34 3. Le Cygne, Beneteau, Jahn Tihansky, 14:27:19.

PHRF 3: 1. Holy Toledo. Hobie 33, Clif Vaughan, 13:18:14 2. Mirage, Hobie 33, Christian Schaumlofel, 13:52:06 3. Windshadow, J/105, Jim Murphy, 13:56:05.

PHRF 4: 1. E-Ticket, Beneteau, Dan Myers, 13:04:22 2. Willowind, Custom 39, Ira Zaslow, 13:23:53 3. Contrails, Beneteau, Jim Wallace, 13:41:53.

PHRF 5: 1. Sea Turtle, Beneteau 38, Jim Miller, 12:45:20 2. Sunquest, Beneteau 411, Wilfredo Paredes, 13:41:09 3. Tortoise, Sabre 28, Jim Bissell, 13:53:20.

Multihull A: 1. Gray Mare, Corsair 31, Michael Dressell, 12:33:13 2. Lei Loe, Corsair 31, H.L. Enloe, 12:41:11 3. Green Flash, Osborn 42, Dave Calvert, 13:09:56.

Multihull B: 1. Catnip, SeaWind 36, Victor Mendelson, 12:10:09 2. Double Trouble, Catana 58, Don Balthaser, 12:35:40 3. Medicine Man, Corsair 28, Bob Lane, 12:46:05.

Steve Waters can be reached at or at 954-356-4648.

Beneteau 38
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Beneteau 38
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