New Zealand's Simon Minoprio gets the jump on Russia's Andrew Arbuzov

New Zealand's Simon Minoprio gets the jump on Russia's Andrew Arbuzov

Convincing start for Minoprio

New Zealander leads the Congressional Cup match racing in Long Beach

Tuesday May 15th 2007, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United Kingdom
Kiwis ruled the world of match race sailing when Simon Minoprio followed Emirates Team New Zealand's Louis Vuitton semifinals victory over Spain at Valencia Tuesday morning by running the table 5-0 on the first day of the Long Beach Yacht Club's 43rd Congressional Cup, presented by Acura.

Minoprio's perfect day was diluted slightly when rival Scott Dickson red-flagged him during their late match for not having his foreguy block that controls the spinnaker attached to the spinnaker pole, a violation of the Sailing Instructions. But the race jury ruled that it had no effect on the outcome of the race, which Minoprio won by 16 seconds, so Minoprio had only a quarter-point deducted from his score, leaving him at 4.75-0, followed by top-seeded Mathieu Richard of France and Johnie Berntsson of Sweden at 4-1, with 13 rounds remaining in the double round-robin through Friday before Saturday's championship sailoffs.

"We made too many mistakes in the pre-starts," Minoprio said, "but on the race course it was good to stand in the back of the boat and watch the guys sail a perfect day."

Tongue-in-check, he explained his infraction of the S.I.s as a misunderstanding of the language that "was not really in Kiwi."

He will be tested on Wednesday in his first matches against Richard and Berntsson to wrap up the first round.

Richard, the No. 2-ranked match racer in the world, opened with an upset loss to Russia's Andrew Arbuzov when he drew a red flag penalty at the start, had to do his turn immediately and never recovered. But then he found his stride with four consecutive wins.

"It was a good first day," Richard said. "We hadn't sailed in two months and we knew the first day we would have to feel out the boat."

Winds were 7 knots from the south that shifted southwest in mid-afternoon and built to 12. All teams sailed Catalina 37s on a short twice-around, windward-leeward course set off Belmont Pier on a smooth surface inside the outer harbor breakwater.

Dickson and Brian Angel of nearby Redondo Beach each started with two wins before dropping their last three races. Angel said, "I think I ran out of gas. Maybe tomorrow I won't get up so early to watch the America's Cup racing on TV."

Competitors waved 54 protest flags in the 25 races; 42 were green-flagged (no penalty) by Jan Stage's platoon of on-water umpires.

The total purse will be $41,000, including $10,000 to the winner.

Spectators have free seating for the racing on Belmont Pier, site of the start and finish lines. Food and beverages are available in a new patio setting. Veteran local sailor Steve Steiner, a former Con Cup competitor, offers expert commentary.

Video highlights produced by are available nightly on the event website

The event is managed by about 300 LBYC volunteers, including hostess teams for each crew. The competitors, six to a crew, rotate 10 Catalina 37s. Each team will race every other team twice. The six that fail to reach Saturday's semifinals will sail a 10-mile fleet race on the final championship day.

Results and standings (after 5 of 18 rounds):
Minoprio, 4.75-0
Berntsson and Richard, 4-1
Iehl, 3—2
Neugodnikov, Arbuzov, Dickson and Angel, 2-3
Tarnacki, 1-4
Angsell, 0-5.

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