"Maybe Scotty and I are on a bit of a downslide, so we'll pick Scotty," Brady said, exercising his privilege for the best-of-three semifinals after finishing atop the double round robin with 15 wins and 3 losses."
Dickson's response? "My response will be [Saturday]," Dickson said.
Brady, the winner in 1996, '97 and 2006, will be trying to join Rod Davis and Peter Holmberg as the only four-time winners. The other semi-final sends Sweden's Johnie Berntsson, who blew through a 4-0 day to replace Dickson in second place at 13-5, against France's Philippe Presti (10-8), who won three of his last four races to edge out New Zealand's Simon Minoprio on a tiebreaker for the last slot. The six non-qualifiers will sail in a fleet race on Saturday.
Southwest winds fluctuated from 10 knots to 5 and back up top 14 through the afternoon, testing the sailors' range of performance. There was no stopping Berntsson, who has won 9 of his last 10 races. "Now we're finding how to handle it," he said.
If Brady's 3-1 day was a "downslide," it didn't lack spirit. Dickson, the local Long Beach YC entry who finished 12-6 for third place, also seemed to lust for a replay of his 16 second win in the final flight. That meaningless match featured flaring tempers at the first windward mark rounding after Brady poked his bow inside Dickson's boat and touched the inflatable mark buoy - a standard infraction.
It didn't sit well with Brady that Dickson's tactician, Mark Ivey, alerted the on-water umpires to the error, and he let his opponents know it - although the umpires had seen it themselves and assigned Brady a penalty. Brady led the rest of the way but was unable to break away to a lead big enough to win after doing a penalty turn.
"I get frustrated," Brady said later. "We didn't know the umpires had already made a decision. They didn't tell us until we were around the mark."
Dickson declined to discuss the incident other than to say, "He got inside and hit the mark."
Stay tuned Saturday. The two, both native New Zealanders living in the U.S. - Brady in Annapolis and Dickson in Long Beach - are longtime friends, which was evident as they sat next to each other at the press conference Friday night. But they love to compete. When he is in the position of picking his opponent, Brady said, "I try to take the emotion out of it and evaluate a person's performance."
In this case, Dickson was 2-2 Friday while Berntsson was 4-0 and Presti 3-1, and Brady's only losses this week were against Presti, Dickson and France's Damien Iehl. Brady and Dickson split their two races.
Minoprio, a semi-finallist last year, took the toughest hit in losing his last two races and then watching Presti beat Russia's Andrew Arbuzov to win the fourth ticket to the semis. Arbuzov led Presti to the finish line but not by enough distance to erase a penalty he was carrying.
This is Dickson's 12th Congressional Cup but his first semi-final. He finished second in 1996 "before they had semifinals," he said. He has beaten each of the other semifinalists - 4-2 overall, having swept Presti. "We're pleased to be in the top four and pleased to do it in style," he said. "We think we deserve to be here."
Chris VanTol, U.S., def. Scott Dickson, U.S., 8 seconds.
Johnie Berntsson, Sweden, def. Dave Perry, U.S., 25 seconds.
Simon Minoprio, New Zealand, def. Andrew Arbuzov, Russia, 12 seconds.
Philippe Presti, France, def. Damien Iehl, France, 29 seconds.
Gavin Brady, New Zealand, def. Pierre-Antoine Morvan, France, 35 seconds.
Arbuzov d. Iehl, 0:07.
Dickson d. Morvan, 0:20.
Brady d. Perry, 0:20.
Minoprio d. VanTol, 0:47.
Berntsson d. Presti, 0:11.
Perry d. Dickson, 0:06.
Brady d. Minoprio, 0:17.
Presti d. VanTol, 1:35.
Arbuzov d. Morvan, 1:04.
Berntsson d. Iehl, 0:39.
Dickson d. Brady, 0:16.
Perry d. VanTol, 0:20.
Berntsson d. Minoprio, 0:25.
Presti d. Arbuzov, 0:45.
Iehl d. Morvan, 1:30.
FINAL ROUND ROBIN STANDINGS
1. Brady, 15-3 (14.5 points*)
2. Berntsson, 13-5.
3. Dickson, 12-6.
4. Presti, 10-8 (wins tiebreaker).
5. Minoprio, 10-8.
6. Iehl, 8-10.
7. Perry, 8-10.
8. Arbuzov, 6-12.
9. Morvan, 6-12.
10. VanTol, 2-16 (.75 points*)
*---Deduction for causing excess damage.
Event sponsors are the Port of Long Beach, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Catalina Adventure Tours, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, West Marine, Long Beach Memorial Hospital, Union Bank of California, Newmeyer & Dillion attorneys at Law, Mount Gay Rum and Gladstone’s Restaurant of Long Beach.