As Ian Williams steered his Catalina 37 past the transom of Long Beach Yacht Club's new race committee boat during a pre-start sequence on the opening day of the 47th Congressional Cup, he noticed the principal race officer tending the barbecue.
"How about a couple of burgers?" Williams asked Randy Smith.
He didn't get any snacks, but he did fill his racing plate with a half-dozen wins to share first place with two other former winners, Francesco Bruni and Mathieu Richard, all of scored 6-0 records in sidestepping harm from the flurry of 23 penalties inflicted by the on-water umpires.
Based on the average, the number suggests that twice as many 'Y' flag protests were not allowed, but those allowed included one black flag, the ultimate blow calling for immediate disqualification, usually for failing to execute a penalty turn promptly enough to satisfy the umps.
That one caught Dave Perry, the US entry, near the end of his match against Williams at day's end. Perry is generally regarded as the foremost racing rules authority in the country, as well as a veteran match racing veteran and winner of back-to-back Congressional Cups in 1983 and '84, a resume noted by another former winner, Sweden's Johnie Berntsson, one of his rivals here.
"I should take him to a rules seminar," Berntsson said, smiling.
On his part, Berntsson (3-3) was tied for fourth place with, uh, Perry. They are scheduled to meet today when the fleet completes the first of two round-robins leading to the weekend's sailoffs.
The racing conditions were ideal, starting before noon at 5 knots from the south but quickly shifting to 12 and ultimately a chilling 15 from the southwest source of Long Beach's notorious sea breeze funneling down the San Pedro Channel between Santa Catalina Island and the mainland.
Richard said, "We had to fight hard for some of [the wins], but it was a very good day."
Bruni: "My crew did a very good job, especially when my starts weren't so good."
Ironically, Williams spent his practice time Monday against Perry, noting: "He's a good guy to practice against because he puts you in a lot of unusual situations."
Racing continues Tuesday sometime after 11:30 a.m. The race course is off the end of Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in east Long Beach, well inside the breakwater of the outer Long Beach Harbor. There is public parking at the base of the pier and free shuttles out to the end, where there is expert commentary, limited seating, a snack bar, restaurant and comfort stations.
The total purse is $40,000, with $10,000 for the winner.
Standings - after 6 of 18 flights
1. Tie among Francesco Bruni, Italy; Ian Williams, Great Britain, and Mathieu Richard, France, 6-0.
4. Tie between Johnie Berntsson, Sweden, and Dave Perry, USA, 3-3.
6. Tie between Evgeny Neugodnikov, Russia, and Simone Ferrarese, Italy, 2-4.
8. Tie between Staffan Lindberg, Finland, and Phil Robertson, New Zealand, 1-5.
10. Taylor Canfield, U.S. Virgin Islands, 0-6.
Ullman Sails is the sail sponsor. Friedman's Appliances is the pier sponsor. Time Warner Cable is the media sponsor. Hotel Maya is the official host hotel. Other sponsors are Yamaha, Farmers & Merchants Bank, City National Bank, Union Bank, Newmeyer & Dillon, Press Telegram, Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, Port of Long Beach, Gladstones, MCA, Creative Productions and Catalina Yachts. Visit all sponsors