Bruni surges forth
Anyone who felt sorry for young Taylor Canfield after his win-less opening day in the 47th Congressional Cup should get their sympathy refunded.
The 23-year-old match racing waif from the US Virgin Islands followed his 0-7 West Coast debut with a 4-1 record Wednesday that was better than anyone else could manage, except overall leader and defending champion Francesco Bruni of Italy, who stands alone at 10-1 as the competition advances into the second round robin leading to the weekend's sailoffs.
"I think our whole team was more comfortable in the boat," said Canfield, who is not only new to the boats but the territory.
"It's our first time on the [Catalina 37s] and our first time out here."
Canfield opened with a stunning one-second photo finish against the veteran Dave Perry and followed with wins over Ficker Cup winner Simone Ferrarese of Italy, his only loss against Finland's Staffan Lindberg and then wins against - whoa! - Great Britain's Ian Williams and Sweden's Johnie Berntsson.
Okay, he beat Williams while he was carrying a foul for letting his spinnaker halyard catch the starting flag on the race committee boat. But as the race proceeded, Williams missed one of the many mark change signals on a shifty afternoon and sailed to the wrong windward mark.
Williams said, "We had to do two gybes coming into the [leeward] mark and everybody was busy."
Then Canfield beat Berntsson when he responded to go with a 50-degree wind shift before his opponent did.
Certainly, Canfield's day was brighter than the weather that deteriorated from bright sun and light, shifty wind to overcast, a light drizzle and even lighter wind, none of which diminished the show.
Bruni (10-1) broke away from a three-way tie at the top as Williams and France's Mathieu Richard - each 3-2 for the day - remained on his heels at 9-2.
In fact, they are the only three with winning records, raising speculation on who will sail the fourth boat into the semifinals. At the moment it's wide open.
The most spectacular finish was Staffan Lindberg's victory over Neugodnikov. They were side by side as the Finn, on the inside, carried the Russian past the outside end of the line to gain leverage for a quick left turn back up to the line that his foe could only follow.
What Lindberg didn't realize was that as he wheeled the boat around to go back up to finish, his tactician, Nils Bjerkas, had slipped overboard as he went forward to help douse the spinnaker. He managed to hang on and re-board before the finish.
"It came as a surprise to me to learn later that we had a guy in the water," said Lindberg, who is in a four-way tie for fifth place at 4-7, a step behind Dave Perry at 5-6.
Lindberg's other good news was that he was tagged for only one of the 19 penalties.
"What did we have [Tuesday]?" he said. "Ten? Eleven? I hope we can keep this momentum going."
Racing continues Thursday off 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 11 of 18 flights
1. Francesco Bruni, Italy, 10-1.
2. Tie between Ian Williams, Great Britain, and Mathieu Richard, France, 9-2.
4. Dave Perry, USA, 5-6.
5. Tie among Johnie Berntsson, Sweden; Staffan Lindberg, Finland; Simone Ferrarese, Italy, and Taylor Canfield, U.S. Virgin Islands, 4-7.
9. Tie between Evgeny Neugodnikov, Russia, and Phil Robertson, New Zealand, 3-8.
Bruni def. Richard, 12 seconds.
Ferrarese d. Williams, one second.
Canfield d. Perry, one second.
Lindberg d. Berntsson, 58 seconds.
Robertson d. Neugodnikov, 18 seconds.
Canfield d. Ferrarese, 0:22.
Perry d. Berntsson, 0:26.
Lindberg d. Neugodnikov, 0:13.
Williams d. Bruni, 0:01.
Richard d. Robertson, 0:21.
Ferrarese d. Perry, DSQ.
Lindberg d. Canfield, 0:05.
Berntsson d. Robertson, 0:07.
Bruni d. Neugodnikov, 1:26.
Williams d. Richard, 0:08.
Perry d. Neugodnikov, 0:05.
Canfield d. Williams, DNF.
Bruni d. Robertson, 0:21.
Richard d. Lindberg, 0:31.
Ferrarese d. Berntsson, DNF.
Robertson d. Williams, 0:18
Bruni d. Lindberg, 0:32.
Richard d. Perry, 0:12.
Neugodnikov d. Ferrarese, 0:43.
Canfield d. Berntsson, 0:23.
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