Photos: Rich Roberts

Brady drops just one race

10 flights held so far at the Congressional Cup

Wednesday March 28th 2012, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States

Can world-class match racers be friends?

Fair question after watching Thursday's roughhouse competition on day 2 of the Long Beach Yacht Club's 48th Congressional Cup. The 10 competitors waved an estimated 39 protest flags in 30 races and the on-water umpires imposed 17 penalties. Matches turned on a few of the calls.

"I am aggressive," said Simone Ferrarese (5-5), who won two protests against four-time winner Gavin Brady (9-1) in dealing him his first loss in the last race of the day. "We started that much with the idea of being more aggressive because Gavin is so fast."

Steve Steiner, the public address announcer for spectators on Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, dubbed Ferrarese "the Wild Man," and Brady said on the dock afterward, with smiling exuberance, "My [gosh] they were aggressive. I never saw one of these boats come at me so fast."

At one point crew from one rival was overheard hailing the Italians, "Will you just stop yelling?"

But why stop, one might ask … if it works?

In a brisk chilly southwest breeze of 17 knots in late afternoon, Ferrarese nailed Brady, who had been untouchable to all other opponents, to win the last race of the day by 22 seconds.

All of that intensity was brought to the post-race skippers press conference, where the comments were generally humorous but edgy.

Switzerland's Eric Monnin, who thought he had nipped Lindberg in a spinnaker finish, described it as his "one very close race" … then added, solemnly, "I can't remember the race committee boat being so late in showing the [colored] flag of the winner. We thought we were first to the committee boat."

Principal race officer Pete Ives said, "We'd like to thank the skippers for the action at the leeward mark [just upwind from the race committee boat]. It kept us awake all day."

They were wide awake for the start of the late match between two former winners, Ian Williams of the UK (2011) and Sweden's Johnie Berntsson (2009).

Berntsson, on port tack, collided with the Brit's boat in a tight squeeze against the committee boat a few seconds before the start. Berntsson drew a penalty, but Williams was left dead in the water as his opponent sailed away with an apparently unbeatable lead in the two-lap race.

"It was quite an exiting day," Williams said. "We had a real battle, Johnie and I, and he picked up a penalty there. We thought he should have had a black flag [disqualifying] penalty."

But in the end it didn't matter. Once Williams got his Catalina 37 back in gear and steadily picked away at the Swede's lead until passing him at the final mark and winning by 24 seconds.

Most of the sailors seemed exhausted. Skipper Taylor Canfield (5-5), asked which was his toughest match, paused to think, then said, "I can't even remember. Everyone still has a shot at the semifinals."

Indeed they do. Brady increased his overall lead to three wins, followed by Williams and Lindberg at 6-4 and Canfield, Monnin and Ferrarese at 5-5. Even New Zealand's Laurie Jury and homeboy Dustin Durant are still in the chase at 3-7 with eight more round robin matches remaining before Saturday's semifinals.

All racing is in the outer harbor off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in east Long Beach. Admission is free; snacks, refreshments and comfort stations are available. Parking in the lot at the base of the pier is complimentary, as is transit out to the end of the pier.

Results and standings

Round 6
Gavin Brady, New Zealand-Annapolis, Md., def. William Tiller, New Zealand, 28 seconds.
Eric Monnin, Switzerland, d. Taylor Canfield, U.S. Virgin Islands, 0:04.
Simone Ferrarese, Italy, d. Laurie Jury, New Zealand, 0:08.
Staffan Lindberg, Finland, d. Ian Williams, UK, 0:32.
Dustin Durant, USA, d. Johnie Berntsson, Sweden, 0:40.
d. 0:27.

Round 7
Williams d. Jury, DNF; Brady d. Berntsson, 0:32; Canfield d. Durant, 1:11; Tiller d. Ferrarese, DSQ; Lindberg d. Monnin, 0:02.

Round 8
Brady d. Canfield, 0:14; Durant d. Ferrarese, 0:01; Tiller d. Lindberg, 1:01; Berntsson d. 0:02; Williams d. Monnin, 0:14.

Round 9
Brady d. Durant, DNF; Canfield d. Tiller, 0:02; Ferrarese d. Monnin, 0:10; Lindberg d. Jury, 0:05; Williams d. Berntsson, 0:24.

Round 10
Lindberg d. Durant, 0:20; Canfield d. Berntsson, 0:15; Monnin d. Jury, 0:15; Williams d. Tiller, 0:07; Ferrarese d. Brady, 0:22.

Standings (after 10 of 18 rounds)
1. Gavin Brady, 9-1
2-3 Staffan Lindberg and Ian Williams, 6-4;
4-5 Taylor Canfield and Simone Ferrarese, 5-5;
6-8 Johnnie Berntsson, Eric Monnin and Will Tiller, 4-6;
9-10 Durant and Laurie Jury, 3-7.

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