Saturday, 19 March 2011

Ficker Cup: Day Two: Ferrarese, Tiller lead way into Ficker Cup semifinals

Pre-start sparring between Bob Hughes (l.) (crewed by Torvar Mirksy (AUS), and Mirsky Racing Team) and Dustin Durant. Image copyright Rich Roberts.

by Rich Roberts

How about cooking up a bit more international flavoring to next week's 47th Congressional Cup?

The Ficker Cup may add even more spice to the granddaddy of the match racing game that already has seven nations and the U.S. Virgin Islands entered when it winds up Saturday to advance its winner to fill the 10th entry slot.

Close, but no foul. Image copyright Rich Roberts.

Simone Ferrarese of Italy and Will Tiller of New Zealand sailed through their round robins with 6-1 records enhanced by 2-0 wins in the quarterfinals Friday, and Ferrarese won the privilege of picking his semi-finals opponent by dealing Tiller his only loss in the last two weeks, including an 11-0 effort in the Butler Cup earlier this month.

Be assured the Italian, ranked 21st in the world, won't pick the Kiwi, who is ranked 35th, so it will be either Chris Nesbitt from Balboa Yacht Club down the coast or Bob Hughes from Michigan's Macatawa Bay YC. Both are 6-4 overall through the quarterfinals.

"Maybe Nesbitt," said Ferrarese, who had just swept the overwhelmed and winless Mike Komar, a late recruit to drive the boat Oyster Bay, N.Y., 2-0.

Image copyright Rich Roberts.

A brisk and bone-chilling breeze blew southwest to west up to 14 knots through the afternoon, perhaps an encore to Saturday's forecast for rain.

Ferrarese beat Tiller by 1 1/2 boat lengths in the closest match of the day but may have had a little help from an intruder along the way.

"A boat from another match took us out," Tiller said, and Ferrarese agreed.

Hughes drew a pre-start penalty against Australia's David Chapman but sailed a solid race to put himself in strong position to erase it at the finish line and clinch their quarterfinal sailoff. But as he was dropping his spinnaker near the race committee boat and starting his 270-degree turn, the plan went awry.

The on-water umpires quickly ruled that he hadn't completed his turn properly, and as he turned to re-cross the finish line he ran over the spinnaker and went dead in the water as Chapman breezed past for the win.

No matter. Hughes won the deciding race to reach the sail-offs.

Tiller (in boat 1) drives between Chris Nesbitt and the mark, forcing a foul. Images copyright Rich Roberts.

The spectator-friendly competition is running directly off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in east Long Beach. Daily starting times - approximately noon - will be determined by weather conditions.

The Ficker Cup is named for Bill Ficker, who was skipper of the 12-Meter Intrepid that successfully defended the America's Cup against Australia's Gretel II in 1970. The noted Newport Beach architect also won the Star class world championship in 1958.

Live video feed should be available for Saturday's racing by clicking here and then on "live feed".

Will Tiller (r.) comes down on Dustin Durant after the start. Image copyright Rich Roberts.

The 47th Congressional Cup March will follow next Tuesday through Saturday. Several of the world's top-ranked sailors from eight countries and one U.S. territory will compete for the iconic prize in the United States' only Grade 1 match racing event.

The list is headed by 2007 winner Mathieu Richard of France, ranked No. 3 in the world, and also includes Ian Williams of Great Britain, No. 5; 2010 winner Francesco Bruni of Italy, No. 8; Evgeny Neugodnikov of Russia, No. 9; Phil Robertson of New Zealand, No. 10; 2009 winner Johnie Berntsson of Sweden, No. 17; Staffan Lindberg of Finland, No. 19; Taylor Canfield of the U.S. Virgin Islands, No. 29, and Dave Perry of the U.S., No. 36.

Ficker Cup Day 2 action. Image copyright Rich Roberts.


7 round-robin flights
1. Tie between Simone Ferrarese, Italy, and William Tiller, New Zealand, 6-1.
3. Tie between Chris Nesbitt, Balboa YC, Calif., David Chapman, Australia, and Bob Hughes, Macatawa Bay YC, 4-3.
6. John Horsch, Treasure Island Sailing Club, San Francisco, 3-4.
7. Dustin Durant, Long Beach, 1-6.
8. Mike Komar, Oakcliff Sailing Center, 0-7.

Hughes def. Chapman, 2-1.
Nesbitt d. Horsch, 2-1.
Tiller d. Durant, 2-0.
Ferrarese d. Komar, 2-0.

Ficker Cup