Friday, 18 March 2011
Chris Nesbitt reaches for penalty flag after tag by Dustin Durant. Image copyright Rich Roberts.
by Rich Roberts
Bob Hughes should have known it wasn't his day when he awakened Thursday morning.
"There were flames in the [guest] house this high," he said, his hand at chest level.
The black flag came in the afternoon during Day 1 competition of the Ficker Cup, a Grade 2 event on the ISAF scale that will determine the 10th and final entry for next week's Grade 1 47th Congressional Cup. The leaders at 5-0 are Italy's Simone Ferrarese, the 21st ranked match racer in the world, and William Tiller (No. 35) of New Zealand, after a day of light to moderate winds.
Just two weeks ago Tiller won the Grade 3 Butler Cup on the same outer harbor waters in the same Catalina 37s.
Mother Pam (I.) crews for son Dustin Durant. Image copyright Rich Roberts.
After two fairly uneventful flights Thursday the tempo picked up in the third when Ferrarese won a feisty match against Hughes, 48, whose No. 326 ranking and 2-3 record don't reflect his experience and success. He won the Canada Cup in 2007 but has spent more time fleet racing his Melges 32 than going for match racing ranking points.
Hughes' tactician is Tovar Mirsky, who is ranked No. 4 in the world---and not a Russian, as one might guess, but---surprise---a native of Australia, as is Mirsky's crew that also is on the boat.
And there were other noteworthy crew members. Local favorite Dustin Durant, representing the host Long Beach Yacht Club, is sailing with … his mother. Apparently, when Durant's six-person crew weighed in a hundred pounds under the maximum limit, he went looking for a seventh person to boost the ballast factor.
"We needed more weight," Pam Durant said before they left the dock, "an extra hundred pounds. That would be me. It'll be fun. I'm excited"
She has fleet raced with her husband Bill on the family boat, but this is her first match racing experience. They are 1-4 with two round robin matches to go before Friday's quarterfinals.
Hughes/Mirsky and Ferrarese tangled at the windward mark on the first lap of their match. Ferrarese waved his protest flag when he thought Hughes failed to allow him enough, and the on-water umpires agreed.
Simone Ferrarese (2 photos) enjoyed a 5-0 day. Images copyright Rich Roberts.
Hughes, packing a penalty for a pre-start foul, was required to do an immediate turn, and when he failed to do that there came the black flag for immediate DSQ.
No argument. Owing two penalty turns, Hughes would have had a tough time saving the race, anyway.
"We couldn't get the jib down to do the penalty," Hughes said. "The black flag I deserved. It was a close race. [Ferrarese] did a good job of sailing his boat."
Also in the early hunt is Chris Nesbitt, the 23-year-old hope from Balboa YC down the coast who suffered an aggravating black flag loss to Tiller in the Butler Cup. They'll meet again Friday.
Nesbitt hinted that the loss still gnaws at him but said his crew remains "a good group of guys. They've all let it go."
Tiller said, "Hopefully, we have a bit of an edge on him, but there's still a lot of racing to go. We had a good day. We just don't want to meddle with the umpires too much."
The eight racers are sailing one round robin. Everyone advances to the best-of-three sailoffs with the quarterfinals following the round robin Friday, then the final four will compete in the semifinals and finals Saturday to determine which one advances into the 47th Congressional Cup next week Tuesday through Saturday.
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.
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.
Crews keep it close. Image copyright Rich Roberts.
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.
(after 5 of 7 round-robin flights)
1. Tie between Simone Ferrarese, Italy, and William Tiller, New Zealand, 5-0.
3. Tie between Chris Nesbitt, Balboa YC, Calif., and David Chapman, Australia, 3-2.
5. Bob Hughes, Macatawa Bay YC, 2-3.
6. Tie between Dustin Durant, Long Beach, and John Horsch, Treasure Island Sailing Club, San Francisco, 1-4.
8. Mike Komar, Oakcliff Sailing Center, 0-5.
Ficker Cup entries
(In current ISAF ranking order)
21-Simone Ferrarese ITA (Yacht Club Cortina d'Ampezzo)
35-William Tiller NZL (Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron)
37-David Chapman AUS (Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron)
121-Chris Nesbitt USA (Balboa Yacht Club)
326-Bob Hughes USA (Macatawa Bay Yacht Club)
373- Dustin Durant USA (Long Beach Yacht Club)
392-John Horsch USA (Treasure Island Sailing Center)
834-Mike Komar USA (Oakcliff Sailing Center)