Photos © Rich Roberts
Ian Williams leads Simone Ferrarese, his chosen semifinal foe, on day four of the 49th Congressional Cup
Switzerland's Eric Monnin leads the exhibition fleet race home on day four of the 49th Congressional Cup
Williams leads final four into a 4-nation sail-off
Ian Williams endured his most difficult part of the Long Beach Yacht Club's 49th Congressional Cup week Friday night when it came time to pick his opponent for Saturday's championship sailoffs.
"It's really a hard choice," he said after winning the privilege with a 16-2 won-lost record in the double round robins, well up on Simone Ferrarese (13-5), Ed Baird (12-6) and Mathieu Richard (11-7), who nudged out Adam Minoprio (10-8). "In this situation it's all bad options."
His choice: Ferrarese, the 15th-ranked match racer in the world who showed some skillfully aggressive form and whose only loss the last two days was to... Williams. By 5 seconds.
The other three semifinalists are all former winners: Williams the previous two years, Baird in 2004 and Richard in 2007. The final foursome also represents four nationalities: a Brit, an Italian, a Yank and a Frenchman, in order of their round robin records.
A fifth national, a Kiwi---Adam Minoprio of New Zealand---missed by a point in a frustrating loss to Baird in the next to last flight. Minoprio was called for a pre-start foul and led around the course, but never by enough to clear himself with a penalty turn.
He praised his crew later, saying, "The guys sailed really well and gave us a chance to win. It just didn't happen."
Another hard-luck tale was Scott Dickson's loss to Australia's young Jordan Reece. The Long Beach local hope, a native of New Zealand, had a runaway lead on the second upwind leg but rounded the alternate yellow mark buoy instead of the assigned orange buoy. Reece, sensing something was wrong and he had nothing to lose, followed Dickson around the yellow one, then also rounded the orange one.
Dickson's spinnaker sponsor, Bob Atkins of Friedman's appliance business, took the blame.
"They asked me to call the [layline to] the windward mark," he said, "and I'm color blind so I called the yellow one."
He was kidding. Although Atkins was on the boat, as an on-board guest he wasn't allowed to offer any suggestions.
Certainly, Ferrarese seemed more serious. While Williams noted that "I can't remember a real handling error we made all week," his upcoming opponent spoke cautiously.
"We're still feeling each other out," he said. "I'm happy that we're going to get a shot to win this event."
An unofficial exhibition fleet race into the harbor followed Friday's racing and was the highlight of the week for Eric Monnin of Switzerland, who won only 3 of 18 match races but led the flock of spinnakers back to LBYC.
The action may be seen on t2p.tv's daily video highlights. The racing also is shown daily in live streaming video.
The sailoffs will be best-of-three. There also will be a fleet race for the six non-qualifiers.
Competition is at Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier on the Long Beach outer harbor starting at 11:30 a.m., conditions permitting. Admission is free. Bleachers, comfort stations and a snack bar are available. Parking is at the base of the pier, with complimentary golf cart service available from the beach to the end of the pier.
The Congressional has a $60,000 purse, including $15,000 to the winner, along with the traditional Crimson Blazer. Financial support is from local, national and international sponsors.
Correction: An earlier report here that Adam Minoprio's parents had come from New Zealand to watch the racing from the pier was inaccurate. It is the parents of Minoprio's bowman, Nick Blackman, whose father Ross is an executive with the Emirates Team New Zealand America's Cup team and is living in San Francisco through the competition this summer.
LBYC set the bar for world-class match racing in 1965 when it started the event and Rear Commodore Bill Dalessi persuaded Congressman Craig Hosmer and U.S. Senator Tom Kuchel to sponsor official legislation endorsing it as the Congressional Cup.
Some 20 years later, weary of late night protest hearings back at the club, then-LBYC Commodore Pete Ives, with input from influential sailing leaders, introduced on-water umpiring that revolutionized the game worldwide for competitors and spectators as far up as the America's Cup.
The Congressional Cup has maintained a high level of organization with a unique volunteer force of some 300 club members and their families. Each crew is assigned boat hostesses and a housing team to deliver the outstanding local hospitality the Congressional Cup has offered now for 49 years.
Taylor Canfield, U.S. Virgin Islands, def. Ian Williams, Great Britain, 15 seconds
Ed Baird, USA, def. Laurie Jury, New Zealand, 24 seconds
Scott Dickson, USA, def. Adam Minoprio, New Zealand, 20 seconds
Jordan Reece, Australia, def. Mathieu Richard, France, 57 seconds
Simone Ferrarese, Italy, def. Eric Monnin, Switzerland, 5 seconds
Baird def. Minoprio, 0:06
Reece d. Dickson, no time
Richard d. Monnin, 0:08
Jury d. Canfield, 0:03
Williams d. Ferrarese, 0:05
Baird d. Dickson, 0:03
Richard d. Minoprio, 0:02
Ferrarese d. Reece, 0:06
Canfield d. Monnin, 0:16
Williams d. Jury, 0:18
Standings after Day 4: (18 rounds)
1. Williams, 16-2
2. Ferrarese, 13-5
3. Baird, 12-6
4. Richard, 11-7
5. Minoprio, 10-8
6. Canfield, 9-9
7. Reece, 6-12
8. Dickson and Jury, 5-13
10. Monnin, 3-15
General: Artwise, Belmont Athletic Club Wellness Spa, Catalina Yachts, City National Bank, Ganahl Lumber, Gelson's Super Markets, Heritage Realty, Legend Sports Bar, Mount Gay Rum, PCS Group, Primary Color, Serv-Rite Beverage Warehouse, City Wide Escrow.
Spinnaker: Creative Productions, F&M Bank, Hotel Maya, Team Campbell Logistics, McKennas on the Bay, Newmeyer and Dillion, Time Warner Cable, Ullman Sails, Union Bank.
Government relations: CVB, Port of Long Beach.
Race Committee boat: Stella Beer.