by Rick Roberts
When Long Beach Yacht Club hosts the second annual Butler Cup, an ISAF Grade 5 match race series, April 10-11 and June 12-13, Chris Nesbitt and his team from Balboa Yacht Club will be defending the title they won in the 2009 inaugural event.
Chris Nesbitt (at helm) and his team from Balboa Yacht Club dominated the 2009 Butler Cup. - Butler Cup
Six West Coast skippers and their teams will take their best shot at winning the series that acts as a match racing training platform for experienced sailors who want to break into match racing.
Perhaps it’s all the hoopla of the 33rd America’s Cup, or the attraction of going head-to-head in the same Catalina 37s used in LBYC’s Congressional Cup, or maybe a combination of both. Whatever the reason, interest in match racing is growing in this country and, locally, it seems that’s all everyone is talking about.
Nesbitt said, 'It’s an excellent time for those getting into match racing, with the interest in America’s Cup and a recent emphasis by clubs like Long Beach hosting ranked regattas like Butler Cup and Ficker Cup. It’s encouraging other clubs to host similar regattas and expand the sport.'
The winner of the Butler Cup receives an invitation to the Ficker Cup in 2011, the weekend just before the ISAF Grade 1 match race Congressional Cup---the prize for winning the Ficker Cup. With skill and hard work, skippers and their teams have a real opportunity to move up the ISAF match racing rankings and compete in top ranked World match races.
Challenging Nesbitt from LBYC is Dave Hood and his team that have been together on the Catalina 37s for quite a while.
'My team and I have been fleet racing and competing successfully in these boats for several years,' Hood said. 'Sailing in these boats allows us to highlight teamwork. This type of racing is very demanding on skipper and crew throughout the event.'
The event is named for Frank Butler, founder of Catalina Yachts, who in 1990 designed, built and donated the 11 Catalina 37s used for all of the match races held at LBYC. These same boats are also used for fleet race events and are available for charter through the Long Beach Sailing Foundation.
Hood said, 'The sailing community is so fortunate that Mr. Butler made this fleet of identical sailboats expressly for match racing. We are thankful for the opportunity to participate in this year’s Butler Cup.'
Entry information and Notice of Race available at www.lbyc.org .