by Rick Roberts
The first stop of the 2012-2013 California Dreamin’ Series will get underway this Saturday and Sunday with the Butler Cup, an ISAF grade 3 match race hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club.
Dustin Durant (at helm) has a good shot at winning this year’s Butler Cup and is currently second in points in the 2012 California Dreamin’ Series
San Diego Yacht Club hosts the second stop of the tour, Jan. 12-13, 2013, and the teams are back in Long Beach for the third and final stop at the 2013 Butler Cup, March 16-17. Skippers for the event are Dustin Durant, LBYC; Dave Hood, LBYC; Bill Durant, LBYC; Bruce Stone, St. Francis YC; Carson Reynolds, Balboa YC and David Storrs, Pequot YC.
The teams will compete on the same Catalina 37s sailboats used in the legendary Congressional Cup held each year in the area of Long Beach’s inner harbor known as, 'Congressional Cup Stadium.'
Nestled between Island Chaffee to the east, Island White and Freeman to the west and just a stone’s throw from the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier the skippers do battle for a shot at an invitation to compete in the 2013 Grade 2 Ficker Cup, April 5-7, the principal prize for winning the three-stop California Dreamin’ Series.
David Storrs, Southport, Conn., returns to the Butler Cup this year and gets regular encouragement and support from fellow Pequot Yacht Club member and personal friend Dave Perry, who is a world-renowned match racer in his own right as well as US Sailing’s Appeals Committee chairman.
'Dave and I talk,' Storrs said, 'and he mentors me on my match racing.
'When I raced my first Butler Cup three years ago I was ranked 300th. But I’ve had great teachers who have now helped me get up to 72nd. I’m looking forward to racing against the strong match racers we’ll be seeing this weekend.'
The first Butler Cup match race was held in 2009, resurrected by LBYC member and local sailor Charlie Legeman from a fleet race format using the Catalina 37s donated by Catalina Yachts founder Frank Butler to the Long Beach Sailing Foundation.
This year, Legeman is the Principal Race Officer (PRO) and explains the evolution.
'In reviving the Butler Cup,' Legeman said, 'the intent was to stimulate match racing on the West Coast as well as honor Frank Butler. This event gives local weekend racers an opportunity to step up and try their skills at match racing. Initially it was a training series where we actually had coaches on the boats. But now it has evolved into an event that attracts racers from around the country… all shooting for a slot in the Ficker Cup.
'Dustin Durant is a classic example of what I wanted Butler Cup to accomplish. He first sailed in the training regattas and then moved up, getting an invitation to last year’s Ficker Cup. He then won the Ficker Cup and competed in this year’s Congressional Cup making a decent showing of himself. As a result of his successes he has received invitations to compete in match race regattas all across the country.'
Legeman talks about his personal transition from sailor to race committee PRO.
'Becoming a PRO is a natural progression of my sailing career,' Legeman said. 'I competed in the Butler Cup last year and still performed well. But at age 63 I notice more aches and pains than in the past. So, after serving as PRO for other regattas I’ve found I enjoy that immensely and decided to continue on that path. It’s important that a PRO has racing experience to understand and adjust to changing conditions using the eye of the competitor.'
Legeman adds, 'Just to make it clear… I am not giving up fleet or distance racing.'
Long Beach Yacht Club website