by Rich Roberts
The world's No. 1-ranked match race Britian's Ian Williams all but surprised himself. 'I don't think we've ever won 12 [match races] in a row,' he said Friday after leading the pack into Saturday's sailoffs of the Long Beach Yacht Club's 48th Congressional Cup.
The streak by Williams, the defending champion equaled the score of 14 wins and 4 losses by week-long leader Gavin Brady, a four-time winner, and Williams won the tiebreaker by virtue of his win over Brady a day earlier.
Williams thus was privileged to pick Taylor Canfield of the U.S. Virgin Islands (10-8) as his opponent in the best-of-three semifinals, leaving Brady to meet third-place Simone Ferrarese of Italy (11-7), who won all four of his races Friday.
The best-of-three finals will follow. Racing is scheduled to start at noon off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in east Long Beach. Admission is free; snacks, refreshments and comfort stations are available. Parking in the lot at the base of the pier is complimentary, as is transit out to the end of the pier.
Live streaming video of the racing and post-race press conferences may be seen at http://ustre.am/egtA
All hands were hoping for better breeze than the 4 to 6 knots from the south they saw Friday.
Canfield placed last in the double round robin a year earlier but said, 'Same crew, but the difference was time in the boat.'
And a recovery from two early losses Friday to wins over Brady and Will Tiller of New Zealand also helped.
Ferrarese, in his native language, was en fuego (on fire) Friday with four wins, all against non-qualifiers, who will sail a fleet race over a harbor course Saturday.
'We felt really fast,' Ferrarese said. 'We played the best side of the course in every race. The goal was the semifinals. Now, we need to have a strong mentality.'
Canfield had that in his turnaround win against Brady, whom he trailed at the last windward mark until slipping past for the lead and a 15-second win.
'We jibed and went over the top [windward side],' Canfield said . . . or, as Chris Larson, Brady's tactician, described it: 'When we jibed he was able to roll us. But we're happy being in the semifinals.'
Now it's time for the serious showdowns. Williams noted, 'Having 14 wins is no good for us [Saturday].'
The total purse is $60,000, with $15,000 to the winner (not $10,000, as stated in a previous report).
Congressional Cup teams sail Catalina 37s built by Catalina Yachts primarily for match racing, rotating boats daily. They are owned and maintained by the Long Beach Sailing Foundation. The unique volunteer force of some 300 club members and their families.
Results and standings
Gavin Brady, New Zealand-Annapolis, Md., d. William Tiller, New Zealand, 56 seconds.
Eric Monnin, Switzerland, d. Taylor Canfield, U.S. Virgin Islands, 0:51.
Simone Ferrarese, Italy, d. Laurie Jury, New Zealand, 0:03.
Ian Williams, UK, d. Staffan Lindberg, Finland, 0:05.
Johnie Berntsson, Sweden, d. Dustin Durant, USA. 0:57.
Williams d. Jury, 0:27; Brady d. Berntsson, 0:25; Durant d. Canfield, 1:30; Ferrarese d. Tiller, 1:16; Lindberg d. Monnin, 0:43.
Canfield d. Brady, 0:15; Ferrarese d. Durant, 1:16; Lindberg d. Tiller, 0:51; Jury d. Berntsson, 0:03; Williams d. Monnin, 0:31.
Brady d. Durant, 0:20; Canfield d. Tiller, 0:15; Ferrarese d. Monnin, 0:22;
Final round-robin standings
Williams and Brady, 14-4 (Williams wins tiebreaker); Ferrarese, 11-7; Canfield, 10-8; Lindberg, 9-9; Eric Monnin, 8-10; Berntsson and Tiller, 7-11; Dustin Durant, 4-14.
Brady vs. Ferrarese; Williams vs. Canfield.