by Rich Roberts
Dave Perry's long week of sailboat racing started out with last place in the Heritage Regatta fleet race Sunday but he blasted back to first place on opening day Stage One of the 50th Congressional Cup Monday, winning four of five match races.
Durant (7) has inside edge on Dickson at the weather mark
At age 59, he went from the youngest skipper in the fleet Sunday to the oldest Monday, so he just couldn't handle the old guys?
'That was fleet racing,' he said, smiling. 'I'm not really into that anymore. It's a different game.'
Whatever it is, Perry, who dealt runnerup Phil Robertson of New Zealand his only loss, is in strong position among the six Stage One competitors to be one of the four who will join five former Congressional Cup winners and world number one - ranked Taylor Canfield of the U.S. Virgin Islands in Stage Two Wednesday through Sunday.
Christopher Poole of the Seawanhaka Corinthian YC in Oyster Bay, N.Y. isn't even out of the chase at one - four, but he'll have to crack a two - three crush among locals Scott Dickson and Dustin Durant and Australia's Keith Swinton.
Durant leads Perry off the start line - The Congressional Cup 2014
The second round of racing is scheduled to start Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., conditions permitting and conditions barely permitted it Monday, leaving a sunny and slightly hazy day windless until 12:32 p.m., then building from four knots to ten from the southwest by the third flight, then fading after the fifth flight.
Principal race officer Randy Smith called it a day just after four o'clock and said he saw 'a lot of happy faces after we pulled the plug.'
That was okay with Perry. Although a two-time Congressional Cup winner in 1983 and 1984, he said he was thrilled to be invited back for the event's golden anniversary, bringing longtime friend Dave Dellenbaugh and Dellenbaugh's daughter Rebecca to serve on his five-person crew. When he won his pair of Crimson Blazers there were few foreign entries; now they dominate the game, with nine sailors in their 20s and 30s winning the last nine Congressional Cups.
'To me,' Perry said, 'they're in their primes. I wish there were more U.S. guys doing it.'
Durant, 26, is doing it quite well. Perry held him off by four seconds in Monday's first race.
'We both had to look down the (finish) line to see who won,' Perry said.
Dickson said his problem was that 'we practiced for two weeks when it was blowing unusually hard, and it wasn't anything like that today. Like they say, it's never like that here.'
Phil Robertson (r.) presses Durant at start - The Congressional Cup 2014
The Stage One winner will receive the Ficker Cup, which honors 1974 Congressional Cup winner Bill Ficker, who also skippered the 1970 America's Cup winner Intrepid.
Spectators enjoy incomparable viewing of the races from Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Admission is free, with paid parking at the base of the pier. Seating, free public shuttles, concessions and comfort stations are available.
Follow Congressional Cup on Facebook or Twitter for daily weather conditions and approximate start times: 11:00-11:30 a.m. Or listen to the play-by-play on VHF Channel 20.
The Congressional Cup has been an innovator in the game of match racing, introducing on-the-water umpiring in the early 1990s, plus a high level of organization with a unique volunteer force of more than 300 LBYC members. Each competing crew is assigned a boat hostess and housing team, who deliver the outstanding local hospitality characteristic of Congressional Cup for half a century, alongside world-class yacht racing.
Scott Dickson's crew battles the spinnaker - The Congressional Cup 2014
Long Beach Yacht Club has been one of the nation’s premiere boating institutions since its founding in 1929, located at 6201 E. Appian Way in Long Beach, Calif.
Stage One results:
Flight One---Dave Perry, Pequot YC, Conn. def. Dustin Durant, LBYC, 4 seconds; Phil Robertson, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, def. Christopher Poole, Seawanhaka Corinthian YC, N.Y., 0:45; Keith Swinton, South of Perth YC N.Z., def. Scott Dickson, LBYC, 16 seconds.
Flight Two---Perry d. Poole, 0:28; Durant d. Swinton, DNF; Robertson d. Dickson, 0:30.
Flight Three---Swinton d. Poole, 0:31; Durant d. Dickson, 0:04; Perry d. Robertson, 0:04.
Flight Four---Dickson d. Poole, 0:23; Perry d. Swinton, DNF; Robertson d. Durant, 0:25.
Flight Five---Dickson d. Perry, 0:12; Poole d. Durant, 0:12; Robertson d. Swinton, 0:15.
Standings (after five of ten flights)---1. Perry, 4-1; 2. Robertson, 4-1; 3. Durant, Swinton and Dickson, 2-3; 6. Poole, 1-4.
Sunday's report on the Heritage Regatta erred in noting that skippers Skip Allan of Los Angeles YC and Scott Allan of Newport Harbor YC were not related. Skip, 69, is the older brother of Scott, 67, who was 20 when he won the third Congressional Cup in 1967.