by Rich Roberts
Congressional Cup, day 1, Long Beach, California.
Francesco Bruni and umpires follow Simone Ferrarese, who is carrying a penalty - Congressional Cup 2011
As Ian Williams of Great Britain steered his Catalina 37 past the transom of Long Beach Yacht Club's new race committee boat during a pre-start sequence on Day 1 of the 47th Congressional Cup Tuesday he noticed the principal race officer tending the barbecue.
'How about a couple of burgers?' Williams asked Randy Smith.
He didn't get any snacks but he did fill his racing plate with a half-dozen wins to share first place with two other former winners, Francesco Bruni and Mathieu Richard, all of scored 6-0 records in sidestepping harm from the flurry of 23 penalties inflicted by the on-water umpires.
Based on the average, the number suggests that twice as many 'Y' flag protests were not allowed, but those allowed included one black flag, the ultimate blow calling for immediate disqualification, usually for failing to execute a penalty turn promptly enough to satisfy the umps.
That one caught Dave Perry, the U.S. entry, near the end of his match against Williams at day's end. Perry is generally regarded as the foremost racing rules authority in the country, as well as a veteran match racing veteran and winner of back-to-back Congressional Cups in 1983 and '84, a resume noted by another former winner, Sweden's Johnie Berntsson, one of his rivals here.
'I should take him to a rules seminar,' Berntsson said, smiling.
On his part, Berntsson (3-3) was tied for fourth place with, uh, Perry. They are scheduled to meet today when the fleet completes the first of two round-robins leading to the weekend's sailoffs.
The racing conditions were ideal, starting before noon at five knots from the south but quickly shifting to 12 and ultimately a chilling 15 from the southwest source of Long Beach's notorious sea breeze funneling down the San Pedro Channel between Santa Catalina Island and the mainland.
Umpires' red flag means New Zealand's Phil Robertson must do his penalty turn immediately - Congressional Cup 2011
Richard said, 'We had to fight hard for some of [the wins], but it was a very good day.'
Bruni: 'My crew did a very good job, especially when my starts weren't so good.'
Ironically, Williams spent his practice time Monday against Perry, noting, 'He's a good guy to practice against because he puts you in a lot of unusual situations.'
Racing continues Tuesday sometime after 11:30 a.m. The race course is off the end of Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in east Long Beach, well inside the breakwater of the outer Long Beach Harbor. There is public parking at the base of the pier and free shuttles out to the end, where there is expert commentary, limited seating, a snack bar, restaurant and comfort stations.
The total purse is $40,000, with $10,000 for the winner.
Standings After 6 of 18 flights
1. Tie among Francesco Bruni, Italy; Ian Williams, Great Britain, and Mathieu Richard, France, 6-0.
4. Tie between Johnie Berntsson, Sweden, and Dave Perry, USA, 3-3.
6. Tie between Evgeny Neugodnikov, Russia, and Simone Ferrarese, Italy, 2-4.
8. Tie between Staffan Lindberg, Finland, and Phil Robertson, New Zealand, 1-5.
10. Taylor Canfield, U.S. Virgin Islands, 0-6.
Individual Race Results: http://www.lbyc.org/UserFiles/file/Congressional%20Cup%202011/2011%20Congressional%20Cup%20Results%20%20Sheet-Day%201.pdf
The 47th annual Congressional Cup will be held March 22nd – March 26th in Long Beach, California.