by Rich Roberts
So go figure how it is that in an event billing 'an international fleet of ambitious young sailors' hoping to qualify for next week's 49th Congressional Cup, the team on top after day one of the Long Beach Yacht Club's Ficker Cup has an average age of 41.
2013 Ficker Cup Day 1
That would be the local veteran Scott Dickson's crew that swept the table of five opening matches Friday to stand ahead of imposing opposition that includes some of the highest ranked match racers in the world, such as Taylor Canfield, age 24 and No.8, of the U.S. Virgin Islands, (4-1); Jordan Reece, 22 and No.16, of Australia (2-3), and Dustin Durant, 25 and No.31, of Long Beach (2-3).
Dickson, 42, beat them all with solid tactics and fast sailing in shifty winds running from seven to 12 knots from the southwest and south. He was guided by tactician Steve Flam, 51, and a crew of trimmers John Busch, 53, and Phil Toth, 31; mainsail trimmer Chad Hough, 39, and the kid on the bow, Erik Berzins, 29.
Dickson was around when the Catalina 37s emerged as the Congressional Cup boats of choice a couple of decades ago and has lost track of how many Congressionals he has sailed in, although he says, 'I know I've finished in every place but first.'
He hardly match races at all anymore, spending more time ocean racing on even larger boats.
'These boats are smaller than most of the ones I drive now,' he said.
The secret to winning? 'Steve and I take one race at a time … one leg at a time. But we're always aiming at consistency.'
Hough thinks the team's maturity may be a factor.
2013 Ficker Cup Day 1
'When things aren't going well we don't lose our cool,' he said, 'like we did when we were young.'
Busch said, 'We should try to get AARP as a sponsor.'
The teams will sail two more rounds Saturday, then advance into sailoffs for the championship Sunday.
All of the racing is at Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, starting at 11:30 a.m. or later each day, as conditions permit. Admission is free. Bleachers, comfort stations and a snack bar are available. Parking is at the base of the pier.
The Ficker Cup is named for Bill Ficker, who was skipper of the 12-Meter Intrepid that successfully defended the America's Cup against Australia's Gretel II in 1970. The noted Newport Beach architect also won the Congressional Cup in 1974 and the Star class world championship in 1958. He will present the trophy to the winners.
Round 1: Waturu Sakamoto, Japan, def. Dustin Durant, Long Beach; Scott Dickson, Long Beach, def. Taylor Canfield, U.S. Virgin Islands; Peter Holz, Chicago, def. Jordan Reece, Australia; Chris Poole, Portland, Maine, def. Colin Rathbun, British Virgin Islands.
Round 2: Durant d. Poole; Canfield d. Holz; Dickson d. Reece; Sakamoto d. Rathbun.
Round 3: Canfield d. Sakamoto; Dickson d. Durant; Holz d. Rathbun; Reece d. Poole.
Round 4: Dickson d. Rathbun; Sakamoto d. Reece; Canfield d. Poole; Durant d. Holz.
Round 5: Canfield d. Rathbun; Dickson d. Poole; Sakamoto d. Holz; Reece d. Durant.
Standings (after 5 of 7 races): Dickson, 5-0; Canfield and Sakamoto, 4-1; Reece, Holz and Durant, 2-3; Poole, 1-4; Rathbun, 0-5.
Congressional Cup website