by Rich Roberts
Who will Taylor Canfield pick to race in Sunday's semifinals of the Long Beach Yacht Club's Ficker Cup? It may be Japan's Waturu Sakamoto … and if Sakamoto were to win that match and ultimately the Ficker, would he collect a local crew to race in next week's 49th Congressional Cup, while tactician Laurie Jury takes the Japanese crew into the Congressional, as originally planned?
2013 Ficker Cup Day 2
All of that was on the table late Saturday as the seven round robin and four best-of-three quarterfinal matches were completed, with Canfield on an eight-race win streak following his opening loss Friday to Scott Dickson, whose own streak was stopped by Sakamoto in the sixth round Saturday.
Canfield, Sakamoto and Dickson all finished the round robins with 6-1 records, and Canfield and Dickson then swept New Zealand's Colin Rathbun and Chicago's Peter Holz, respectively, out of the quarterfinals, 2-0, as did Long Beach's Dustin Durant with Australia's Jordan Reece. Sakamoto dropped Maine's Christopher Poole, 2-1.
Canfield gets to choose his foe, but he was in no hurry as he and his crew kicked around the options over cold beer and snacks on the LBYC patio.
'We'll pick it [Sunday] morning,' he said.
He has lost to Dickson but beaten Sakamoto and Durant … oh, yeah, Durant---the 25-year-old defending Ficker champion.
While 3-4 in the round robins, his and Dickson's teams appeared to be efficient Saturday in the rough and tumble desperation that had protest flags flying wilder and thicker than the seagulls over the Long Beach outer harbor.
'We were sailing the boat well,' Durant said, although they trailed Holz early in the race after the opponent drew a pre-start penalty. 'We were really slow on the first upwind leg, but on the second leg we started catching up, [knowing] we had a penalty on him.'
When Holz dropped his spinnaker 200 meters from the finish to do a penalty turn, Durant rolled into the lead.
2013 Ficker Cup Day 2
But Canfield also could pick Sakamoto, who has opened some eyes this weekend. The key man may be a Kiwi---Jury, a New Zealander and the world's No. 7-ranked match racer who is their tactician and coach.
'He's teaching us,' Sakamoto said, noting their gold medal victory in the Asian Games in China.
Jury has been working with them in Japan for a couple of years, 'but my Japanese is still not very good,' he said. 'However, if everyone knows what to do, conversation isn't as important.'
A sidelight to Saturday's sailing was an unplanned crew substitution on Poole's boat after the day's first race. Mast/pitman Josh Rubenstein was knocked overboard below the race course when the boom struck him in the face.
'We weren't even racing,' he said later at the dock, displaying a bloody upper lip.
His mates pulled him back aboard, and he was transferred to a Long Beach Fire Dept. launch and taken to a local hospital, where he was checked and released.
Poole's was the only boat racing with seven crew members; most are limited to six because of the 1,156-pound total weight maximum. Fortunately, local sailor Bobbie Sterbins was watching the racing from the pier and knew a couple members of the crew.
2013 Ficker Cup Day 2
'I yelled down at them and asked, 'Do you guys need another sailor?' ' Sterbins said.
Sure, they replied, so racing was delayed a few minutes while Sterbins hurried home a few blocks away to grab her sailing gear.
'I ran all the way back down the pier,' she said, and was picked up by a launch that took her to the race boat.
The racing is at Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, starting at 11:30 a.m. or later, 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 6: Peter Holz, Chicago, def. Chris Poole, Portland, Maine; Waturu Sakamoto, Japan, def. Scott Dickson, Long Beach; Taylor Canfield, U.S. Virgin Islands, def. Dustin Durant, Long Beach; Jordan Reece, Australia, def. Colin Rathbun, British Virgin Islands.
Round 7: Dickson d. Holz; Sakamoto d. Poole; Durant d. Rathbun; Canfield d. Reece.
Final round Robin standings: Canfield, Dickson and Sakamoto, 6-1; Durant, Holz and Reece, 3-4; Poole, 1-6; Rathbun, 0-7
Quarterfinals: Durant d. Reece, 2-0; Dickson d. Holz, 2-0; Sakamoto d. Poole, 2-1; Canfield d. Rathbun, 2-0 (winners advance to semifinals).
Congressional Cup website