Today was day 1 of the Long Beach Yacht Club's Ficker Cup. Apparently, a good sailor is never too young or too old to be a successful match racer.
Two competitors from opposite sides of the USA---Mike Quaglio, 37, from Armonk, N.Y. and Nevin Snow, 18, of San Diego---each posted 4-1 records to take the early lead in the three-day event running off Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in the outer harbor of Long Beach, which identifies itself as 'the Aquatic Capital of America' for its multi-marine interests. Quaglio, representing the Oakcliff Sailing Center in New Jersey, currently gets a slight edge for beating Snow in their faceoff match, but they'll meet again in the second round robin Friday or Saturday, and the overall pack of eight is tight enough that it could turn around in a couple of races.
The ultimate winner after 14 races over two round robins of the Grade 3 event will claim the open 10th berth in next week's Grade 1 48th Congressional Cup in the same Catalina 37s in the same spectator-friendly venue. There will be no sailoffs unless there is an unbreakable tie for the top. Dustin Durant, 24, of Long Beach and Mike Komar, 23, of the Oakcliff SC, share a close third place at 3-2 each.
Once a mid-day layer of fog faded away, the sailors were tested over a range of southwest breeze from 7.5 building to 15 knots through the five flights. Some arrived as veteran match racers; others are just breaking in. Quaglio, like Komar a member of the match race training program at Dawn Riley's Oakcliff SC, started the day with a loss to Nicholas Dugdal, 21, of the San Francisco YC, but then ran off wins against Durant, Snow, Canada's Peter
Wickwire and Nicole Breault of St. Francis YC.
'That was pretty exciting,' he said. 'We had some bad starts and were fighting in all the races.' They had a fierce tacking duel with Breault, 'but after the 15th tack we pulled ahead,' Quaglio said.
Breault, 40, is the oldest skipper here, while Snow is the youngest, but the latter has far more match racing experience, winning numerous youth and open events across the country. If he advances to the Congressional Cup he'll need a note to skip next week's senior class schedule at Cathedral Catholic, which has a strong sailing program.
'We've raced against all these guys before,' Snow said. 'We've done all of the Grade 3 events and we're the youngest team out here.' With perhaps one exception. His tactician is Steve Flam, a veteran of numerous Congressional Cups who has marked his 50th birthday.
Meantime, a slightly younger Scott Dickson is calling Durant's tactics.
Although Breault stands at 1-4, it would seem she can only get better. Bad starts---critical in match racing---did her in more than bad sailing overall. 'This is my first match racing as a skipper,' she said, 'and the bigger boats are a challenge to me.'
Also, she is just becoming acquainted with her crew, all of whom are from the area, not San Francisco. In their fourth race they pushed Dugdale downwind to the finish line boat for boat until a spinnaker flub on the final jibe.
'I'm really proud of my guys,' she said. 'We're getting together and I think we're gonna be tough tomorrow.'
Results and standings (after of 5 flights in Round 1)
1. Mike Quaglio, Oakcliff Sailing Center, N.J., 4-1.
2. Nevin Snow, San Diego YC, 4-1.
3. Dustin Durant, Long Beach YC, 3-2.
4. Mike Komar, Oakcliff Sailing Center, N.J., 3-2.
5. tie between Peter Wickwire, Royal Canadian YC, and Nicholas Dugdale, San Francisco YC, 2-3.
7. tie between Nicole Breault, St. Francis YC, and Brad Funk, Lauderdale YC, Fla., 1-4.
Ficker Cup complete results here
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.
by Rich Roberts
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9:44 AM Fri 23 Mar 2012GMT
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