Wind & leaderboard shift on day two of Ficker Cup: Wood, Petersen, Kjaer and Potts advance
LONG BEACH, Calif. 11 September 2021 - - Beachgoers got a spectacular show as Ficker Cup racing continued today in Long Beach, Calif.
A massive midday wind shift saw the gentle to moderate breeze clock from a southwest to west-northwesterly direction. Instead of the usual course jutting out from the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, the marks were reset to run parallel to the beach. Along the shore, families swam and played Wiffle ball, and anglers cast futile lines from the pier, while the sailors fought for their lives and a spot in the semi-finals of Ficker Cup.
David Wood (USA) wowed the crowd with a flawless performance of seven wins to top the leaderboard. Jeffrey Petersen (USA) floundered but did not fail, with three losses today – one to Wood – finishing second.
Emil Kjaer (DEN) logged four more wins today to secure third place, despite a notable loss to Peter Holz (USA). A rule 15 violation [right of way boat shall give the other boat room to keep clear] earned Kjaer a flag in prestart, followed by a red flag as the Danish team had gained an advantage in the maneuver. But failing to do his penalty turn swiftly enough, Kjaer earned another flag which he carried around the course: some of the 15 flags conferred by race officials in today's heated racing.
But the loss was not enough to keep Kjaer out of the semis: nor enough to get Holz in.
After a sluggish start today, Holz rallied but slipped into fifth place in a tiebreaker with Pearson Potts (USA). [Rule C11.1 B]
Potts, a two-time US Match Racing Champion, said, "Ficker Cup represents the next step of our team's sailing career. The road to the top of the sport goes through Long Beach, so we've got to master the Catalina 37 as we climb the ladder of match racing."
"Ficker Cup and LBYC also serve as a template for how hosting a match race event should be done," Potts added. "The hospitality is unmatched, and as the Chairman of the US Sailing Match Racing Committee I hope to emulate the LBYC model across the country."
Holz, a veteran of five Ficker Cup regattas, recognized Petersen, Wood and Kjaer, noting the importance of youth match racing clinics and programs.
"I remember when we were in that spot seven or eight years ago," said the Chicago native. "There are just certain geographies in the US that do a lot better job in promoting the sport and youth match racing and the California circuit is awesome – which is why you've got great teams coming from this region." Holz added, "We've competed with them, and they continue to do well and grow, and have put really good teams around themselves to help get the boat around the track and learn some things."
Holz' team had admittedly come out swinging, at this 41st Ficker Cup. "We had a fiery first race and got a double penalty on our first opponent at the windward mark, which was an interesting and exciting way to start," Holz said: "The team is firing on all cylinders!" His mates, he noted are "six fully employed semi-pros" and their mantra this week? "This ain't no hobby."
Nicole Breault (USA), whose San Francisco team also missed the semi-finals, noted the level of competition was "top shelf."
"I really respect that; I knew this was going to be intense, a real battle, and that every single race mattered -- every single move mattered. I expected very few mistakes from any of these teams."
Breault had just come off her fourth win in the US Women's Match Racing Championship (2015, 2016, 2018 and 2021) but noted, "We don't spend a lot of time in the big boats." She has qualified twice for Ficker Cup through the California Dreamin' series, and previously raced Ficker Cup in 2015.
Breault made a strong point when she added, "We have gained some perspective on what we've been doing, and how charmed the life we were leading was, when we got to go out match racing together again. That vibe is really healthy, and we've had a good time – and make sure we recognize that every day."
Champagne conditions are expected to continue for the final day of racing Sunday Sept. 12, beginning at 11:30AM. As the frontrunner in the double round robins, Wood will choose his opponent for the semi-finals; the remaining two will duke it out. The winners of those matches will advance to the Ficker Cup finals – but each is guaranteed a berth in the 2021 Congressional Cup. The petit finals will determine places three and four – and which of those sailors will continue to Congressional Cup: and who will go home.