Kjaer, Borch, Perry e Holz Advance to semifinals in ficker cup at Long Beach Yacht Club
Kjaer, Borch, Perry, Holz advance to semi-finals in Ficker Cup
Ficker Cup defending champion Emil Kjaer (DEN) continued his domination on the race course today, as the international field of competitors battled for advancement to the semifinal stages in this Grade 2 match racing regatta at Long Beach Yacht Club. The fleet sailed under warm sunshine, with breezes of six to eight knots that freshened to 16 by day's end: ideal conditions are expected to continue through tomorrow's final day of racing for the Ficker Cup.
Kjaer and his young Danish team went undefeated in the round robin series until the final flight, when he pulled dual penalties in the fiery prestart against Jeppe Borch (DEN). Both Kjaer and Borch had secured their spots in the semifinals early in this series, and were joined by Dave Perry – who started the regatta at a slow simmer, but was on fire today.
Vying for the last of four slots, it came down to the wire for Peter Holz (USA) and Jeffrey Petersen (USA). Squaring off in the last flight of the round robins, Holz had seven wins; Petersen six. A win for Holz would cement his berth, while a win for Petersen would even the score and give him the tie-breaker. But an OCS by Petersen in the prestart gave Holz an advantage which he carried around the course, to finish first and capture the final place in the semis.
Holz was Kjaer's pick for the semifinal matches, leaving Perry to battle it out with Borch. The winners of the semifinal rounds will both qualify for the Congressional Cup: but only one will capture the prestigious Ficker Cup title.
Kjaer acknowledged "a little bit of luck" in his command of the series, against such high level of competition. "We actually haven't done a lot of match racing recently, but have done a lot of other sailing that has helped us improve our boat speed. But not doing a lot of match racing recently ... it was a bit of a surprise that we came back into it that easily."
"I thought we were going to have to relearn it and work through some big mistakes – especially at the starts – and we did! But somehow we always turned out lucky, and we've had good speed," Kjaer added.
He credited Joachim Aschenbrenner, a veteran Congressional Cup skipper, with acing the tactics for the crew. "He is a really experienced match racing sailor, so I can put all my energy into making the boat fast. We've got five guys focusing on speed, and one guy focusing on the match racing tactics. And it's working."
But Kjaer wasn't taking anything for granted.
"Yeah, we won a lot of races, but I'm sure everyone else is going to improve pretty quickly. So we have to sort out the mistakes we're doing, and learn quick as well, to keep winning," said Kjaer. "We are hopefully going to qualify for the Congressional Cup: that's our big goal."
Racing continues Saturday at the Congressional Cup stadium, a designated racecourse adjacent the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Spectators are invited to watch the action at 11:30AM daily.
The winner of the Ficker Cup and runner-up will advance to the Congressional Cup, to be held April 19 to 23. For full details on the Congressional Cup.