Petersen, Breault, Weis and Thomson advance to semis in Ficker Cup

Petersen, Breault, Weis and Thomson advance to semis in Ficker Cup

Petersen, Breault, Weis and Thomson advance to semis in Ficker Cup


16/04/2023 - 06:50

Jeffrey Petersen (USA), Nicole Breault (USA), Christopher Weis (USA) and Megan Thomson (NZL) have advanced to the semifinals in the Ficker Cup, after two days of double round robin racing: inching them closer to an invitation to next week's Congressional Cup regatta.

In cool, blustery conditions nipping at the threshold for racing the Catalina 37s, eight competitors battled for position on Day Two of the Ficker Cup. Despite gusty winds that forced the crews to switch from genoas to jibs, Long Beach Yacht Club's Race Committee pushed to complete the round robin series and start the semifinals.

Qualifying for the semis were Petersen, who remained undefeated after fourteen races, plus Weis and Breault both 9-5. Thomson snuck in on a tiebreaker over Peter Holz (USA) and Pearson Potts (USA). In the first matches of the semifinal stage Thomson beat Breault, and Petersen bested Weis. The semis will continue tomorrow Sunday April 16 and the winners will advance to the finals: with the top two teams qualifying for Congressional Cup racing, which begins Tuesday April 18.

Potts, whose team just missed the semis, pointed out his Rhode Island-based crew had until recently "been hibernating." He noted, "We haven't sailed in a long time and had a lot of rust to shake off: I knew there was going to be a bit of a learning curve." But Potts is a force off the water, as well as on. As Chair of the US Match Racing Committee he and a team of volunteers help organize events around the States and beyond, "trying to grow the sport of match racing and expand opportunities for sailors."

Unlike fleet racing, match racing consists of two boats racing against each other in a one-on-one duel of skill and strategy. The basic objective is to be first of the pair across the finish line. Teams advance based on points won. The most well-known match racing event is the America's Cup.

"Match racing is an exciting aspect of the sport of sailing. I think a lot of people drop out of sailing after college, but this is a great way to stay in the sport," Potts added. "For sailors who don't want to buy a boat yet or just want to sail at a higher level, match racing is a great pathway. I just love it, and having spent a lot of time sailing, chairing the committee is my way of giving back."

"Match racing is definitely a beautiful combination of sailing skills and chess-like strategy," concurred Tony Mansour, Chairman of the 2023 Ficker Cup. It had been perceived more of an elite sport in the past, "But it's no longer a niche," he pointed out. "It is still the highest level of sailing, and wonderful to watch it manifest and unfold out on the water. More and more people are getting the opportunity to participate."

It's a credit to programs and competitions such as the Ficker Cup and its feeders. "My daughter is in high school sailing and many of her teammates are taking an interest in match racing," Mansour continued. "Getting junior sailors more involved in match racing is how we'll keep building into events like Butler Cup and the California Dreamin' Series – and ultimately Ficker Cup, Congressional Cup and the America's Cup, for that matter."

Ficker Cup was founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1980 to honor legendary yachtsman Bill Ficker. "The competition has only gotten more intense, and the level has improved so much over the years," said Mansour, who added, "It's a tremendous honor to be the Chairman of Ficker Cup and to represent Long Beach Yacht Club as the organizing authority of this regatta."

"I think if you take any of these Ficker Cup skippers today and put them against Congressional Cup skippers of 20 years ago, you might find they're pretty evenly matched. The level of skill continues to intensify, which is exciting because it elevates the game for everybody. We're excited that Long Beach Yacht Club can provide this opportunity to bring together some of the world's best skippers and teams and see them grow and excel: and for the two very best teams to move on to the big show: the Congressional Cup."

Deon Macdonald echoed the joy in watching the effervescent racing atmosphere. The daughter of the late Bill Ficker, she said, "My dad would be absolutely thrilled beyond belief to see this continuing. He always considered it an honor that they created the Ficker Cup, and was very grateful and thankful for it. Long Beach Yacht Club does such a good job of keeping the spirit alive."

"He'd be so excited to see all the young kids, and the old kids," she laughed, "and everyone in between, competing. Sailing spans generations and that's what makes it so fun and special. It's great to see people from all over the country and the world racing, having fun, and matching their skills at a great event like this."

The semifinals and finals will continue tomorrow, Sunday April 16, to determine the winner of the Ficker Cup and which two teams will advance to the Congressional Cup next week.

Watch the races live from Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier at 39th Place & E. Ocean in Long Beach, starting at roughly 11:30AM or follow the Ficker Cup online

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