|KIWIS CRUMBLE IN QUARTER FINALS
Robertson & Steele out; Sehested stays strong, advances to semis with Canfield, Dickson & Gilmour
APRIL 9, 2016 LONG BEACH, CALIF - - Congressional Cup defending champion Taylor Canfield (ISV) dispatched Eric Monnin (SUI), and Nicolai Sehested (DEN) eliminated Bjorn Hansen (SWE) one-two-three, in the early matches of the Quarter Finals here today, in Stage Two of the World Match Racing Tour.
But it was a different story for Phil Robertson (NZL) and Chris Steele (NZL) – Kiwi compatriots who were placed number one and two, at the end of the Round Robins yesterday.
Robertson elected to race Sam Gilmour (AUS) – a pairing that presented stunning starts and finishes to the crowds lining the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Robertson won the first match, but Gilmour returned with two wins, before Robertson triumphed in the fourth.
In freshening breeze from the southeast they embarked on a final, sudden death match. Robertson had a clear start and carried a small advantage at the top mark, but the lead changed on the downwind leg, even as Gilmour fouled Robertson at the gate.
Splitting tacks, Gilmour went right, surging ahead to a 25-second lead. Still ahead, but carrying a penalty, the 22-year-old from Fremantle threw in a final penalty turn as Robertson approached the finish line: but too late. Gilmour took match point, eliminating Robertson from the Quarter Finals, saying, “I am ecstatic to make it this far … in some of the most exciting racing I’ve ever done.”
Dickson dives into Semis
A similar duel ensued between ‘frenemies’ Steele and Scott Dickson (USA). Steele won the first two matches, but Dickson – who earned his way into the Ficker Cup Presented by Porsche qualifier as Long Beach Yacht Club rep, then advanced to Congressional Cup – evened the score, as the home crowd roared.
In the final match, there was an early penalty on Dickson in the pre-start, but Steele was OCS at the start. Dickson went left, Steele right: a risky move in the shifty breeze, and by the top mark, Dickson’s lead had opened up to a 30 second advantage. The rest was history, as Dickson did his penalty turn and crossed the line a half a boat length ahead of Steele; beating the odds and knocking out eighth-ranked Steele, and booking his place in the Semi Finals.
The first matches of the Semi Finals commenced in the late afternoon, but were quickly abandoned as the wind dropped off. PRO Randy Smith announced an early start to tomorrow’s conclusion of Congressional Cup racing: 1100AM Sunday April 10.
More bagels than breeze
This year’s Congressional Cup has been plagued by rain, and light, shifty breezes: uncommon in the 52-year history of the event. More common, and a unique aspect of Congressional Cup, is the extravagant breakfast buffet, served by a bevy of smiling volunteers, and Larry Lane, AKA “Bagel Boy.”
There are foods for all tastes: homemade casseroles and deviled eggs; pastries, cheese and meat trays; and a selection of bagels, “freshly made, and lovingly toasted to order,” between 7:00 and 10:30AM.
Each day Lane, 78, serves an average of eight dozen bagels with about six pounds of cream cheese and 10 pounds of lox. That’s a lot of bagels and a lot of schmear, announced Lane, who said his only pay is, “all the bagels I can eat.”
During his tenure as the king of carbs, he said, “You name them: all the best sailors in the world have come through to get my bagels.”
“They’re all such polite, nice guys,” Lane added, but he does have his favorites and forecasts. This year, he was pulling for Chris Steele, who worked his way up through the 2015 Ficker Cup qualifier into the Congressional Cup, and a wild card invitation to the 2016 event.
Steele was eliminated in today’s races, by Dickson.
And last year, Lane predicated Ian Williams to win. The British champion however finished third, behind Taylor Canfield, and Phil Robertson, in 2015. Perhaps Lane should stick with bagels.
Congressional Cup racing continues tomorrow, Sunday April 10 at 11AM, with Semi-Finals and Finals in the waters off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in Long Beach. The public is encouraged to enjoy this world-class yacht racing, with live commentary, seating, refreshment vendors, and free parking. For more information please visit www.thecongressionalcup.com
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