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25 March 2012, 10:47 am
Dustin Durant Takes Ficker Cup
Dustin Durant
Dustin Durant

Ficker Cup
Long Beach, USA

Nothing washes down the sniffles like a bottle of champagne, and Dustin Durant gurgled that prescription Saturday by winning his way into next week's 48th Congressional Cup with a victory in Long Beach Yacht Club's Ficker Cup.
"It wasn't a piece of cake," Durant said, unwinding on the dock. "We crashed pretty hard and had some tough races, especially since I've been sick with the flu or a cold all week."

But the 24-year-old LBYC member perked up just in time to dispatch his nearest rival, Nevin Snow, 18, of San Diego by sweeping the day 3-0 and finishing with 12 wins and 2 losses in the three-day, double round robin. Snow ended 11-3.

Durant's crew included tactician Scott Dickson, a match racing veteran who has won several Ficker Cups as a skipper and competed in a dozen Congressional Cups.

The rest of the team: Brandon Folkman, trimmer; Shane Young, main trimmer and pit; Max Moosman, downwind trimmer; Ben Wheatley, bow. Andy Witham subbed Saturday for Young, who was unavailable.

"This was my 12th Ficker Cup," Dickson said, "but my first as a tactician, and it was wonderfully rewarding."

The Ficker Cup is named for Bill Ficker of nearby Newport Beach, who presented the trophy to the winners. He was skipper of the 12-Meter Intrepid that successfully defended the America's Cup against Australia's Gretel II in 1970 and later won the Congressional Cup in 1974.

Bill Dalessi, a Congressional Cup founder, also presented the Jonah Jones trophy---a bronzed captain's hat---to Durant as an LBYC member competing in the Congressional Cup.

Although Dickson, 41, a native of New Zealand but a Long Beach resident, is older than his teammates, "he fits right in," Durant said. "He got me into match racing when he asked me to [crew] for him."

Unlike Friday, the winds Saturday were steady at 8 to 11 knots from the south, bringing tactics to the forefront. Durant and Snow both defeated their first two opponents---Canada's Peter Wickwire (8-6) never became a spoiler---before meeting in the finale.

But Durant first had to survive an umpire's hearing on the water after a pre-start collision with Nicholas Dugdale from San Francisco YC in the day's first race. As they maneuvered outside the committee boat, Dugdale jibed downwind in front of his rival and took a hit just forward of his starboard stern.

Durant said, "We were reaching [in opposite directions] and I couldn't believe he was going to jibe there. At the last second we tried to come up but it was too late."

Because of damage to Dugdale's upper hull, the umpires called both skippers over for a conference to determine responsibility for costs of repair.

Chief umpire Flavio Naveira, from Argentina, said they first determined that Dugdale was to blame.

"We first deducted a half-point for causing the damage," Naveira said, "and told him he had a right to appeal, but if he lost the appeal he would be deducted a full point"---and so it was.

Then, in the deciding race, the boats started in opposite directions---Snow to the left, Durant to the right---and Durant was slightly over at the start but did a quick dip to restart without losing much distance.

They finally crossed tacks halfway to the 0.35-nautical mile first windward leg and Durant had just enough edge to force Snow to tack underneath him. Durant was clearly in front at the next crossing and led the way to the mark … but it wasn't over yet.

At the second windward mark rounding they mingled into the match between Brad Funk and Mike Quaglio and took awhile to get sorted out.

Dickson said, "We were a couple of Catalina 37s parked there with no boat speed."

Snow came out in front as they set their spinnakers, but Durant was soon able to squeeze past inside for a controlling position that he built on to the finish line.

The Congressional Cup, featuring 10 teams from nine countries, will run Tuesday through Saturday, also off spectator-friendly Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

Final standings
(14 flights)

1. Dustin Durant, Long Beach YC, 12-2.
2. Nevin Snow, San Diego YC, 11-3.
3. Mike Quaglio, Oakcliff Sailing Center, N.Y., 9-5.
4. Peter Wickwire, Royal Canadian YC, 8-6.
5. Brad Funk, Lauderdale YC, Fla., 4-10.
6. Nicholas Dugdale, San Francisco YC, 4-9 (point deducted).
7. Mike Komar, Oakcliff Sailing Center, N.Y., 4-10.
8. Nicole Breault, St. Francis YC, 3-11
Rich Roberts
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