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22 April 2004, 09:32 am
Brady Crashes Into First Place In Congressional Cup
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Gavin BRADY leads Sweden's Mattias RAHM © Event Media

Congressional Cup
Long Beach, California

The sound of crunching fiberglass was a sour note in Gavin BRADY's otherwise brilliant day yesterday when he extended his winning streak to eight by winning all four of his races in the ISAF Grade 1 Long Beach Yacht Club's 40th Congressional Cup.
A windward mark collision with fellow New Zealander Cameron APPLETON---Kiwi vs. Kiwi---in the last round of the day was ruled a foul on Appleton because Brady was on starboard tack at the mark, while Appleton was on port. But after crossing the finish line 57 seconds in front Brady was informed by ISAF International Judge and Umpire John STANDLEY that because, in the umpires' view, he didn't try to avoid the incident a half-point would be deducted from his score.

That left Brady, 30, a two-time winner of the event in 1996 and '97, with an 8-1 record halfway through the double round-robin but only 7.5 points, a half-point ahead of first-day leader Peter GILMOUR of Australia. The '88 winner lost to Brady and Long Beach's Scott DICKSON on a 2-2 day and stands 7-2. There is a four-way tie for third at 5-4.

"It's ludicrous," an angry Brady said at the dock. "Cameron never did anything to keep clear."

Standley, an Australian, agreed---but noted Rule C8.6 of the event's Sailing Instructions: "When the match umpires . . . decide that a boat has broken [Racing Rules of Sailing] 14 and damage results, they may, without a hearing, impose a penalty of half of one point."

Rule 14 requires even a right-of-way boat to avoid a collision if one seems imminent.

Appleton, 26, informed that Brady was upset about the ruling, said, "He should be---and rightly so. He caused the incident that didn't need to be caused."

Standley said, "If we had seen [Brady] let the main sail go to bear away or try in any other way to keep clear, he wouldn't have been penalized. But he tried to do nothing. He did not try to keep clear."

Brady said that to let Appleton pass in front would have, in Brady's mind, handed his opponent the lead because at the moment of decision he didn't know Appleton was about to receive a penalty.

Later, by chance, they were assigned adjacent seats on the dais at the press conference. Appleton, appearing subdued, said little other than "it was an interesting day," and Brady didn't comment further on the incident.

The bow of Brady's boat showed a three-inch nick where it put a superficial dent in Appleton's starboard gunwale 10 feet forward of the stern. Costs for repairs, if necessary, will come out one or both of their $2,500 damage deposits for use of the Long Beach Sailing Foundation's Catalina 37s.

Chief umpire Jack LLOYD of New Zealand said Brady could have requested a hearing but decided to let the matter rest.

Aside from the incident, the event had a New Zealand North flavour for the day. No Kiwi except struggling Allen COUTTS (0-9) did worse than break even. After Brady's 4-0, Kelvin HARRAP was 3-1 and Appleton and Dickson, a New Zealand native, were 2-2.

Brady's brightest moment was his win over Gilmour by 24 seconds after starting with a penalty that he did not dispute.

"We were in a compromising position when we dialled up [in the pre-start sequence]," Brady said. "We had to give way and we were slow to do so, and we got a justly deserved penalty." At the windward mark he schemed to erase the infraction "when we got [Gilmour] trapped."

Dialling up again, this time with Brady in the advantaged leeward position, Gilmour couldn't hold his bow into the wind, and as he bore away his jib touched Brady's boat---foul on Gilmour. From there it became an even sailboat race.

Gilmour said, "The tolerances are very fine if you make a mistake. We're very lucky to get away with a 2-2 score."

After 45 protests and 16 penalties in five races Tuesday, the pace of aggression accelerated with 40 protests and 15 penalties, plus Brady's half-point deduction, in only four races on Wednesday.

The sea breeze built quickly from 8 knots to 14 through the afternoon, but principal race officer Bobby FRAZIER called off racing after four rounds because of a severe wind shift to the right, foretelling a possible Santa Ana condition of desert winds for the next day or two.

"The wind went from 220 to 280, and looking [west] toward Wilmington we could see it was coming out of the northeast," Frazier said.

That was fine with Coutts' crew."Our boys were commenting on the way in that we'd had a better day today," Coutts said. "I said, 'How do you figure that?' " 'Well, we had five losses yesterday and only four today.' "

Racing continues into Saturday, starting at noon daily, conditions permitting. There is $25,000 in prize money, with $6,000 to the winning team.

Rich Roberts (As Amended by ISAF)
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