Simone Ferrarese (ITA) and William Tiller (NZL) share the lead after the first day of racing at the 2011 Ficker Cup, a grade 2 event that will determine the tenth and final entry for next weeks Congressional Cup.
The leaders share a 5-0 race record after a day of light to moderate winds at Long Beach Yacht Club in California, USA.
Just two weeks ago William Tiller
won the Grade 3 Butler Cup on the same outer harbour waters in the same Catalina 37s.
After two fairly uneventful flights the tempo picked up in the third when Ferrarese won a feisty match against Bob Hughes (USA) whose #326 ranking and 2-3 record do not reflect his experience and success. He won the Canada Cup in 2007 but has spent more time fleet racing his Melges 32 than going for match racing ranking points.
Hughes and Simone Ferrarese
tangled at the windward mark on the first lap of their match. Ferrarese waved his protest flag when he thought Hughes failed to allow him enough, and the on-water umpires agreed.
Hughes, packing a penalty for a pre-start foul, was required to do an immediate turn, and when he failed to do that the black flag was waved for immediate DSQ.
"We couldn't get the jib down to do the penalty,"
Hughes said. "The black flag I deserved. It was a close race. [Ferrarese] did a good job of sailing his boat."
Also in the early hunt is Chris Nesbitt
, the 23-year-old hope from Balboa Yacht Club down the coast who suffered an aggravating black flag loss to Tiller in the Butler Cup. They'll meet again Friday.
Nesbitt hinted that the loss still gnaws at him but said his crew remains "a good group of guys. They've all let it go."
Tiller said, "Hopefully, we have a bit of an edge on him, but there's still a lot of racing to go. We had a good day. We just don't want to meddle with the umpires too much."
The eight racers are sailing one round robin. Everyone advances to the best-of-three quarterfinals following the round robin on Friday, then the final four will compete in the semifinals and finals Saturday to determine which one advances into the 47th Congressional Cup from 22-26 March.
The spectator-friendly competition is running directly off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in east Long Beach. Daily starting times will be determined by weather conditions.
1. Simone Ferrarese
1. William Tiller
3. Chris Nesbitt
3. David Chapman
5. Bob Hughes (USA) 2-3
6. Dustin Durant
6. John Horsch
8. Michael Komar