Eight ambitious young sailors from four countries will follow the rising tide of match racing into town for Long Beach Yacht Club's annual Ficker Cup Thursday through Saturday, competing for the sole remaining berth in next week's 47th Congressional Cup.
The list is headed by three competitors from afar: Simone Ferrarese
of Italy's Yacht Club Cortina d'Ampezzo, William Tiller
of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and David Chapman
of Australia's Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
Their five American hosts lying in wait are Chris Nesbitt
of Balboa Yacht Club, Bob Hughes of Michigan's Macatawa Bay Yacht, Dustin Durant
of host LBYC, John Horsch
of San Francisco's Treasure Island Sailing Center and Michael Komar
of the Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, N.Y.
Durant squeezed into the Ficker Cup by accumulating the most points in this month's California Dreamin' Series events in San Francisco, Long Beach and San Diego. He didn't win any of them but persistence paid off with successive fourth, third and second places, while the three winners, Shawn Bennett, Russ Silvestri and Nevin Snow skipped one or two events.
But Durant will see one familiar face this week in the form of Tiller who wonthe Butler Cup after previously securing an invitation to the Ficker Cup.
Durant said, "Going into the series everybody had a chance and I'm pretty happy with how we've done. We could have done better and had some bad luck, but the crew work has been really improving. This last weekend [at San Diego] the crew work was right on."
One problem for most of the skippers is to recruit more crew for the Ficker. They sailed with three or four in the San Francisco and San Diego events but will need six or seven on the Catalina 37s at Long Beach.
Durant, 23, said, "For Ficker Cup I'm having to get a crew together. I've got our core group of Tyler Wolk, Shane Young and myself but need three other guys. There are a couple of guys, one from Redondo Beach and the other from Dana Point, that are going to help us out and I've got a call out for the sixth person."
"Going into Ficker Cup, I know I can accomplish any kind of start that I want. I can handle either the pin end or the race committee end. When I start I know I can push a boat down and get the advantage. I can do that.
"We learned over the last few weeks that whenever we got an even start with the other boat we would end up leading at some point during that race. We just need to work on holding that lead during the race."
The eight racers will sail a Congressional Cup format of two round-robins, with the top four advancing to sailoffs on Saturday.
The Ficker Cup is named after Bill Ficker, who was skipper of the 12-Meter Intrepid that successfully defended the America's Cup against Australia's Gretel II in 1970. The noted Newport Beach architect also won the Star class world championship in 1958.
The 47th Congressional Cup will follow next Tuesday through Saturday. Several of the world's top-ranked sailors from eight countries and one U.S. territory will compete for the iconic prize in the United States' only Grade 1 match racing event.