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12 April 2006, 09:38 am
France In Front As The Med Comes To Long Beach
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Congressional Cup 2006
Long Beach, California, USA

With France's Mathieu RICHARD leading the way by winning all five of his matches, the five European competitors in the 42nd ISAF Grade 1 Congressional Cup presented by Acura won 18 of their 25 races in Long Beach, USA on Tuesday to claim the top three positions on the opening day.
Close behind RICHARD, number eight in the latest ISAF World Match Race Rankings, stand Great Britain's World number seven Ian WILLIAMS and Finland's World number 13 Staffan LINDBERG at 4-1.

Conversely, the three New Zealanders - four if you count local Scott DICKSON who has lived in Long Beach for a decade - were 7-13, an atypical mark for a small country that turns out champion match racers like sheepskin slippers.

On a 3-2 scoreline is Gavin BRADY (NZL), a Kiwi (although he resides in Annapolis, USA) who is a two-time Congressional Cup winner. He had an explanation for the day's results: the soft spring breeze was more to the Europeans' liking.

'These Mediterranean guys like it light,' BRADY said. 'We discussed that [when he was] at [BMW] ORACLE. One of our weaknesses as Kiwis is sailing in light air.'

RICHARD Happy

RICHARD, 29, loved it. He grew up sailing in light wind on a small lake at his home in Angers in western France.

'It's just a good feeling we have,' he said. 'It takes a long time to learn how to sail in light air.'

Maybe the Kiwis will try doing a haka wind dance before action resumes Wednesday.

Bobby FRAZIER, Principal Race Officer for the host Long Beach Yacht Club, was commended for clicking off the first five of the week's 18 rounds of a double round robin in nearly six hours of fluky winds. The customary sea breeze never showed, although it did increase to seven knots for the final round when BRADY beat WILLIAMS by 14 seconds in the last race of the day to hand the Brit his first loss and dampen a minor re-enactment of the Battle of Trafalgar against RICHARD on Wednesday.

Up Then Down Day For ANGEL

One of the event's rookies, Brian ANGEL (USA), 24, of nearby Redondo Beach, opened with a win against Sweden's Johnie BERNTSSON but then lost four in a row.

'The good thing that comes out of it is that we were fast,' ANGEL said. 'The big thing here is that you pay for everything you do wrong.'

LINDBERG, who owns a book distributing company in Finland, was strong off the starting line in all but one of his races - the one he lost to New Zealand's Simon MINOPRIO.

'One of my crew said, 'Get the boat off the line in front and we'll do the rest.' They did.'

With a $41,000 purse at stake, the six man crews sailed their Catalina 37s twice around a windward-leeward course set off the shoreline adjacent to the Belmont Pier, which has accommodations for spectators with expert race commentary at no charge.

There are live radio broadcasts on the local radio loop 810 AM and nightly video highlights at about 2100 Pacific Daylight Time - both accessible through the event website - www.lbyc.org/concup.

Acura, the luxury division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., has signed on for three more years as the presenting sponsor.

Congressional Cup Standings

1. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), APCC Voile Sportive, 5-0
2. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Team Musto, 4-1
2. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Alandia Sailing Team, 4-1
4. Gavin BRADY (NZL), Beau Geste Racing, 3-2
4. Simon MINOPRIO (NZL), 3-2
6. Johnie BERNTSSON (SWE), Semcon, 2-3
6. Peter WIBROE (DEN), 2-3
8. Brian ANGEL (USA), King Harbor Yacht Club, 1-4
8. Scott DICKSON (USA), Dickson Racing, 1-4
10. Cameron APPLETON (NZL), AREVA Challenge, 0-5

For all the news on the Congressional Cup CLICK HERE.

Rich ROBERTS (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Simon MINOPRIO's bowman, Chris BURGESS, handholds the spinnaker before dousing at the leeward mark:© Rich ROBERTS
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