Taylor Canfield (ISV) won all five of his races on Friday to leap into first place and all but secure a place in the semifinals of Stage Two of the Congressional Cup.
Four more flights will be sailed to determine the four sailors who will advance to Sunday's sailoffs and Canfield looks comfortable with 11 wins in 14 races, it isn't yet a mathematical certainty. "We want to win the round-robins and get to pick our opponent for the semis
." said the 25 year old US Virgin Islander.
Scott Dickson, Long Beach's transplanted New Zealander who has sailed the Catalina 37s for half his life, won a start against Canfield and led the whole two laps but, with the opponent only two boat lengths behind, couldn't build enough of a lead to execute a penalty turn at the finish and take the win.
World #2 Ian Williams (GBR), slipped a bit with a 3-2 score on Friday to stand 10-4 overall, while Francesco Bruni (ITA) is at 9-5. Mathieu Richard (FRA) and Australia's Keith Swinton are both at 8-6 so one of the five must fall. 2009 winner Johnie Berntsson of Sweden has an outside chance at 6-8 and ha form for making dramatic comebacks.
Richard, the 2007 winner, suffered losses to Berntsson, Bruni and Dave Perry, but sailed himself back into the picture with a win over Williams in the first match of the last flight. With a narrow lead on the outside he took a chance on port tack at the first windward mark by sailing across Williams, who had the inside position for rounding and just made it.
Williams protested, but the on-water umpires waved a green flag - no foul - and as the Brit struggled to get around, Richard sailed away.
Richard said later of his opponent, "They're such a good team, we think there should be double points when you beat Williams.
The move Richard made to take the lead may be a part of the game plan brought to his team by his coach, Bertrand Pacé, a countryman, and former Congressional Cup and America's Cup competitor who has been working with the team since the 2013 Monsoon Cup and will see it through the Alpari World Match Racing Tour season.
"[Richard] came to me,
" Pacé said. "We're mainly working on tactics and pre-starts. There have been changes in match racing in the last few years. It's a bigger game now with more money
Williams wasn't bothered by the French presence, despite the setback that dropped him from the lead. He'll have another shot at Canfield, who beat him in the first round-robin Thursday.
"I feel we're better prepared every day,
" he said. "We just want to be in the top four.
Total prize money is $75,000, with $17,500 to the winner through $1,000 for last place.
Racing is scheduled to start daily at 11:30, conditions permitting.