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1 May 2008, 10:33 am
BRADY Leads Kiwi Contingent At Con Cup
Gavin BRADY collides with Pierre-Antoine MORVAN
Mon dieu! Pierre-Antoine MORVAN's crew responds to collision by Gavin BRADY, who was penalized

Congressional Cup 2008
Long Beach, California, USA

For a day that opened with what his opponent called "a big crash," Gavin BRADY's Wednesday turned out fine in the Long Beach Yacht Club's 44th ISAF Grade 1 Congressional Cup presented by Acura.
In fact, the three New Zealand sailors in the fleet have no complaints after the first of two round-robins leading to Saturday's championship sail-offs. Gavin BRADY, rolling with eight consecutive wins after an opening loss, leads the Kiwi clan at 8-1, followed by local resident Scott DICKSON (6-3) alone in second place and Simon MINOPRIO in a three-way tie for third at 5-4.

But BRADY's win against Pierre-Antoine MORVAN (FRA) wasn't pretty. In the pre-start sequence he rammed the Frenchman's transom and his spinnaker pole hooked onto the rival's luff line, leaving the boats temporarily inseparable. Brady drew a penalty, but built enough of a lead to erase it with a turn at the end of the race.

On board BRADY's boat this week is Jim SWARTZ (USA), who has hired him to sail his new STP 65, Moneypenny, now under construction. After the incident SWARTZ asked BRADY, "Is this what you do?"

Later, BRADY thought, "I think I just lost my job sailing Moneypenny."

It was a lively day with unusually strong southeast winds of 15 knots that shifted 60 degrees right and faded to 6 in mid-afternoon - the opposite pattern of normal Long Beach sea breezes.

DICKSON, the leader coming in at 5-0, lost three of his four races, although he was in position to win two of them. DICKSON saved a lead when MORVAN carried him a couple of hundred yards past the windward mark, but then lost it - and the race - when he momentarily lost control while leading MORVAN downwind.

Against Dave PERRY (USA), he seized the lead with a slick inside move at the leeward mark, but then his spinnaker halyard jammed, allowing PERRY to regain the lead and win the race.

PERRY, now tied for third, said, "It's a gift. I'm very rusty. My timing's off and I'm struggling."

Perhaps the best match-racing move of the day was Damien IEHL's (FRA) attack on a fellow Frenchman, Philippe PRESTI, at the windward mark. IEHL, on his way to a 3-1 day that put him back into contention at 4-5, was on starboard tack near the mark as PRESTI approached on port. With perfect timing, when PRESTI bore away to duck IEHL, the latter put his bow down to "hunt" PRESTI, who in trying to avoid a collision all but wrapped his boat around the orange inflatable buoy.

As IEHL went on his way, PRESTI was left with three fouls and an automatic black flag disqualification.

"I work on the execution," IEHL said.

"In a match you can't make one mistake," PRESTI said later, "and I made more."

Racing is near the end of Belmont Pier. There is free seating for spectators, with snacks available. Competition, starting at 12:00 daily, conditions permitting, continues into best-of-three semi-finals and finals Saturday scheduled around a fleet race for non-qualifiers.

Event sponsors are the Port of Long Beach, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Catalina Adventure Tours, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, West Marine, Long Beach Memorial Hospital, Union Bank of California, Newmeyer & Dillion attorneys at Law, Mount Gay Rum and Gladstone's Restaurant of Long Beach.

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Rich Roberts
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