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15 February 2008, 10:56 am
BRADY Aims For 4th Con Cup Victory
Gavin BRADY models his third Crimson Blazer in 2006
Gavin BRADY models his third Crimson Blazer in 2006

Congressional Cup 2008
Long Beach, California, USA

As a globetrotting professional racing sailor, Gavin BRADY doesn't spend much time in any one place, but spring will usually find him in Long Beach.
As usual, that places him in the line up for the Long Beach Yacht Club's 44th Congressional Cup, from 29 April-3 May, duking it out with world-class peers in America's only ISAF Grade 1 match racing regatta. Gavin BRADY, a New Zealand native who has lived in Annapolis, since 1988, has won the Congressional Cup three times - most recently in 2006 - and is poised to equal Rod DAVIS (NZL) and Peter HOLMBERG (ISV) with his fourth victory.

Another former winner in the lineup is Dave PERRY (USA), who won in 1983 and 1984 and has successfully resurrected his match racing skills in recent years.

BRADY's first win came in 1996 when he was 23 and relatively unknown on the world scene, followed by his second in 1997.

"This yacht club gave me a break when I was young, so this is a really special event for me," he said.

This year's field features three of the world's top ten match racers and six of the top 20, as rated by the ISAF World Match Race Rankings. BRADY isn't in either group because other commitments, including last year's America's Cup with BMW ORACLE, allowed him time for only five match racing events over the past two years.

But he is likely to be a factor. Besides his three wins in the Congressional Cup, he has been in the semi-finals six times and the finals five times.

His competition is led by Russia's world #7 Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV, skipper of the "Lord of the Sail" team from Ekaterinburg who last year won ten of 18 matches to equal the third-best record. NEUGODNIKOV missed the sailoffs on a tiebreaker but scored some consolation by winning the last day's fleet race for non-championship qualifiers.

Others are Pierre-Antoine MORVAN, France, #8; Damien IEHL, France, #10; Philippe PRESTI, France, #14; Andrew ARBUZOV, Russia, #15; Johnie BERNTSSON, Sweden, #19; Simon MINOPRIO, New Zealand, #26; PERRY, USA, #44; BRADY and Scott DICKSON, also a New Zealand native but a Long Beach resident who again qualified by winning last fall's Ficker Cup.

DICKSON, like BRADY, lacks a significant ranking after sailing in a limited number of events (skippers in the Rankings can count up to eight events in their points total). For example, Ed BAIRD (USA), a past Con Cup winner, is ranked only 108th, after he spent most of his time last year driving Alinghi to victory in the America's Cup.

The ten six-man crews will sail Catalina 37s owned by the Long Beach Sailing Foundation, rotating boats daily. They'll race a double round-robin of match racing, followed by the fleet race and best-of-three championship sailoffs Saturday 15 April.

Since the Congressional Cup was launched in 1965 by a Deed of Gift recorded in the US Congress, other world-renowned sailors such as Ted TURNER (USA), Dennis CONNER (USA), DAVIS, Peter GILMOUR (AUS), HOLMBERG, Dean BARKER (NZL), Ken READ (USA) and Chris DICKSON (NZL) have won the Crimson Blazer emblematic of victory in the prestigious event.

A high level of organization has been maintained over the years by a volunteer force of some 300 club members and their families.

The Long Beach Yacht Club, founded in 1929, has from its beginning sought to encourage future generations of sailors and power boaters. Located on a promontory of Alamitos Bay in the Long Beach Marina, it has a dynamic junior sailing programme whose members compete in various youth regattas. There is also a junior swim team and an enthusiastic big game fishing program.

Congressional Cup - www.lbyc.org/concup/
Rich Roberts
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