Gavin Brady is having the kind of week at the ISAF Grade 1 39th Congressional Cup that Tiger Woods would like to have again at the Masters golf tournament starting Thursday on the other side of the country.
In fact, after Wednesday's racing when the 29-year-old New Zealander extended his record to 10-0, struggling rivals wished him luck in Saturday's semifinals---as if he were already a lock---while they went to Las Vegas to play golf and gamble.
"I hope my crew didn't hear that,"
Brady said. "I have enough trouble keeping them off [the golf course]."
With 8 of 18 flights remaining in the double round robin, Brady has a four-match lead on Australia's James Spithill and Italy's Paulo Cian, who were surprised to learn they were still tied for second at 6-4 despite winning only two of five races each Wednesday.
"It was a really bad day for us,"
Spithill said. "I started badly, had a couple of calls go against us. I'm pretty surprised to still be in there."
Cian, who had never sailed one of the sturdy Catalina 37s until this week, said, "Yesterday the surprise factor was with us. Today it was very tough."
The competition in the breakwater-protected Long Beach outer harbor started on time at 11:30 a.m. in a 6-knot southerly wind, and soon the breeze shifted to southwest and built to 12 knots, allowing the boats to power through the whitecaps in their element.
There were no collisions reported and fewer protest flags waved than the first day, but the action wasn't without incident. Jon Ziskind, a trimmer on Scott Dickson's boat, slipped overboard near Belmont Pier during pre-start maneuvering. He was recovered safely, though soggy.
As the day progressed, one by one Brady's rivals took their best shots at him---first Denmark's Jesper Radich, then an admittedly rusty America's Cup campaigner, Ken Read, followed by Spithill, Cian and finally France's Luc Pillot. Read and Spithill came closest, losing by 27 and 29 seconds, which isn't really close at this level of the game.
Radich challenged Brady at the outset by drawing him into a foul before their start, but in the closing moments of the countdown Brady caught Radich trapped in a windward-leeward dial-up below the line to cancel out his obligation to do a penalty turn.
Later, Spithill and Brady split to opposite sides of the course after the start. When they met at the windward mark minutes later Brady crossed a boat length ahead on port tack. When Spithill tried to follow his jibe-set downwind he suddenly found himself face to face with Britain's Chris Law, who was coming upwind in a different match. Spithill had to swerve off course to avoid a collision.
Can Brady's Team Beau Geste be stopped?
Spithill spoke for the other contenders when he said, "Everything's going their way and they're sailing very well, but there's still a lot of sailing to go. We're concentrating on getting into the semifinals and not really thinking about Gavin or anybody."
The most serious threat to Brady's streak came in the last match when Pillot protested the race committee, seeking redress, after a close call with a press boat two minutes before the start. As the boats returned to the harbor, Brady and Pillot were summoned to the committee boat for a hearing with the umpires.
Chief umpire John Doerr of Great Britain said Pillot's request for redress was denied, explaining that "there were no grounds for redress. The incident did not have an effect on the outcome of the race."
Gavin Brady is sailing with tactician - Chris Larson, trimmer - John Gunderson, main trimmer - James Baxter, Pit - Sean Clakson, bow - Brad Webb, and mast - Theresa DiRocco.
The event is being broadcast live on local 810 AM radio each day. The broadcasts are fed simultaneously to Long Beach City College's Web site, klbc.org
, which is available to anyone with access to the Internet.
The Congressional Cup again is being sailed on the Catalina 37 sloops built for the event. The format is a double round robin followed by best-of-three semifinals and finals, concluding Saturday. A short windward-leeward race course is set adjacent to Belmont Pier, where spectators are welcome.
Scott Dickson, Long Beach, d. James Spithill, Australia, 40 seconds.
Ken Read, Newport, R.I., d. Chris Law, Great Britain, 0:40.
Magnus Holmberg, Sweden, d. Paulo Cian, Italy, 0:11.
Gavin Brady, New Zealand, d. Jesper Radich, Denmark, 0:44.
Jes Gram-Hansen, Denmark, d. Luc Pillot, France, 0:09.
Cian d. Radich, 0:07.
Gram-Hansen d. Dickson, 0:45.
Law d. Pillot, 1:13.
Spithill d. Holmberg, 0:19.
Brady d. Read, 0:27.
Law d. Dickson, 0:17.
Holmberg d. Pillot, 0:22.
Brady d. Spithill, 0:28.
Gram Hansen d. Cian, 0:12.
Read d. Radich, 0:36.
Pillot d. Dickson, 0:20.
Spithill d. Law, 0:22.
Read d. Holmberg, 0:55.
Brady d. Cian, 0:55.
Radich d. Gram-Hansen, 0:12.
Brady d. Pillot, 0:30.
Law d. Gram-Hansen, 1:00.
Cian d. Read, 0:16.
Radich d. Spithill, 0:02.
Dickson d. Holmberg, 0:25.
Standings (after 10 of 18 flights):
1. Brady, 10-0;
2. 2. tie between Cian and Spithill, 6-4;
3. 4. tie between Gram-Hansen and Holmberg, 5-5;
4. 6. tie among Law, Read, Radich and Dickson, 4-6;
5. 10. Pillot, 2-8.