Price leads Congressional Cup qualifier

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Long Beach, CA (March 29, 2019) – Harry Price (AUS) was undefeated on Day One of the Long Beach Yacht Club Ficker Cup, leading by a slim margin over Chris Poole (USA) who had two losses. Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) and David Hood (USA) tied for third.

Classic Long Beach conditions transpired for the first round robin of the three-day match race series, with southwesterly breezes of 11 knots shifting right and building to 16 knots throughout the afternoon. Unlike the traditional weather system though, the competition was anything but status quo.

Racers were aggressive right out of the gate. Chris Nesbitt (USA) extracted his first of two black flag penalties in the first flight – handing Aschenbrenner the first of four wins today.

Aschenbrenner, who just returned from an offshore race to Cabo San Lucas, has been focused on one-design fleet racing the past year, and admitted, “In the practice yesterday, I definitely realized I’ve got to get my brain back into the match racing, and into making the quick decisions. But match racing is where I started all of my sailing, so I’m excited to be back.”

Nesbitt shook off his “slow start,” adding, “It was unfortunate. Both incidents were definitely my fault. We were just a little over-eager and hope to do better tomorrow.” He finished the day on a high note, beating Pearson Potts, USA, in the final race of the day.

But it was Price who came out guns blazing. Primed from a win in last weekend’s LBYC Butler Cup – held in the same Catalina 37 keelboats as Ficker Cup – he fearlessly whipped his vessel, and his competitors. His father David ‘Pricey’ Price watched from the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, chuckling. “You’ve just got to laugh,” the 23-year-old’s father conceded; mindful of the damage deposit.

“For now, the Ficker Cup is where our focus is,” said Harry Price, “but our main goal is to qualify for Congressional Cup, which is the big one.” The top two finishers in the Ficker Cup receive an invitation to the April 3 to 7 Congressional Cup, a Grade 1 Match Race regatta.

Despite being the number three-ranked match race skipper in the world, Price acknowledged he’s been “struggling” in the Congressional Cup. “I’ve had a couple of average results the past two years. We’re hoping to get into it and do well this year.”

While all have their eyes on one of two final berths in the Congressional Cup, the field is equally driven for victory in the Ficker Cup: a prestigious title in its own right. The Ficker Cup was founded by LBYC in 1980 to honor Bill Ficker, the legendary yachtsman who helmed Intrepid to victory in the 1970 America’s Cup and won the Congressional Cup in 1974.

Racing continues tomorrow with light winds predicted. The schedule is from March 29 to 31. The 55th edition of the Congressional Cup Grade 1 competition is on April 3 to 7 in Long Beach, CA.

Source: sailingscuttlebutt / Betsy Crowfoot

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