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Congressional Cup: AmericaOne Finishes Con Cup In Fourth Place

Long Beach, CA, March 13, 1999-- It is the granddaddy of all modern match racing events -- the place where it all started. Top America's Cup crews and match racers going head-to-head in purpose-built matched Catalina 37s supplied by the host club. Long Beach Yacht Club has a 35-year tradition of outstanding hospitality and excellent racing. With three former winners, three America's Cup skippers, the current U.S. male and female Rolex Award winners and competitors from six countries, this was perhaps the strongest field ever. Paul Cayard reports on the final sailing day at Belmont Harbor:

Daily Report, March 13, 1999

The final day of the Congressional Cup was not good for AmericaOne. We won one and lost two and finished the regatta fourth. The winner was Peter Holmberg of the US Virgin Islands, followed by Marcus Weiser of Germany. Third was Francesco de Angelis of Italy, then AmericaOne. Fifth was Gavin Brady, the highest ranked sailor in the regatta at #2 in the world, followed by Luc Pillot of France at 6th.

Despite being cheered on by a group of about 30 of our most ardent supporters, the Founders, we did not sail well on Saturday. In particular, I made errors at the start of each of the first two matches -- first Weiser, then Holmberg. That sealed our fate in those races. Finally, against Pillot, I got us the side of the course that we wanted and we won pretty easily. So I was a bit disappointed with today's performance.

The wind was very light for the first two matches -- six knots then eight knots before it built to 12 knots for the last race. Everyone is getting so good at handling the boats that when the wind is light, the boat on the left at the pre-start never gets to the right and usually loses the start. This phenomenon was accentuated by the very smooth water inside the Long Beach breakwater.

One other "new" kink to the sport that was started this week was the habit of taking half a point away from a competitor if there was contact between the boats which resulted in damage that "could have been avoided". This is in addition to any racing penalties and the assessment of a fine levied against the competitor at fault, to pay for the repair itself. Even "minor" damage, like chips and scratches in gel coat, were given this extra penalty this week. It all started with some minor damage I caused in a race against Francesco de Angelis. Neither Francesco nor I protested but rather the jury initiated the protest against me. I found it quite unusual as the jury had failed to assess Gavin Brady a similar scoring penalty the day before when he hit me so hard that it took my stern push-pit right off the boat. I had to formally request consistent treatment for all competitors and thus all the 1/2 points that you will see in the scoring. It will be interesting to see if this interpretation of the rules is upheld at other regattas.

Our crew work was excellent throughout the regatta. We have definitely learned a few things from this event and we will move onto the Steinlager/Line7 next week in New Zealand. The purpose of all these races for us is to train in the discipline of match racing; to understand the rules, how to use them and how the umpires are calling them. To that end we received just one penalty this week, probably amongst the lowest in the fleet. We are also working on our communication and teamwork so that we work smoothly and cohesively. We will take this experience on to the America's Cup as one part of the complex package of ingredients needed to win the Cup.

Thanks for following our exploits this week and for supporting us. We will pick it up again from Auckland on March 22. Thanks!

Final positions and points:

1. Peter Holmberg, 15
2. Marcus Weiser, 14 1/2
3. Francesco De Angelis, 12
4. Paul Cayard, 11 1/2
5. Gavin Brady, 11
6. Luc Pillot, 10
7. Scotty Dickson, 6
8. Neville Whittey, 5 1/2
9. Dave Perry, 3
10. Betsy Allison, 0

Paul Cayard

For more about the Congressional Cup, go to the Long Beach YC web site. For more about AmericaOne at Congressional Cup, visit our Grand Prix Sailing News page.


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