LBYC names Ficker Cup skippers

LONG BEACH — Long Beach Yacht Club has announced the eight skippers who will compete in the 36th running of the Ficker Cup match racing regatta, May 8 to 10.

The roster leads off with New Zealand’s Chris Steele (ranked no. 11 by the International Sailing Federation – ISAF), followed by rivals hailing from all corners of the U.S.: Chris Poole (25), David Storrs (29), Peter Holz (75), Dustin Durant (84), Christophe Killian (91), Charles Lalumiere (111) and Dave Hood (302).

Match racing pits teams on identical boats in a series of one-on-one races, which provokes close, aggressive competition. Collisions are not rare, and on-the-water umpires serve up ‘instant justice’ with the wave of a flag. The three-day event promises plenty of fierce action, as competitors vie not only for the Ficker Cup trophy, but also for two spots in the Congressional Cup regatta, which begins May 13.

A series of double round robin matches will begin Friday, May 8, in the waters off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Competitors will progress into semi-finals and finals May 10 to decide who will advance to the Congressional Cup.

The Ficker Cup is a benchmark in its own right. This prestigious Grade Two regatta was established by Long Beach YC in 1980 to honor Bill Ficker, winning skipper of the 1970 America’s Cup, and world class Star boat champion.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to compete in,” Steele said. “I’ve raced against some of the guys on the entry list before, and the competition is good, but with the guys we’ve got on board, I am more than comfortable we’ve got a good chance.”

Their goal, he said, is to “win the event,” and move on to the Congressional Cup.

The back-to-back contests offer spectating opportunities for sailors and novices alike, starting around 11:30 a.m. each day at Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

The following week (May 13 to 17), Long Beach YC will dial it up another notch, when the world’s top-ranked sailors come to Long Beach to compete in the Congressional Cup regatta, the season opener for the 2015-16 World Match Racing Tour. The pier will take on a festival atmosphere, with spectator seating, live commentary, special guests, vendors and superb viewing. Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier is located at 5411 E. Ocean Blvd., just east of downtown Long Beach.

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