Australian Harry Price, the 23-year-old No. 3 Ranked Match Racer won the Butler Cup, a two-day Grade 4 Match Racing Event in which so many highly-experienced sailors and rated match racers participated, competitors were wondering if they were really competing in a Grade 1 event.
Representing Down Under Racing of Australia, Price, a Ficker and Congressional Cup veteran, whose participation made it an international event, sailed with a six-man crew, one whom just arrived from Australia yesterday. He went into Sunday’s races with seven points, and a single loss.
At the top of the day, Price said the goal was not only to win but to put what they learned yesterday into practice. Similar conditions would provide a good platform to build upon and score more wins, he said. Otherwise, the No. 3 ranked World Series sailor said he and the team were looking to experience new racing challenges and hopefully enjoy a nice, fun day on the water.
“It was a really fun day, nice weather and good competitions, Price said. “We implemented and worked on processes, successfully checked some boxes and are looking to do the same next weekend.”
Price and crew, that included Patrick Voss, Taylor Balough, George Anyou, Connor Mashlan, and Niall Morrow finished with a record of 12-2.
Jeffrey Petersen, of Balboa Yacht Club, and junior at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, took a penalty at the start of the match against Price, resulting in his first loss of the day. A negative point for damage in the Price start scuffle and two subsequent losses landed the teenager in a tie for third, then lost the tie-breaker leaving yesterday’s leader in fourth place.
“We’re disappointed, but we sailed well; in very close-call races, perhaps leaving a little on the water,” Petersen said. “But I learned so much and am thankful to have had this fantastic opportunity and that my crew is keen to race with me.”
And what a team! Petersen has been friends with tactician Will Boulden, the No. 8th ranked World Series skipper since meeting years ago at a Governor’s Cup event. Boulden, who has won four Grade-2 events, has already secured a place in LBYC’s Congressional Cup that runs April 3 through 7. Petersen crewmembers Justin Wong and Josh Wijohn will crew for Boulden in that event.
LBYC’s Dave Hood had a comeback day logging six straight wins which landed his DH3 Team in second place. Hood’s crew list, that reads like a who’s who of sailing, included three former Congressional Cup skippers; Keith Swinton of Australia, LBYC’s Scotty Dickson, and Joachim Aschenbrenner of Denmark.
The LBYC Staff Commodore said, “It was great racing today, and we got better all day; better in communication and better in terms of execution.” He offered his congratulations to the all of the competitors and hoped to see more people on the pier for Ficker Cup next week along with veteran Congressional Cup crew, Ben Wheatley, Erick Berzins, Ted Hackney, and Steve Natvig.
Chris Poole, sailing for Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club of Oyster Bay, New York moved up a rung into third place.
Poole put together his team during his flight here earlier in the week. His Ficker Cup crew arrives later this week. “Long Beach Yacht Club always delivers Champaign conditions, said the 30-year-old Ficker Cup veteran who was pleased that his pick-up crew did so well.
Hood and Chris Nesbitt will also race next weekend in Ficker Cup. The top two skippers from that event will qualify to compete in this year’s Congressional Cup.
Thanks to this diverse field, race officials are petitioning match racing authorities to upgrade the event from a Grade 4 to a Grade 3 level in consideration of the high degree of competition, and those who traveled significant distances. The upgrade will increase points each skipper earns toward their international rankings.
“It was an honor and a pleasure to chair this prestigious event that drew some of the best racers from around the world, said Lisa Meier, Butler Cup Chairman. “The LBYC volunteers, from the race committee to the umpires and all the organizers, are second to none,” she said. With two more weeks of fabulous racing, she hoped that sailing enthusiasts will come out to the Belmont Veteran’s Memorial Pier and join us for more exceptional racing.
The Butler Cup and the trophy are tributes to Catalina Yachts founder Frank Butler who designed, built and donated the 11 Catalina 37s for the Long Beach Sailing Foundation for the purpose of developing outstanding match racing in Southern California.
The event is now a sanctioned World Sailing Match Race and helps grow the sport, welcoming young talent like Petersen and Wood, while enabling emerging new skippers to win points and move on to higher grade regattas, like the 2020 California Dreamin’ Series, to which Price now ironically has an invitation to, the Ficker Cup and the prestigious Congressional Cup.