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Australian Harry Price leads Ficker Cup at end of first day’s competition

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 known as the Gateway to the America’s Cup.

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 Saturday and Sunday March 30 and 31at the Congressional Cup stadium, a designated race course adjacent the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Spectators are invited to watch the action, for free, beginning at 11:30AM daily.

Conditions Saturday are predicted to be light; Sunday promises to be hot, hot, hot as the weather and action heat up, in the final struggle for Ficker Cup.

Follow Ficker Cup online at www.lbyc.org and on Facebook @CongressionalCup
Follow Congressional Cup at www.thecongressionalcup.com and on Facebook @CongressionalCup, where all races will be live-streamed April 5 through 7.

Coverage will include skipper interviews, results and daily highlights, press conferences and special events. For broadcast schedules and more information visit www.thecongressionalcup.com.

The article above was released by Long Beach Yacht Club.