Berntsson Wins Ficker Cup
Published on April 3rd, 2016
Long Beach, CA (April 3, 2016) – Johnie Berntsson (SWE) defeated Scott Dickson (USA) to win the Ficker Cup. By reaching the Finals, both teams advance to the Congressional Cup which begins April 6.
Umpire Stephen Van Dyck – who called winning tactics for America’s Cup skipper Bill Ficker – called it some of the most impressive Ficker Cup Presented by Porsche racing he’s seen.
“This is an extremely high level of competition; as great as I’ve seen in this event,” said the America’s Cup Hall of Famer. As racers jockeyed for the esteemed trophy into the late afternoon, Van Dyck added, “It’s very impressive, the standards the competitors have risen to.”
Spectators agreed: it was some of the most thrilling, and unpredictable racing, in the 16 year history of the Grade Two regatta. In the end, Johnie Berntsson slid by Scott Dickson in a final, tenuous match – where leads changed at every mark – to win the Ficker Cup Presented by Porsche trophy, and a berth in the Congressional Cup, April 6 to 10.
“It’s a very good preview of what’s to come next week,” conceded Dickson, who as first runner up also earns a spot in the Congressional Cup. “We knew Johnie would be hard to beat, but it’s been a wonderful weekend of racing, with great weather, competition, and a great job by the Race Committee.”
While Berntsson may be the first Congressional Cup winner (2009) to come back through the ranks to earn a berth via the Ficker Cup Presented by Porsche, Dickson may also be approaching a record-breaker, as he enters the Congressional Cup for the 16th time.
“We always know, whatever teams come out of the Ficker Cup Presented by Porsche, have battled hard, and are well-prepared for Congressional Cup,” Dickson said, pleased with his team’s results, and looking forward to next week.
Sunday’s weather and competition was brisk from the get-go. As winner of the round robins, Berntsson had elected to race Matthew Jerwood: at 23, already ranked 6th in the world.
But David Storrs was wielding a secret weapon: Taylor Canfield and his USOne Sailing Team were crewing for the Pequot Yacht Club skipper; so Berntsson left Storrs to square off against Dickson. Almost immediately Storrs lured Dickson into a foul. Dickson quickly followed suit, evening the score. It would set the tone for the day’s races, a series of contentious battles beneath hazy California skies with breezes that built to the mid-teens, before shifting and waning in the final flights.
It was a day of close finishes, and close calls – with boats sparring so close to the 490-meter pier, spectators were on their tippy toes, reaching out to touch the sails. The breath-taking starts were made even more exciting by Peter Holz – eliminated from Ficker Cup Presented by Porsche in the round robins – who provided an enthusiastic and animated commentary alongside emcee Steve Steiner.
In the semi-finals Berntsson’ prowess on the helm dispatched Jerwood 3-1; but Dickson and Storrs would go a full five matches before Dickson triumphed at last.
A radical wind shift saw the postponement of the finals, and a reduction to ‘best of three’ races. Berntsson took the first, Dickson the second, but as the seabreeze yielded to the offshore puffs, it became “a mintefield,” said Dickson. “Conditions were anything but predictable,” he added, as he and Berntsson traded leads ‘til the final downwind leg,;when fate handed the win to Berntsson.
“It took a while for us to get into the time zone and race mode and this configuration,” Berntsson said, referring to the custom designed fleet of Catalina 37 sloops. “I was struggling a bit with my starts, and not happy with getting off the line.”
“Our gaol is to win the Congressional Cup,” he added, admitting it will be “tough” – but feeling his Swedish Team FLUX has an edge, with three days of racing under their belt.
At the prize giving at Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC), a dapper Bill Ficker – wearing his Crimson Blazer from his 1974 Congressional Cup win victory – greeted the sailors and presented his namesake trophy. The Ficker Cup Presented by Porsche was established by LBYC in 1980 to honor Bill Ficker, winning skipper of the 1970 America’s Cup and Star boat champion. It is a highly regarded World Sailing Grade Two and World Match Racing Tour event.
Berntsson and Dickson will go on to compete in the 52nd Congressional Cup regatta, to be held here April 6 to 10.
Final Results: Ficker Cup Presented by Porsche
1. Johnie Berntsson SWE
2. Scott Dickson USA
3. David Storrs USA
4. Matthew Jerwood AUS
5. Evan Walker AUS
6. Dustin Durant USA
7. Steve Natvig USA
8. Peter Holz USA
ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL CUP
The Congressional Cup features five days of yacht racing at its finest, with the top World Sailing-ranked skippers vying for the esteemed Crimson Blazer – an honor bestowed to sailing icons like Dennis Conner, Dean Barker, Ken Read, Ted Turner, Taylor Canfield and more. Founded in 1965 and pioneering the concept of on-the-water umpiring, The Congressional Cup is regarded as the ‘granddaddy of match racing’ and is part of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT). This intense round-the-world circuit kicked off early March in Fremantle, Australia, and concludes in July in Marstrand, Sweden; where one lucky sailor will earn a sizeable purse and bragging rights – as the number one skipper at the pinnacle of the sailing game. http://www.thecongressionalcup.com/
ABOUT THE FICKER CUP PRESENTED BY PORSCHE
The Ficker Cup Presented by Porsche is a highly regarded World Sailing Grade Two and WMRT event, established by LBYC in 1980 to honor Bill Ficker, winning skipper of the 1970 America’s Cup and Star boat champion. Etched on the trophy are the names of sailing greats like John Kostecki, Scott Dickson and Sally Barkow; plus Terry Hutchinson and Simone Ferrarese – both of whom went on to win the Congressional Cup in subsequent years.
Report by Betsy Crowfoot.