Chris Dickson leads Congressional Cup 5-0

It was like old times with everybody chasing Chris Dickson after opening day of the 41st Congressional Cup in Long Beach yesterday.

Fourteen years after he won the granddaddy event of match racing for the second time, he returned with a crew from the BMW Oracle America’s Cup team he leads to sweep five races for a narrow lead over a real granddaddy, England’s Chris Law, 52, and France’s Mathieu Richard, each 4-1.

As for Russell Coutts, he’s tied with Dean Barker, his successor at Emirates Team New Zealand, at 3-2. His day started slowly when he missed the skippers’ meeting and then launched the completion in a slugfest with Law in which he drew four penalties but was still in the fight to the finish.

It was a memorable race but a forgettable start for the three-time America’s Cup winner who said at the evening press conference, to all-round laughter, “I can’t remember anything about the day.”

It ended with a loss to Dickson’s younger brother Scott, who caught a puff in the dying breeze to slip past and win handily.

“It’s a tricky place to sail,” said Coutts, who won an Olympic gold medal in the Finn class on these waters in 1984.

The wind was a soft but satisfactory 8-11 knots for the first four rounds of 18 in the double round robin schedule. Prospects were for more of the same today, when Coutts will meet Dickson, Barker, Richard and winless Chris Larson to wrap up the first round.

Chris Dickson, 42, raised the curtain with a comfortable win against Scott, 32, then defeated France’s Philippe Presti, Richard, Larson and Barker?the latter showing disappointment in attributing his 50-second loss to “brain fade.” Only the race against Richard, who is ranked No 4 in the world by ISAF, was close.


ROUND 1 – Chris Dickson (n/a), Golden Gate YC, San Francisco, def. Scott Dickson, Long Beach YC, no time; Dean Barker, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, def. Chris Larson, Annapolis YC, 25 seconds; Chris Law (No. 51), Royal Cape YC, South Africa, def. Russell Coutts, Aarhus Sejlklub, Denmark, 19 seconds; Mathieu Richard, APCC-Voile Sportive, France, def. Lars Nordbjerg, Skovshoved Sejlklub, Denmark, 43 seconds; Staffan Lindberg (No. 12), Aaland Islands YC, Finland, def. Philippe Presti (No. 6), Union Nationale pour la Course au Large, France, no time.

ROUND 2 – S. Dickson d. Larson, 0:34; Richard d. Barker, 0:13; Law d. Nordbjerg, 0:40; C. Dickson d. Presti, 0:36; Coutts d. Lindberg, 0:28.

ROUND 3 – C. Dickson d. Richard, 0:09; Barker d. S. Dickson, 0:11; Law d. Presti, 0:42; Lindberg d. Larson, 0:10; Coutts d. Nordbjerg, 0:54.

ROUND 4 – C. Dickson d. Larson, 0:18; Richard d. S. Dickson, 0:29; Nordbjerg d. Lindberg, 0:10; Barker d. Law, 0:34 Coutts d. Presti 0:21.

ROUND 5 – C. Dickson d. Barker, 0:50; Richard d. Larson, 0:53; Law d. Lindberg, 0:53; S. Dickson d. Coutts, no time; Presti d. Nordbjerg, 0:11.

Standings (after 5 of 18 rounds) – 1. C. Dickson, 5-0; 2. tie between Law and Richard, 4-1; 4. tie between Barker and Coutts, 3-2; 6. tie between Lindberg and S. Dickson, 2-3, 8. tie between Nordbjerg and Presti, 1-4; 10. Larson, 0-5.