Gavin Brady has a four-match lead on Australia's James Spithill and Italy's Paulo Cian

With 8 of 18 flights remaining in the double round robin in the Congressional Cup at Long Beach, Gavin Brady has a four-match lead on Australia’s James Spithill and Italy’s Paulo Cian who are tied for second at 6-4 despite winning only two of five races each.

“It was a really bad day for us,” Spithill said. “I started badly, had a couple of calls go against us. I’m pretty surprised to still be in there.”

Cian, who had never sailed one of the sturdy Catalina 37s until this week, said, “Yesterday the surprise factor was with us. Today it was very tough.”

The competition in the breakwater-protected Long Beach outer harbour started on time at 1130 am in a 6-knot southerly wind, and soon the breeze shifted to south-west and built to 12 knots, allowing the boats to power through the whitecaps in their element.

As the day progressed, one by one Brady’s rivals took their best shots at him – first Denmark’s Jesper Radich, then an admittedly rusty America’s Cup campaigner, Ken Read, followed by Spithill, Cian and finally France’s Luc Pillot. Read and Spithill came closest, losing by 27 and 29 seconds, which isn’t really close at this level of the game.

Radich challenged Brady at the outset by drawing him into a foul before their start, but in the closing moments of the countdown Brady caught Radich trapped in a windward/leeward dial-up below the line to cancel out his obligation to do a penalty turn.

Later, Spithill and Brady split to opposite sides of the course after the start. When they met at the windward mark minutes later Brady crossed a boat length ahead on port tack. When Spithill tried to follow his gybe-set downwind he suddenly found himself face to face with Britain’s Chris Law, who was coming upwind in a different match. Spithill had to swerve off course to avoid a collision.

Can Brady’s Team Beau Geste be stopped? Spithill spoke for the other contenders when he said, “Everything’s going their way and they’re sailing very well, but there’s still a lot of sailing to go. We’re concentrating on getting into the semi-finals and not really thinking about Gavin or anybody.”

The most serious threat to Brady’s streak came in the last match when Pillot protested the race committee, seeking redress, after a close call with a press boat two minutes before the start. As the boats returned to the harbour, Brady and Pillot were summoned to the committee boat for a hearing with the umpires.

Chief umpire John Doerr of Great Britain said Pillot’s request for redress was denied, explaining that “there were no grounds for redress. The incident did not have an effect on the outcome of the race.”


Flight 6

Scott Dickson, Long Beach, d. James Spithill, Australia, 40 seconds

Ken Read, Newport, R.I., d. Chris Law, Great Britain, 0:40

Magnus Holmberg, Sweden, d. Paulo Cian, Italy, 0:11

Gavin Brady, New Zealand, d. Jesper Radich, Denmark, 0:44

Jes Gram-Hansen, Denmark, d. Luc Pillot, France, 0:09

Flight 7

Cian d. Radich, 0:07

Gram-Hansen d. Dickson, 0:45

Law d. Pillot, 1:13

Spithill d. Holmberg, 0:19

Brady d. Read, 0:27

Flight 8

Law d. Dickson, 0:17

Holmberg d. Pillot, 0:22

Brady d. Spithill, 0:28

Gram Hansen d. Cian, 0:12

Read d. Radich, 0:36

Flight 9

Pillot d. Dickson, 0:20

Spithill d. Law, 0:22

Read d. Holmberg, 0:55

Brady d. Cian, 0:55

Radich d. Gram-Hansen, 0:12

Flight 10

Brady d. Pillot, 0:30

Law d. Gram-Hansen, 1:00

Cian d. Read, 0:16

Radich d. Spithill, 0:02

Dickson d. Holmberg, 0:25

Standings (after 10 of 18 flights)

1. Brady, 10-0

2. tie between Cian and Spithill, 6-4

4. tie between Gram-Hansen and Holmberg, 5-5

6. tie among Law, Read, Radich and Dickson, 4-6

10. Pillot, 2-8