LONG BEACH, CA 16 APRIL 2023 – In a stunning upset Chris Weis (USA) ousted Jeffrey Petersen (USA) in the Ficker Cup semifinals today, and advanced to the finals against Megan Thomson (NZL): going on to capture his first Ficker Cup title. Both Weis and Thomson will move on to the Congressional Cup Grade One match race championship which starts Tuesday April 18. Petersen defeated Nicole Breault (USA) in the petit finals, and took third and fourth respectively.
The Ficker Cup is a Grade Two match race hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club and part of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT). The event, which was held April 14 to 16, also serves as a qualifier for the 58th Congressional Cup.
In three days of racing in variable conditions – which ranged from blustery winds in the high teens, to this morning’s light breeze – eight teams from across the US, New Zealand and Ireland battled for Ficker Cup honors. Petersen had dominated the double round robin series, while Weis and Breault each finished 9-5. Thomson slipped in on a tiebreaker over Peter Holz (USA) and Pearson Potts (USA).
Progressing to the semifinals Petersen elected to pair up against Weis and won the first match, while Thomson beat Breault.
But Weis turned the tables on Petersen and captured the next three wins to move into the finals. Meanwhile Thomson and Breault traded points, but Thomson returned with victory in match four to eliminate Breault.
Earlier today Principal Race Officer Wendy Corzine had called for a brief postponement until the prevailing wind filled, and by the final and petit final stages the breeze had increased to an idyllic 8 to 10 knots.
Each duo – Weis vs. Thomson and Petersen vs. Breault – went one and one, leaving the decision to the last match of the day in this best-of-three series. Weis triumphed over Thomson, and Petersen over Breault.
Weis, who had earned his way into the Ficker Cup through the California Dreamin’ Series, said, “I’ve dreamed of going to the Congressional Cup for a while: to be honest I don’t think we expected to be here, but it’s all thanks to the guys,” acknowledging his team.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to sail your way into it and I thank Long Beach Yacht Club and everyone who enabled the pipeline to get us here,” Weis continued. “We had great competition out there, some really hard fought matches, but we really enjoyed it and I’m really happy.”
Weis and Thomson will round out the 10-team roster for Congressional Cup. Thomson, a 25-year-old Kiwi skipper, admitted she had a boost from her crew: Congressional Cup competitor Nick Egnot-Johnson and his WMRT Championship team. In an ironic twist, Thomson will go on to compete against Egnot-Johnson and his crew in the Congressional Cup next week: with a pick-up crew.
This was the first time in anyone’s memory that two female skippers had made the Ficker Cup semifinals. “I know it’s newsworthy to some, but I think one of the things that makes Megan and me good competitors in an open field is that we see each other as peers, peers of the guys, just as strong,” Breault noted. “I’ve raced against Megan before and I knew she could bring it as well as any other skipper or competitor in the regatta. When I see her, I just see another sailor.”
Breault – four-time US Women’s Match Race Champion, making her third appearance at Ficker Cup – applauded her team saying, “I feel really lucky; my team was great, always ready for action. We knew our main goal was to be players, and to make the semis. But we were realists too: it was our first time coming together as a team. The attitude on the boat was really positive; it’s been a fantastic experience and so much fun.”
Petersen had been undefeated in the Round Robins and as the frontrunner, elected to pair up against Weis in the semis. It would be his undoing. “At the end of the day this field is extremely competitive, so honestly it didn’t really matter who we picked,” Petersen explained. “You’ve got to beat them all. But we felt we had some mojo on Chris going into the semifinals yesterday, and we won the first race by a good margin. But today they came out and sailed an absolutely brilliant series, so all props to him and his team. We just didn’t have it in the tank today and they outsailed us.” He continued, “We’re holding our head high: it was a good event and we’re proud of how we sailed.” Petersen and team have been commended for acknowledging their rivals after each race. “It is our number one priority to be good sportsmen first,” Petersen said. “We want to be competitors and we want to fight hard, but I grew up with this quote from Paul Elvstrøm: ‘You haven’t won the race, if in winning you have lost the respect of your competitors.’”
Ficker Cup Chairman Tony Mansour concluded, “It’s been my tremendous honor to be the Chair of the 43rd annual Ficker Cup, but it’s the whole team and a huge number of volunteers who make these things work.” He recognized the Race Committee, umpires, staff, volunteers and competitors for their contributions to a successful event.
Today’s finals marked the end to a thrilling weekend for Long Beach: with the excitement of Ficker Cup yacht racing punctuated by the distant zoom of Indycars in the Acura Grand Prix and F/A-18 aircraft doing deafening flybys overhead. But now the spotlight turns to the Congressional Cup, which runs Tuesday April 18 through Saturday April 22. Spectators can watch the races live from Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier at 39th Place & E. Ocean in Long Beach, starting at roughly 11:30AM daily and online at http://www.thecongressionalcup.com.
Competitors include defending champion Ian Williams (GBR), Christopher Poole (USA), Jeppe Borch (DEN), Eric Monnin (SUI), Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL), Dave Hood (USA), Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and Harry Price (AUS) in addition to Weis and Thomson.
FICKER CUP FINAL PLACEMENT
|* World Sailing Match Race Rankings published by the governing body for the sport of sailing|
LONG BEACH YACHT CLUB
Established in 1929, Long Beach Yacht Club is recognized as a leading club in the international yachting community for its commitment to excellence in yacht racing and innovation in race management. Congressional Cup, the club’s signature event, now in its 58th year, is the preeminent match racing regatta in the United States and considered the Gateway to the America’s Cup. In addition to hosting numerous local, national, and international yachting events, the Club’s member families enjoy a year-round calendar of social, yachting, and junior activities at its beautiful clubhouse on the shore of Alamitos Bay.
WORLD MATCH RACING TOUR
Founded in 2000, the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) promotes the sport of match racing around the world and is the longest running global professional series in the sport of sailing. The WMRT is awarded ‘Special Event’ status by the sport’s world governing body – World Sailing – and the winner of the WMRT each year is crowned World Sailing Match Racing World Champion. Previous champions include Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR), Taylor Canfield (USA), Peter Gilmour (AUS), Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Peter Holmberg (ISV), Adam Minoprio (NZL), Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Bertrand Pace (FRA), Jesper Radich (DEN), Phil Robertson (NZL) and Ian Williams (GBR). Since 2000, the World Match Racing Tour and its events have awarded over USD23million in prize money to sailors which has helped to contribute to the career pathway of many of today’s professional sailors.
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