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Berntsson, Brady a race short but 1-2 in Con Cup

A jolt of intensity, a runaway mark and some unsettled business in the jury room left the 46th Congressional Cup in overnight anxiety after competition lurched through Day 2 Wednesday.

Johnie Berntsson, the defending champion from Sweden, remained unbeaten at 10-0 even though 11 of the 18 round-robin flights had been sailed. Whether he and Italy’s Francesco Bruni will have to resail Wednesday’s match, which Berntsson thinks he won legitimately, was to be determined at a special hearing before Thursday’s racing.

Four-time winner Gavin Brady, in second place at 9-1, will have to resail his match against France’s Damien Iehl, which he didn’t finish.

The problem developed when, in brisk breeze building from 3 to 12 knots through the afternoon, broke the windward mark loose from its ground tackle in the ninth flight of racing. The yellow inflatable drifted downwind as the two matches approached, led by Berntsson over Bruni. The mark was chased down by the attending mark boat, which quickly pulled it onboard and held its position to serve as the new mark—an acceptable practice in such situations.

Berntsson and Bruni then rounded the mark boat, but Brady and Iehl were waved off the course by an on-water umpire signaling with a hand across his throat that their race was over because of the displaced mark.

A hearing Wednesday night ruled that they would try again Thursday before the scheduled races commence, but Berntsson and Bruni remained unsettled, even though Berntsson finished the race.

After returning to the dock, Berntsson said of the incident, “It didn’t affect the result. Bruni [already] had a penalty and we had a good lead.”

Bruni, asked at the evening’s press conference, if he’d like a resail, said, “Of course, I’d be happy.”

Otherwise, he’ll stand with 6 wins and 5 losses starting the day, with Berntsson at 11-0. Brady is currently 9-1 and Iehl 5-5.

Amid all the uproar, Bill Hardesty, a Con Cup rookie skipper from San Diego, quietly climbed into third place Wednesday by winning five of his six races, including a battle with Evgeniy Neugodnikov marked by a couple of collisions that cost the Russian disqualifying penalties.

“We’re feeling more confident,” Hardesty said, “and I’m feeling better about driving with a wheel.”

Other smaller boats he races successfully, such as winning Etchells world championship in 2008 and the Rolex U.S. Prince of Wales Bowl match racing title in 2009, are steered with tillers, not wheels.

Sally Barkow, the event’s first woman skipper since 1999, seized her first win, beating still winless Simone Ferrarese of Italy, but she also fought to some close finishes, including a one-second loss to Dave Perry.

Racing will continue through Saturday, starting at 11:30 each day, conditions permitting. Each boat will race every other boat twice in a double round robin. The top four will advance to best-of-three semifinals and finals Saturday. The non-qualifiers will run a fleet race.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 25th, 2010 at 7:47 am and is filed under Main Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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