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Competitor Commentary: 2006 Allianz Cup
Report by Brian Angel - Photos by Chuck Lantz

(November 1, 2006) Brian Angel is a twenty-something year old Californian, scrapping anyway he can for invites to match race events. 2006 has proved to be a busy year for his team, where they competed in match race events such as the Congressional Cup (CA), Knickerbocker Cup (NY), Prince of Wales (TX), Nations Cup (Ireland), Antibes Cup (France), Match Race Lugano (Switzerland), Bermuda Gold Cup, Allianz Cup, etc. The Scuttlebutt publisher met up with Brian in San Francisco last week, and here he submits his comments on the recently concluded Allianz Cup in San Francisco, CA.

I've had a few people ask my why this event was so special.

I first tell them how important it was for sailing, and for match racing in the US, to have a major media event on our turf. I tell them that this can be a launching pad for other match racing events all over the country, as well as proof that sailing can be a spectator sport. It gives sailors hope that they won't have to travel all the way across oceans to find top match race regattas, and it gives promise to sailors like myself, seeking sponsors to support their sailing campaigns. People do enjoy watching this sport, and sponsors can see a return on their money. Can you believe that there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of people at St. Francis Yacht Club watching the racing last week? Then consider all the viewers watching over the Internet on What a revolution that was! I had friends all over the world telling me how great the coverage was!

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Feeling a bit excited, I move on to explain how special the assembled field of competitors was. I explain that 8 of the 10 sailors in the world were in attendance, and that doesn't even include Ed Baird, Peter Holmberg, Jesper Bank, or the eventual winner, Ben Ainslie. Oddly enough, I just named of 3 of the 4 semifinalists. They may not be ranked in the top 10, but they are far from rusty, as each of them is neck deep in America’s Cup campaigns. I could go on about all the World Championships and Olympic Medals these sailors have amassed, but the point has been made. I've never seen a field to rival this one.

For little ol' King Harbor Match Racing, the Allianz Cup took on a different significance. We knew we were low on the totem pole when we approached an event official on the practice day and he asked me "Which boat owner are you?" But this was our shot to turn a few heads and make a few people wise to what we can do. We finished 2 and 5, but I think we proved to ourselves and a few others that we belong here, just by how well we sailed. We started well, sailed solid upwind with good tactics, and were it not for our rust with the A-symmetrical tactics downwind we could have easily been 4 and 3 or even 5 and 2. In our second and third races, we led Paolo Cian and Ed Baird around the weather mark, only to slip up and let them get away on the run. We lost another tough one against Larry Ellison on a penalty when we were comfortably in the lead. Of course, hind-sight is 20/20, and I can say we "should have" won those races until I'm blue in the face. That's not the point I'm making here. The point is, our weaknesses are all tangible, we've learned a few lessons, and we're going to continue getting better. At this level, you don't get a lot of surprises. The best of the best don't come out with any kind of trickery - they just execute a little better than everybody else. That will be our goal in the coming year.

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I'm sure many of you join me in hoping that this event becomes an annual occurance. With racing right in front of St. Francis, the spectating was absolutely amazing, and it was complimented by a great cast of commentators. It's rare that we have such qualities in our regattas here in the US, and it would be a shame to let this one go. It would also be a shame to have the world's leading professional sailing circuit, the World Match Racing Tour, without a stop here in the US.

I'd like to send out a huge thanks to Craig Mitchell and Scott MacLeod for giving us the opportunity to compete in the Allianz Cup. We will see you again soon!

To everyone else, I hope you spend some time watching the video from the event on and, if you have not already, and I hope you tune in and watch live racing the next time it is available. Match racing is very special, and I hope more of you take the time to try it out and get involved! - Brian Angel, King Harbor Match Racing (USA)

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