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The Harbor Report: Catching up with some past cup racers

September 05, 2013|By Len Bose

During the next two weeks all eyes will be focused on the San Francisco Bay Area and the Americas Cup. I was fortunate to receive a press pass and plan on attending races Sept. 7 and 8.

I decided to research and contact a number of Newport Beach residents who have competed in the Americas Cup. We have a large number of people who have competed in the trails but only six who have raced in the cup.

Most all of you have heard the name Bill Ficker, the skipper of Intrepid during the 1970s defense of the cup against Gretel II. Ficker is a long time Newport Beach resident and a long time member of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club and still might have a lapel button with " Ficker is Quicker" on it. Another crew member aboard Intrepid, also a Newport Beach resident and Harbor 20 sailor, is George Twist.

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I asked Twist how he liked the new format of the 72-foot catamarans in the Americas Cup this year.

"I am positive about what they are doing this year, this is new stuff and its pretty exciting," he said with enthusiasm in his voice. "There is nothing like these AC 72s but I do hope that they change the boats for the next event. The boats are fast but they are not much for tactics or strategy."

When I asked Twist about the good times he had back in the summer of 1970 he was quick to say, "The competition was only on the water. In town we were all good friends and we had fun with our opponents."

He went on to tell me about the favorite meeting places in Newport, R.I. The Candy Store and the Black Pearl were two places that most of the crew would show up at after racing each day, he said.

It was "just a lot of fun doing this," Twist told me.

Twist plans on attending the Intrepid reunion during the cup and thought it best to watch the races on television.

My next call was to Dennis Durgan, who is now one of our area's prominent residential real estate agents. In 1980 Durgan was invited to join the Freedom campaign as Dennis Conners' tactician. They raced Australia, known for her flexible mast, and beat the competition 4-1 in the best-of-seven series.

When I asked Durgan about the new format he said, "I am keeping an open mind. I am not sure if taking these boats to the limits stays with the tradition of the cup and match racing."

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