SAILING CONGRESSIONAL CUP : Money Is No Objective as Davis Wins His Fourth Title

TIMES STAFF WRITER

If home is merely a state of mind for Rod Davis, one place must be Long Beach, where he won an Olympic gold medal in 1984 and his fourth Congressional Cup on Sunday.

Davis grew up sailing in Southern California, has lived in New Zealand since the 1987 America's Cup and will move to Australia before May 1 to qualify to sail the 1995 America's Cup for that nation.

But he would sail in Long Beach for nothing--and did. His victory in the Australia Cup two months ago was worth $12,000, and most of his colleagues on the Omega World Match Racing Circuit ignored the Congressional because it is the only one of the 11 events still not offering prize money.

"I knew there was no money when I signed up to come," Davis said. "Sure, we'd like to have prize money to offset expenses because it does cost quite a bit to come, but this is where I started match racing."

Nobody else has won the Congressional more than twice, while Davis, 37, has won it every four years starting in 1981. Sunday he swept his races against the other three contenders to finish the double round-robin at 15-3.

Newcomer Steve Grillon of Redondo Beach, who was part of Davis' crew in those early successes, was second at 13-5, followed by Bertrand Pace of France and Roy Heiner of the Netherlands at 12-6.

After a poor start against Pace to start the day, Davis dogged his rival's stern until finally overtaking him 150 yards from the finish in a series of downwind jibes. He won by two boat lengths to knock the French crew out of contention.

Then, as the wind increased from four to 22 knots, Davis got a small jump on Grillon at the gun and hung on for a five-second victory, about one boat length.

Meanwhile, Heiner was having a 0-3 day that against Pace included three pre-start fouls and then a premature start that required him to return to restart before performing his penalty turns.

Davis' crew, with whom he normally would divide prize money equally, included older brother Geoff Davis as pitman, Mike Pentecost of San Pedro as bowman and three New Zealanders: brother-in-law Tom Schnackenberg, tactician; Don Cowie, mainsail trimmer, and Grant Loretz, jib and spinnaker trimmer.

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