Photo Credit: Ian Roman/WMRT

LONG BEACH, CALIF 2 April 2017 – In a series of matches that were as mercurial as the weather, Ian Williams (GBR) and his team GAC Pindar triumphed in the 53rd Congressional Cup, beating Johnie Berntsson (SWE) in a fifth and final winner-take-all match. But Williams had been denied, after two consecutive Congressional Cup wins in 2011 and 2012; even as he reigned as six-time Match Racing World Champion. And in 2016, his team finished last in the Congressional Cup.

That shakeup was motivating, said Williams, who vowed to come back and redeem himself. He returned to Congressional Cup this week, building momentum throughout the five-day event. In the Quarter Finals he conquered Chris Steele (NZL), moving on to beat defending champion Taylor Canfield in the Semi Finals in three strokes; leading Williams into the Finals against Berntsson.

Photo Credit: Ian Roman/WMRT

Races were aggressive, including two matches held as a thick bank of fog rolled through. “It’s rare to race like that; difficult when you can’t see the top mark,” Williams said. But they were able to keep close to Berntsson, and get a win in the second match. “Johnie has been on fire this week, and we thought once we got a win on him, maybe we could break his spell.”

In the fourth flight, that fire turned explosive. In a blistering pre-start, as the boats skimmed the pier, Williams was penalized for nosing in without room. Flagged, he continued his combat with Berntsson, sprinting toward the start line, but didn’t keep clear of Berntsson, picking up a second penalty, then as he tacked back to clear the committee boat he was forced to fend off, warranting a third and terminal (black) flag. The race was over nearly as soon as it had begun.

Photo Credit: Ian Roman/WMRT

“We were expecting it,” Williams admitted, but they shook it off. “We just had to forget about it, and move on to the next race.”

With wheels spinning, racing resumed, in a final winner-takes-all match. Splitting tacks, at the leeward gate Williams went left while Berntsson banked on the right side of the course … and lost. With the late afternoon wind waning, Williams got the better breeze, and defeated Berntsson by over a minute.

Sundays final day of Congressional Cup racing had commenced in 11knots of southerly breeze, in Long Beach: one of North America’s busiest, and premier seaports. As the waters sparkled in the bright sunshine, the 1.5nm Fleet Race and a $2K purse was won by Steele; but not without a fight from Sam Gilmour (AUS).

Going into the day, both Berntsson and Williams were within one point of the Finals. Each smartly dispatched their rivals: Taylor Canfield (ISV) and Phil Robertson (NZL) (respectively) – who went on to compete in the Petite Finals. In that contest, Canfield defeated Robertson 2-0 for third place in the Congressional Cup regatta.

Berntsson had cruised through Qualifying, finishing at the top of the leaderboard over 11 of the world’s top yacht racing talents. His only losses during the week had been to Harry Price (AUS) and Gilmour (AUS) – two young talented Aussie, who were subsequently eliminated.

Photo Credit: Ian Roman/WMRT

Berntsson had been on a roll and eager to win his second Crimson Blazer: having won the title in 2009. Bowing to Williams in the Finals, he said, “We’re already looking forward to coming back next year.”

Congressional Cup is held directly off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, which was abuzz with hundreds of spectators who turned out for today’s exciting conclusion.

Congressional Cup is part of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) and a 53-year tradition in the sport of sailing. A model and innovator in the game of match racing since 1965, Congressional Cup pioneered the concept of on-the-water umpiring in 1988. The event combines expert race organization with outstanding hospitality, to make it a favorite among match racing skippers worldwide.

It is hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club one of the premier boating institutions in the United States since 1929. The Club and associated Long Beach Sailing Foundation maintain a fleet of identical 37-foot Catalina sloops designed specifically for the event; which guarantees an even platform and exciting competition.

Congressional Cup 2018 is scheduled for April 3 to 8. For more information, and full results, please visit


Ian Williams – GAC Pindar GBR
Johnie Berntsson – Flux Team SWE
Taylor Canfield – US One ISV
Phil Robertson – China One Ningbo NZL
Sam Gilmour – Neptune Racing AUS
Scott Dickson – Dickson Racing USA
Joachim Aschenbrenner – Aschenbrenner Racing DEN
Chris Steele – 36 Below Racing NZL
Eric Monnin – Albert Riele Swiss Team SUI
Harry Price – Down Under Racing AUS
Nicolai Sehested – EWII Racing DEN
David Storrs – Pequot Racing USA

Cat Fight One is in the Bag! – Updated Post

March 25-26, 2017    Mission Bay Yacht Club


Event Recap:

By Bryan Paine March 30, 2017

On the weekend of March 25, 2017, a stacked fleet of sixteen F18’s, a Nacra 20, Carbon 20, and two A Cats raced in the Great Pacific off of Mission Beach, San Diego. The race committee did an excellent job, managing to pull off a trapezoid on Saturday followed by a windward leeward course on Sunday with several races having boats finish just seconds apart.  Most of the teams are campaigning for this year’s highly anticipated America’s in Long Beach, September 5th-9th. Word on the street is that we could see over 100 F18’s at ABYC in September and even more are forecasted to face off Sarasota, FL next October for Worlds.

Tricky conditions on Saturday had teams searching for pressure and juggling different modes with waves bigger than the shifty westerly.  The occasional kelp patches spiced things up, especially when teams had to sail directly into them just seconds after the start. The typical San Diego game plan is to play the right, but the left seemed to trump most of the weekend with the combination of ebbing current and better pressure.

On Sunday, Mother Nature provided the fleet with a 5-10 knot westerly with 3-4 foot rollers.  The left side of the course was a safe bet both upwind and downwind all day.  Teams were surfing down the waves so fast that they would run out of their apparent wind. Travis Vetter managed to convince a good number of sailors to carry their phones so that they could compare tracking notes via Race Q’s after the race.

Rolex Yachtsman of the year, Bill Hardesty, and his Etchells World Champion wife, Mandi Hardesty, had an extra gear over the rest of the fleet all weekend, squeaking out last year’s winners Steve Stroebel and Matt Morris by four points.

The future of the fleet looks bright, competitive and inclusive as we have lots of new young talent, an America’s Cup designer and America’s Cup skipper looking to get into the fleet in the near future. Lots of exciting events to looks forward to and great competition to be had.