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.
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.
“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.
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 www.thecongressionalcup.com
|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|
March 25-26, 2017 Mission Bay Yacht Club
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.
LONG BEACH, CALIF 1 April 2017 – – “Choices are the hinges of destiny,” goes the famous quote by Edwin Markham, and today’s Congressional Cup racing proved that making good choices can make, or break, you.
As the frontrunner after two days of Qualifying, Johnie Berntsson (SWE) elected to race eighth place Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN). As swiftly as one-two-three Berntsson dispatched the young Dane; by nearly two minutes in one match. Similarly, second-place Taylor Canfield (ISV) chose seventh-place Scott Dickson (USA); and knocked him out in a swift trio of matches.
But Phil Robertson’s (NZL) pick of Sam Gilmour (AUS) as his pairing proved risky. Nearly too risky. Scrapping around the course, Robertson lost the first race. “After that I thought about changing my flight home,” he joked. But Robertson rebounded, and squeaked by in the next three; while Chris Steele (NZL) fell 1:3 to Ian Williams (GBR) – including one photo-finish.
Williams had been on a wild winning streak yesterday, which continued into Saturday as he advanced to the Semi Finals and took two points off reigning Congressional Cup champion Taylor Canfield (ISV). The series is first to three.
But going into Sunday’s races Canfield remained confident. “Do you know how many times we’ve won three in a row? A lot,” he emphasized, pointing to the morning’s defeat of Scott Dickson. “We can win three in a row against Ian Williams, no problem.”
Berntsson remained unflappable too, after two solid wins against Robertson in the Semis, in part due another good choice: a professional crew. “He brought in some excellent guys, all pros who race over 150 days a year,” said trimmer Philip Kai-Guhle. “It makes a difference. Johnie can do whatever he needs in the back of the boat, and we just do what needs to be done in our part.”
As a result, Berntsson’s style is “very relaxed” added bowman “Ricky-Bobby” McGarvie. “He makes things easy on the crew, and even when we stuff it up, he’s pretty cool. We just move on to the next manoeuvre.”
Berntsson, Williams, Canfield and Robertson vie for the Congressional Cup, and the coveted Crimson Blazer. Of this field, three have already won it: Berntsson – 2009; Williams – 2011 and 2012; and Canfield – 2014, 2015, 2016. Robertson, the current World Champion, has podiumed in the Congressional Cup, but a win in 2017 would mark his first chance to don the iconic Crimson Blazer.
Saturday’s Quarter and Semi Finals racing took place in southerly 6-9 knot breezes that built to 14 knots from the South West, making an exciting penultimate day to the 53rd Congressional Cup.
Semi-Finals continue Sunday April 2, with light breeze and sunshine forecast. Racing is held off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, where spectators can enjoy superb viewing of the race action, with live commentary, starting at 11:30 Pacific Time.
ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL CUP
The Congressional Cup has been an innovator in the game of match racing since 1965, introducing on-the-water umpiring in the 1988 regatta. The event is renowned for its world-class hospitality and organization, utilizing the talents and energy of a unique volunteer force of more than 300 members of LBYC – 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.
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 3-1 Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing
Phil Robertson (NZL) China One Ningbo 3-1 Sam Gilmour (AUS) Neptune Racing
Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 3-0 Scott Dickson (USA) Dickson Racing
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Flux Team 3-0 Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Aschenbrenner Racing
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 2-0 Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Flux Team 2-0 Phil Robertson (NZL) China One Ningbo
Johnie Berntsson – Flux Team SWE 4
Ian Williams – GAC Pindar GBR 2
Taylor Canfield – US One ISV 4
Phil Robertson – China One Ningbo NZL 3
Sam Gilmour – Neptune Racing AUS 3
Joachim Aschenbrenner – Aschenbrenner Racing DEN 2
Chris Steele – 36 Below Racing NZL 2
Scott Dickson – Dickson Racing USA 2
For complete results and more information go to www.thecongressionalcup.com and www.wmrt.com.
LONG BEACH, CALIF 31 March 2017 – – In France they call it a “Repêchage.” In America it’s known as a “do-over.” And today, in the world of top-level match racing, it was called “redemption.”
Ian Williams (GBR) – who finished at the bottom of the pack in last year’s Congressional Cup – was off with a vengeance today, winning all of his matches in the Repêchage on day three of this 53-year institution.
Six-time Match Racing World Champion Williams shockingly finished last in the 2016 Congressional Cup, earning the consolation prize: a copy of Arthur Knapp Jr.’s book “Race Your Boat Right.” At the time, he swore his team would return to Congressional Cup this year to “redeem themselves” and that they did: with a stunning streak of seven wins against his top-ranked rivals in today’s series. “The guys did a great job, we had good speed all day. That kept the pressure off, and our noses clean,” explained Williams, who added they were glad for the extra practice time on the boats.
He advances to the Quarter Finals tomorrow along with Scott Dickson (USA), Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN), and Chris Steele (NZL) – who turned the tide, winning five races today: versus three wins total Wednesday and Thursday. Steele returned to the course this morning promising to race, “a little more aggressive, and a little less forgiving,” and ended the day, “feeling very confident.”
After two days of Qualifying, frontrunners Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Taylor Canfield (ISV), Phil Robertson (NZL) and Sam Gilmour (AUS) had secured their spots in Saturday’s Quarter Finals. They got a day off in sunny California, where Congressional Cup racing continues through Sunday April 2.
But the other eight contestants were left to battle it out for the final four berths in the Repêchage: a trial heat which gives first-round losers a last-ditch chance to qualify for the Quarter Finals. Harry Price (AUS), Nicolai Sehested (DEN), Eric Monnin (SUI) and David Storrs (USA) were eliminated in matches sailed in “classic Long Beach conditions” – steady westerly breeze averaging 14 knots. And although Storrs was skunked in the Repêchage, his Pequot Racing Team won in the Junior Congressional Cup: skippered by LBYC junior sailor Trent Turigliatto with Alex Curtiss as crew.
The Congressional Cup is part of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT), an intense round-the-world circuit which kicked off earlier this month in Perth, Australia and concludes in October in China.
“Now it’s the business end of the regatta. Play time is over!” announced WMRT Race Director Craig Mitchell, in preparation for Saturday’s brutal Quarter Final knock-out rounds. The leaderboard is wiped clean: scores return to zero.
Saturday’s pairings are: Berntsson v. Aschenbrenner; Canfield v. Dickson; Robertson v. Gilmour; Williams v. Steele. The first four to reach three points will advance to Semi Finals: vying for the Congressional Cup and coveted Crimson Blazer – an honor bestowed on the top names in sailing over the years, including Dennis Conner, Ed Baird, Ted Turner, Dean Barker, Ken Read, Gavin Brady and more.
Spectators are invited to watch the races off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, on the Congressional Cup Stadium Course: a federally designated area of Long Beach’s outer harbor. The venue offers ideal viewing with live commentary and camaraderie.
ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL CUP
The Congressional Cup features five days of top notch yacht racing at its finest. Founded in 1965 and pioneer of on-the-water umpiring in 1988, he Congressional Cup is regarded as the ‘granddaddy of match racing.’ The event is renowned for its world-class hospitality and organization, utilizing the talents and energy of a unique volunteer force of more than 300 members of LBYC – 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. Visit www.thecongressionalcup.com for more information.
Repêchage Standings: Day Three of Congressional Cup
Ian Williams – GAC Pindar GBR 7
Chris Steele – 36 Below Racing NZL 5
Scott Dickson – Dickson Racing USA 4
Joachim Aschenbrenner – Aschenbrenner Racing DEN 4
Harry Price – Down Under Racing AUS 3
Eric Monnin – Albert Riele Swiss Team SUI 3
Nicolai Sehested – EWII Racing DEN 2
David Storrs – Pequot Racing USA 0