LONG BEACH, CALIF 20 APRIL 2018 – –With only two flights left in the 54th Congressional Cup regatta’s Round Robin series – to determine which skippers will advance to the semi-finals – the hard-hitting competition escalated. Dean Barker (USA) and American Magic remained on top, with Taylor Canfield (USA), Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Sam Gilmour (AUS) and Ian Williams (GBR) all within striking distance of qualification.
Johnie Berntsson takes second, to fill Ficker Cup roster
LONG BEACH, CALIF 15 April 2018 – Dean Barker, USA, dominated the 2018 Ficker Cup, to win this Grade Two World Sailing regatta, and advance to the Congressional Cup, which runs Wednesday April 16 to 22, 2018.
Also qualifying for Congressional Cup is Johnie Berntsson, SWE, who finished second in the three-day regatta, which was founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1980 to honor legendary yachtsman Bill Ficker.
Barker was nearly undefeated in Ficker Cup, logging an impressive 13-1 record in the Round Robins. His only loss was to Dave Hood, USA: a Staff Commodore at LBYC and winner of the recent California Dreamin’ stop, who used his local knowledge advantage to call a shift to the right side of the course.
But from that point on, Barker was unstoppable, dispatching Leonard Takahashi, JAP, in the semi-finals 3-0; and crushing Berntsson 3-0 in the finals.
“I’m not sure when we stopped match racing,” Barker said; speculating the 2005 Congressional Cup event, which he won, “could be one of the last match racing events I’ve done.” But he certainly hasn’t lost his touch, as evidenced by his steady, cool-headed performance on the waters of Long Beach.
Sunday delivered a chilly and shifty sea breeze beneath hazy skies. As a backdrop to the racing was the pervasive buzz of Long Beach Grand Prix racing, downtown.
After Barker defeated Berntsson in the final of the Round Robins; he swiftly dispatched Leonard Takahashi, JAP, in the semi-finals; while Berntsson eliminated Chris Poole, USA, 3-0.
In the petit finals, Poole, a late addition to Ficker Cup, placed third, after a 2-1 finish over Takahashi, but admitted he had been mildly surprised to make it to the semis. “Honestly, when we came out here, and our practice day was cut short due to heavy winds, and one of our crew wasn’t here yet, I didn’t think we’d be here,” he said.
In a series fraught with fouls – including a black flag disqualification – he said, “Looking back, there’s a little more work to be done, to find that extra gear that Johnie seems to have found.”
Takahashi, finish fourth, said, “I’m still trying to figure out how we got into a position to get to race Dean Barker. It was truly a humbling experience, and I’m thankful to Dean for giving us a lesson.”
“He’s a great sailor; the whole team’s been looking up to him for years,” added Takahashi, who is just 19 years old. “I’m honored to be able to race against him, and all these guys here.”
Berntsson’s advancement marks his tenth entry into the Congressional Cup. Winner of the Crimson Blazer in 2009, he finished second last year.
At the prizegiving at LBYC, Deon Macdonald, daughter of the late Bill Ficker, was on hand to present the esteemed Ficker Cup to Barker.
“It’s an honor to win the trophy named after Bill Ficker,” Barker remarked. “It’s been a fantastic week, it feels a little like coming home to Long Beach.” Barker has competed in three prior Congressional Cup regattas, winning the trophy in 2000 and 2005.
“This has been a fantastic opportunity for our American Magic team to go sailing in a competitive environment; and get back into the match racing game. It’s great for the soul to do this kind of racing, and race against these guys here.”
Both Barker, and tactician Terry Hutchinson, are past Congressional Cup winners, (Barker, 2005 and 2009; Hutchinson, 1992) and America’s Cup veterans, kingpins in NYYC’s American Magic campaign to challenge for the AC in 2021. Other crew members are James Baxter, James Dagg, Sean Clarkson, Greg Gendell, and James Lyne, with Jennifer Tille on logistics.
THE CONGRESSIONAL CUP
Congressional Cup racing runs Wednesday April 16 through Sunday April 22, beginning at roughly 11:30AM in the waters off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, where spectators can enjoy commentary and camaraderie as they watch the competition. It is hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club, one of the nation’s premiere boating institutions since its founding in 1929. It is located at 6201 E. Appian Way in Long Beach, Calif. For complete information on Congressional Cup please visit www.thecongressionalcup.com
LONG BEACH, CALIF 14 April 2018 – The breeze on Day Two of the Ficker Cup may have been shifty, but “steady” was the name of the game for Dean Barker and team American Magic, as they clung to the top of the leaderboard, with six wins and no losses in the series’ second Round Robin.
The Ficker Cup is a World Sailing Grade Two regatta – prestigious in its own right, but significant as a stepping stone to the Congressional Cup. Founded in 1980 to honor Bill Ficker, a legendary yachtsman who helmed Intrepid to victory in the 1970 America’s Cup and won the Congressional Cup in 1974, it offers world-class match racing action in an equalized fleet of one-design Catalina 37s yachts.
And today, all eyes were on the scoreboard, as Dean Barker, USA, solidified his first place position and advancement to the semi-finals tomorrow, along with Johnie Berntsson, SWE, 5-1. Chris Poole, USA, and Leonard Takahashi, JAP, both 3-3, also proceed to the semis – edging out competitor and LBYC Staff Commodore Dave Hood, defeated in the tie-breaker.
Ficker Cup racing will continue tomorrow Sunday April 15 at approximately 11:30AM off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, where spectators can watch the action live. While today’s breeze built to 11 knots from the southwest, tomorrow’s forecast is for slightly lighter wind conditions.
The top two Ficker Cup finalists will advance to the Congressional Cup, the ‘granddaddy’ of modern world-class match racing, founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1965.
“What The Masters Green Jacket is to pro golfing, the Crimson Blazer is to yacht racing,” explained Congressional Cup Chairman Eric Dickinson. “The Congressional Cup is one of the most prestigious yacht racing events in the world and a gateway to the America’s Cup; and the members of Long Beach Yacht Club are proud to present this premier event for the 54th year.”
24 JANUARY 2018 LONG BEACH, CA – – The 54th Congressional Cup goes back to its roots this year, returning to the exciting 10-boat format favored by spectators and competitors alike!
The Congressional Cup is recognized as the ‘granddaddy’ of modern world-class match racing. Founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1965, it set the standard for top-level match racing worldwide, pioneering the concept of on-the-water umpiring, in a spectator-friendly venue.
This thrilling event returns to Long Beach April 17 to 22, 2018 with an all-star, international lineup. According to Congressional Cup Chairman Eric Dickinson, five of the world’s top 10 ranked match racing skippers will compete, including three-time Congressional Cup winner Taylor Canfield (ISV), Harry Price (AUS), Sam Gilmour (AUS) and Chris Steele (NZL). Swiss sailor Eric Monnin will also return, plus Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) and hometown favorite Scott Dickson.
Reigning Congressional Cup champion Ian Williams (GBR) will be back, to defend his 2017 title. In last year’s edition, Williams went from rags to riches: scrapping his way to victory after a shocking last-place finish in 2016.
The Congressional Cup – with teams competing in a series of one-on-one races – is famous for turning the leaderboard upside down, and the 10-boat, double round-robin format intensifies that. Double round-robins give competitors twice the chance to familiarize with the boats and conditions and sharpen their skills, making for more rousing competition, which delights racers and fans alike.
And there’s more, announced Dickinson. The LBYC 2018 Congressional Cup is raising the bar yet again, with the introduction of multiple channel worldwide live streaming coverage on the major Social Media platforms and broadcast television. Improved media coverage is expected to benefit the teams, sponsors and virtual spectators, as the eyes of the world turn to Long Beach this spring.
Racing will commence Wednesday April 18 off Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier immediately after the Ficker Cup regatta – which determines the final two contestants in Congressional Cup.
With matches held directly off the pier, spectators can enjoy live commentary and camaraderie every day from 11:30 to 5:00. Roughly three days of double round-robins will be followed by semi-finals and petit finals, culminating with the final matches Sunday April 22: where the winner of the Congressional Cup will receive the coveted Crimson Blazer.
“What The Masters Green Jacket is to pro golfing, the Crimson Blazer is to yacht racing,” explained Dickinson. “The Congressional Cup is one of the most prestigious yacht racing events in the world and a gateway to the America’s Cup; and the members of Long Beach Yacht Club are proud to present this premier event for the 54th year.”
With the format changes, Dickinson continued, LBYC bids adieu and best of luck to the World Match Racing Tour, which was linked to the Congressional Cup for the last several years.
The Congressional Cup is hosted by LBYC, renowned for its outstanding hospitality and organization, utilizing the talents and energy of more than 300 member volunteers to host this Grade WC competition. Since 1965 the world’s top ranked skippers have come here to vie for the esteemed Congressional Cup and the Crimson Blazer – an honor bestowed to sailing icons like Dennis Conner, Dean Barker, Ken Read, Ted Turner, Taylor Canfield and more. Races are sailed in a fleet of identical 37-foot Catalina monohulls designed specifically for the event, which guarantees an even platform and exciting competition.