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CONGRESSIONAL CUP GIVES SAILORS & SPECTATORS A TASTE OF THE WILD, WILD, WEST

LONG BEACH, CALIF 19 APRIL 2018 – – More round-ups than a Western movie thrilled spectators, and challenged competitors, on Day Two of the Long Beach Yacht Club Congressional Cup regatta. Dean Barker (USA) and Team American Magic continued to hold the reins at the top of the leaderboard, as racing continued into the second Round Robin.

As the breeze rocketed up to 18 knots, there were wipe-outs, collisions and protests galore. Johnie Berntsson’s (SWE) Catalina 37 was so damaged during contact, it began to take on water; they transferred to the backup boat. And Harry Price (AUS) proved how close race action is to the audience on the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier; when his boat knocked a lamppost off the corner of the wharf. It will now be known as ‘Price Point,’ sailors jested.

2018 Congressional Cup – Photo Credit: Sharon Green

Despite chaos and crashes, Chief Umpire Russell Green announced, “Today is one of the best days match racing has seen. Congratulations to all the competitors.” Green has been a World Sailing International Umpire since 1991, involved in the Olympics, America’s Cup and the foremost racing events around the globe. His accolade is a testament to the high level of competition and professionalism exhibited at the Congressional Cup regatta. Racing continues through Sunday, April 22, in the waters off Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, starting around 11:30AM daily.

This afternoon’s thrilling conditions unfolded after a rainy, stormy morning. Strong breeze and significant chop mixed with bloodthirsty sailors – hungry for a spot in the semi-finals – to create a thrilling atmosphere. With seven races remaining in the Round Robins, Barker remains on top at 10-1; suffering his first defeat of the series, to Eric Monnin (SUI). Sam Gilmour (AUS) is in second, 7-4; followed closely by a trio at 6-5: Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Taylor Canfield (USA), and Ian Williams (GBR).

2018 Congressional Cup – Photo Credit: Sharon Green

A collision during the Berntsson vs. Barker match, with both boats heeled way over in the breeze; caused Berntsson’s boat to get holed below the waterline. The slow seepage forced the team to swap to a backup boat. The Long Beach Sailing Foundation maintains a fleet of 11 equally equipped custom-made Catalina 37s specifically for one-design and match racing. The 37-foot keelboats are maintained to identical standards in all performance areas: weight, equipment, rig tuning and sails; to put the onus on the skills and strategies of the competitors.

“We thought the Catalina 37s were unsinkable,” Berntsson said, passing a case of Stella Artois to the repair boat crew, and thanking them for their assistance.

Despite contentious racing, most of the sailors are fairly chummy, frequently traveling to the same events around the world.

2018 Congressional Cup – Photo Credit: Sharon Green

“We’re really good friends actually,” said Canfield, after his rousing bout with Chris Steele (NZE); playing golf and socializing in between M32 racing events in Miami.

That friendship brings with it a good deal of familiarity, though.

“It’s always a challenge trying to figure out where to jibe; if you go to early the trailing boat can take advantage of that.” But with Steele on his tail, he said, “We picked a good spot to jibe, and made his decision very hard. In that situation, you’re almost hoping he tries to roll you, because then he’s stuck out to the right side of the finish line; and that’s just what played out. He got a bit too close, which gave him a penalty.”

“It’s quite funny, because you know what he’s thinking, and vice versa,” added Steele. “It goes back and forth. You gain a little advantage, then give a little way to the other guy. The result can go from what looks like a really comfortable win, to slipping away from you.” Steele lost that match, and sits at 4-7. “We lost three that could have gone our way; which is very frustrating. But it’s exciting racing; it’s all really good fun and all the guys are in really good spirits.”

Double Round Robins continue tomorrow, advancing to semi-finals, petit final, and final racing through Sunday April 22, when the winner hoists the silver Congressional Cup and dons the prestigious Crimson Blazer.

HOW TO WATCH  Enjoy stadium viewing of the Congressional Cup free at Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, 15 39th Place, Long Beach, Calif. Live commentary by celebrity announcer Tucker Thompson is accompanied by large screen TVs featuring multiple camera angles, for a fully immersive and entertaining experience. Parking, facilities and food service are available. Races are also live-streamed on Facebook @CongressionalCup and YouTube: visit www.thecongressionalcup.com for full information.

THE CONGRESSIONAL CUP is one of the most prestigious top-level yachting events in the world. Established by LBYC in 1965, it is recognized as the “grandfather” of match racing, pioneering the concept of on-the-water umpiring 30 years ago. Each year, this World Sailing Grade One competition features an elite delegation of the world’s best sailors competing in five days of rousing matches, in the waters off Long Beach, Calif.

2018 Congressional Cup – Photo Credit: Sharon Green

PRELIMINARY STANDINGS ROUND ROBIN

Dean Barker (USA)                           10-1

Sam Gilmour (AUS)                          7-4

Johnie Berntsson (SWE)                  6-5

Taylor Canfield (USA)                      6-5

Ian Williams   (GBR)                          6-5

Harry Price    (AUS)                          4-7

Eric Monnin  (SUI)                            4-7

Chris Steele  (NZL)                           4-7

Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN)     4-7

Scott Dickson (USA)                        3-8

WIND AND “WOW” ON DAY ONE OF CONGRESSIONAL CUP

Barker’s American Magic Undefeated after Six Races

LONG BEACH, CALIF 18 APRIL 2018 – -Dean Barker (USA) celebrated his 45th birthday with six straight wins on Day One of the 54th annual Congressional Cup regatta, hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC). Stiff competition, and solid breeze that started at eight knots and built to an exciting 14 knots, greeted the 10 top match racing teams from around the globe who convened in Long Beach for this prestigious World Sailing Grade One regatta. Congressional Cup racing continues through Sunday April 22, on the waters off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

Barker’s team American Magic had battled its way into the Congressional Cup, qualifying at last week’s Ficker Cup regatta with just one loss under the belt. It was the first stop on the New York Yacht Club American Magic challenge for the 36th America’s Cup; and an auspicious one for Barker, CEO/tactician Terry Hutchinson and the campaign.

2018 Congressional Cup – Credit: Sharon Green

In a three-way tie for second place, after six flights of round robin racing, are Johnie Berntsson (SWE) 2009 Congressional Cup champion; three-time victor, in 2014, 2015 and 2016, Taylor Canfield (USA); and  and Sam Gilmour (AUS).

Gilmour set sail this morning with a secret weapon: 11-year-old Jack Snow.

LBYC members house the visiting Congressional Cup crew and officials, and for six years Julie and Bob Snow have welcomed various team members into their home. “The guys are near and dear to our hearts, and have become like family to us,” explained Julie Snow.

So when Sam Gilmour’s Congressional Cup team weighed in significantly lighter than the maximum weight limit – a huge disadvantage in the breeze – they thought of the Snows’ son: Jack.

“We’ve all seen Jack growing up over the years,” surmised Gilmour, “and he gets bigger all the time …”

Photo Credit: Tom Walker

“I received a random text from Keith Swinton (tactician) saying ‘Hi Julie, how much does Jack weigh?’ I thought that was funny … but I had just weighed him, and texted back,” said Julie Snow.

Jack tipped the scales at 40.2 kilos.

“And as it turned out, we were 41 kilos below weight,” Gilmour said.

“I got home from school and my mom said, ‘I’ve got to show you something,’” said Jack. Swinton had videotaped an invitation.

‘Would Jack join Gilmour’s Neptune Racing Team for the 2018 Congressional Cup?’

“At first I thought it was a prank! Then I realized it wasn’t,” admitted Jack.

“I thought he was going to pass out!” his mother laughed. “He hasn’t missed any school this year, and he’s gotten great grades, so Bob and I said ‘okay.’ Keith is like a big brother to our son Jack, and I know he and the guys will take care of him; they’re all so fantastic.”

Jack started his sailing ‘career’ at age 4, with the LBYC Sea Otters, advancing to Sabots and FJs. He’s a floater on board, filling in when they need an extra pair of hands. “He’s great,” said Gilmour. “He has local knowledge, and comes up with some great one-liners too.”

And it seems Jack is a bit of a lucky charm as well.

For the past three years, he has competed in a fleet race, held on the final day of Congressional Cup, for teams that don’t qualify in the semi finals. He’s been on the winning team in both 2015 and 2017!

Coincidentally, the youngest sailor ‘til now has been Steve Flam, who raced in Congressional Cup 1976 at the age of 14; crewing for his father Barney Flam, while his mother did foredeck. Flam is still racing in Congressional Cup, with Dickson Racing Team. This year marks his 30th.

DREAM COME TRUE

The eyes of the world turned toward Congressional Cup today, with LBYC’s new live stream of racing, with play-by-play by celebrity commentator Tucker Thompson.

“This has been a dream of mine, and in the works, for years,” said Chairman Eric Dickinson. “Now, it’s a dream come true.”

Yacht racing aficionados can watch the races on Facebook and YouTube; find the link at www.thecongressionalcup.com. Live commentary is highlighted with feature segments by Australian Producer/Actress Camilla Jackson.

For those fortunate enough to live in Southern California, the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier provides spectacular viewing of the thrilling races. “One of the most exciting things is literally looking right down on these guys as they sail by. You can almost reach out and touch the sails, they’re so close,” said Dickinson. Live commentary keeps you up to speed with the races, in a festive atmosphere.

Photo Credit: Bronny Daniels

THE CONGRESSIONAL CUP is one of the most prestigious top-level yachting events in the world. Established in 1965, it is recognized as the “grandfather” of match racing, pioneering the concept of on-the-water umpiring 30 years ago. Each year, this World Sailing Grade One competition features an elite delegation of the world’s best sailors competing in five days of rousing matches, in the waters off Long Beach, Calif.

Racing begins at approximately 11:30AM daily, at Congressional Cup Stadium off the Belmont Memorial Veterans Pier. Double round robin, semi-finals, petit final, and final races will run through Sunday April 22, when the winner hoists the silver Congressional Cup and dons the prestigious Crimson Blazer!

HOW TO FOLLOW

To get a full dose of race atmosphere with stadium viewing, watch live from Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, at 15 39th Place, in Long Beach, Calif.

Live-streaming on Facebook @CongressionalCup and on the Congressional Cup website at www.thecongressionalcup.com. Coverage will include skipper interviews, results and daily highlights; for more information visit www.thecongressionalcup.com

PRELIMINARY STANDINGS ROUND ROBIN

Dean Barker (USA)                           6-0

Johnie Berntsson (SWE)                  4-2

Sam Gilmour (AUS)                          4-2

Taylor Canfield (USA)                      4-2

Harry Price    (AUS)                          3-2

Ian Williams   (GBR)                          3-2

Eric Monnin  (SUI)                            2-4

Chris Steele  (NZL)                           2-4

Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN)     2-4

Scott Dickson (USA)                        0-6

Cover Photo: Sharon Green

*****************************************************

IN MEMORIAM

Today’s Congressional Cup started with an on-the-water tribute to LBYC member Robert Graham, a local businessman, boater and community leader who died March 31, 2018 at the age of 82.

Graham was born in 1935 in San Marino and grew up on Balboa Island, where his first boat was a Balboa Dinghy – very much like a Naples Sabot. He won the International-14 championship in 1949 and was an extraordinary dinghy and big boat sailor. He

counted such notable Southern California sailors as Bill Ficker and Bill Lapworth

among his boyhood friends.

Graham chaired Congressional Cup in 1971, and was Commodore of LBYC in 1978.

He was recognized as providing sage advice to the club’s governance until his passing.

DEAN DOMINATES! BARKER WINS FICKER CUP, ADVANCES TO CONGRESSIONAL CUP

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.

Photo Credit: Bronny Daniels

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

FINAL RESULTS

  1. Dean Barker
  2. Johnie Berntsson
  3. Chris Poole
  4. Leonard Takahashi
  5. Dave Hood
  6. Maxime Mesnil
  7. Peter Holz
  8. Vladimir Lipavski

Cover Photo: Bronny Daniels

CONGRESSIONAL CUP RETURNS TO STIRRING 10-BOAT, DOUBLE ROUND-ROBIN FORMAT APRIL 17-22, 2018

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.

CONGRESSIONAL CUP

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.

FROM BLACK FLAG TO CRIMSON BLAZER: WILLIAMS WINS CONGRESSIONAL CUP 2017

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 www.thecongressionalcup.com

OVERALL RESULTS

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

BERNTSSON AND WILLIAMS ON THE BRINK: CONGRESSIONAL CUP TO BE DECIDED APRIL 2

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.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 1st April 2017.

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.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 1st April 2017.

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.”

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 1st April 2017.

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.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 1st April 2017.

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.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 1st April 2017.

QUARTERFINAL RESULTS

Congressional Cup
Quarter Finals
QF 1
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 3-1 Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing
QF 2
Phil Robertson (NZL) China One Ningbo 3-1 Sam Gilmour (AUS) Neptune Racing
QF3
Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 3-0 Scott Dickson (USA) Dickson Racing
QF4
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Flux Team 3-0 Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Aschenbrenner Racing

Semi Finals
SF 1
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 2-0 Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One
SF 2
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.

WILLIAMS DOMINATES REPECHAGE, QUALIFIES FOR CONGRESSIONAL CUP QUARTER FINALS

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.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 31st March 2017.

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.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 31st March 2017.

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.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 31st March 2017.

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.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 31st March 2017.

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

BERNTSSON BLASTS THROUGH QUALIFYING AT CONGRESSIONAL CUP

LONG BEACH, USA,  30 March 2017 – – “Mr Canfield, I like your jacket!” announced reigning Match Racing World Champion Phil Robertson (NZL), at the 53rd Congressional Cup’s opening ‘Meet the Skippers’ dinner.

Robertson, hot off a win in Match Cup Australia, alluded to some unfinished business from last year, when he finished at the top in Qualifying, but was eliminated in the Quarter Finals – leaving the door open for Canfield to win his third consecutive Crimson Blazer.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 30th March 2017.

The Crimson Blazer is the iconic prize and symbol of the Congressional Cup – along with the behemoth silver trophy on display at Long Beach Yacht Club.

“That’s mine!” chided Harry Price (AUS), pointing to the trophy, and joining the charge. Everyone is eager to unseat Canfield, number one-ranked by World Sailing; but the team best poised to crush Canfield, after two days of racing, appears to be Johnie Berntsson (SWE).

Berntsson and Canfield are matched point-for-point with nine wins each. The 2009 winner of the Congressional Cup, Berntsson has returned to Long Beach with a new, multi-cultural team, saying the mix is “challenging” – “but the really tight racing fires us up!” With one Dane, three Swedes and two Aussies, they are in first place at the end of Qualifying, winning the tie breaker over Canfield with a win in Flight 8.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 30th March 2017.

Today’s variable winds fluctuated from a low of 5 knots to a gusty 20 knot breezes in the afternoon, which put a halt to racing as the skippers changed to smaller jibs.

With tomorrow’s forecast for more breeze, Principal Race Officer Randy Smith pressed to complete all 14 flights of Qualifying, and called for an 1100 start to Friday’s races.

Berntsson, Canfield, Robertson and Sam Gilmour (NZL) move straight to the Quarter Finals on Saturday, with Friday now a welcome day off. The balance will fight for their spots in the Repechage; an eight boat round robin, to determine which four move on … and which four go home.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 30th March 2017.

The Congressional Cup is the second of seven stops on the prestigious World Match Racing Tour (WMRT), and a legend in itself. An innovator in the game of match racing since 1965, Congressional Cup introduced the concept of on-the-water umpiring in 1988. It is hosted by the Long Beach Yacht Club and raced in the Long Beach Sailing Foundation fleet of identical 37-foot Catalina sloops designed specifically for the event; which guarantees an even platform and exciting competition. The competition continues through Sunday April 2, directly off Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

World Match Racing Tour, Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, CA, USA. 30th March 2017.

Visit www.thecongressionalcup.com and www.wmrt.com for more information.

CONGRESSIONAL CUP 2017 GOES ‘OLD STYLE’ ON BELMONT PIER

LONG BEACH, CALIF  29 March 2017 – – Grab your lawn chair and cooler and come on down to the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier today through Sunday April 2, for the 53rd running of the Congressional Cup regatta!

Courtesy LBYC 1- Fans line the Pier for a close view of the races

Storms that dumped record rains on California damaged the pier, initially threatening to deter the hundreds of spectators who come to experience this world-class match racing extravaganza, each year. But the pier is safe and open to pedestrians, announced Chairman Joe Seibert, and set to provide ‘old style’ viewing of Congressional Cup 2017.

Congressional Cup is one of the longest-running match race regattas in North America, and the second stop on the World Match Racing Tour. Twelve of the world’s top ranked teams race, two at a time, in a series of spirited round robins; with the top point winners advancing to semi-finals and finals.

Since 1994 the races have been held inside the Long Beach breakwater, adjacent the Belmont Pier. From this vantage point spectators easily observed from the pier or vessels anchored nearby. It wasn’t unusual for fans to gather at pier’s end to cheer on the racers, tossing teddy bears and other good luck tokens to their favorite teams. Over time LBYC expanded the pier platform to include bleachers, pop-up tents and sponsor booths, commentators, VIP announcers and more. This carnival-like atmosphere has lured an audience of thousands: hard-core racers wanting to learn more about the thrilling art of match racing; plus novices and landlubbers eager for an entertaining day out.

This year, the City’s temporary ban on event permits has limited the yacht club’s plans – but not the racing, nor the determination of fans. An undaunted army of Do-It-Yourself spectators is expected to watch the races ‘old style’ – bringing lawn chairs, umbrellas, sodas and sandwiches. The outer wings are open to the public, while the central patio in front of Buoy’s café is restricted to LBYC members and guests. Food and drinks are available for purchase, and there will be live commentary on the pier, plus a scoreboard for keeping track of the action. Races will be held through Sunday April 2 beginning at 11:30AM daily.

The Belmont Pier opened in 1967, replacing the original wooden pier built in 1915, and renovated in 1951. Over 1600 feet long, it has easy access for the disabled, restrooms, lighting and convenient parking. For more information visit www.thecongressionalcup.com.

EVERYONE GETS A PIECE OF THE PIE ON DAY ONE OF CONGRESSIONAL CUP

LONG BEACH, USA 29 March 2017 – – Brilliant sunshine greeted the all-star line-up of Congressional Cup 2017, racing along the shores of Long Beach, California. Conditions were nothing like last year’s dismal, drizzly weather.

But the wind played havoc with racers none-the-less. Light breezes from the southwest built auspiciously, then plunged. The drop was so sudden, it threw Qualifying flight three into a frenzy …. a Swan Lake-like performance of boats grazing across the course with no apparent clue as to who was racing who. Caught in the shifts – from 185 degrees to 230 degrees – Congressional Cup defending champion Taylor Canfield (ISV) lost to Harry Price (AUS) by a full minute, while Sam Gilmour’s (AUS) time over Nicolai Sehested (DEN) was nearly the same. And Johnie Berntsson (SWE) hammered Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) by a remarkable two minutes: a huge spread for such a highly-ranked field of sailors.

But just as suddenly the sea breeze filled in to a brisk 12-14 knots. Aschenbrenner rebounded with a win over David Storrs (USA), and Canfield returned to his winning form: ending the day 4:1 – tied with Berntsson.

Both skippers are past Congressional Cup champions: Berntsson in 2009, and Canfield, 2014 – 2016. Like most of the teams on Day One, Berntsson said they “struggled with the details,” but added, “I’m happy, we had a good day and are staying in the game.”

Tied with three points each were Price, Gilmour, Phil Robertson (NZL) and Eric Monnin (SUI); followed by Aschenbrenner, Ian Williams (GBR), Chris Steele (NZL) and Scott Dickson (USA) each at two points.

Sehested and Storrs ended the day with one win each. “It was a bit of a tough day,” admitted Sehested, but he pointed out last year they moved up the leaderboard to second place overall, nearly capturing the title from Canfield, and was undeterred by his 1:4 start to the week.

And yet today, everyone got a piece of the pie, heralding the incredible level of competition expected over the next four days of Congressional Cup 2017. This 53-year tradition, hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club, is the second stop on the 2017 World Match Racing Tour, attracting a dozen of the top match racing teams from around the globe, as they vie for the Crimson blazer. Races will continue through Sunday April 2, beginning at 11:30 Pacific Time each day off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL CUP

The Congressional Cup has been a model and innovator in the game of match racing since 1965, introducing the concept of on-the-water umpiring in 1988. The Grade W event combines expert race organization with outstanding hospitality, to make it a favorite among match-racing skippers worldwide.

At Tuesday’s opening dinner Aschenbrenner announced, “After our first time here, I knew we had to come back!” – a point seconded by two-time Congressional Cup winner Williams, who said, “It’s absolutely our favorite regatta.” The event is almost entirely volunteer run, utilizing the talents and energy of a unique force of more than 300 members of LBYC – one of the premier boating institutions in the United States since 1929. For more information visit www.thecongressionalcup.com and www.wmrt.com.

DAY ONE RESULTS

Johnie Berntsson – Flux Team SWE 4
Taylor Canfield – US One ISV 4
Eric Monnin – Albert Riele Swiss Team SUI 3
Harry Price – Down Under Racing AUS 3
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
Ian Williams – GAC Pindar GBR 2
Scott Dickson – Dickson Racing USA 2
Nicolai Sehested – EWII Racing DEN 1
David Storrs – Pequot Racing USA 1

 

For up-to-the-minute results go to www.thecongressionalcup.com