LONG BEACH, CALIF. 17 MARCH 2019 — Imagine 50 yard line seats at the Superbowl. Floor seats at an NBA Championship, or behind the dugout at the World Series!
Find that hard to envision? What about front-row seats at one of the world’s top yacht racing events: the Congressional Cup!
The Congressional Cup is one of the leading match racing events in the sport, bringing top talent from around the globe to contend in thrilling one-on-one bouts on the water. This prestigious Grade One Match Racing regatta, hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club since 1965, returns to Long Beach April 3 to 7, 2019. Top-ranked skippers and their teams vie in double round robins aboard one-design Catalina 37s; squaring off against each rival twice, with the lucky frontrunners advancing into semi-finals and finals.
This exciting competition takes place directly off the Long Beach Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, where spectators can enjoy the action and commentary FREE OF CHARGE from 11:30AM to 5PM daily, April 3 to 7.
Compelling and insightful play-by-play will be announced by none other than pro TV personality Tucker Thompson, official Host of the 35th America’s Cup. Thompson, a former champion sailor and TV host and producer, will be joined by special guests to emcee five days of Congressional Cup action, live from the heart of the race.
The event is pure excitement, as competitors race so close to the pier, spectators can practically reach out and touch the sails. Commentators explain the ins and outs of match racing, each skipper’s maneuvers, and umpires’ calls. There will also be music and entertainment, refreshments, bleachers, and an enthusiastic crowd of fellow boaters who convene from far and wide to enjoy the spectacle.
Enjoy this FREE premier racing experience at Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, 15 39th Place in Long Beach, CA, where fans will find convenient parking and full facilities.
Can’t make it to the waterfront? Friday April 5 through Sunday April 7, Long Beach Yacht Club will offer live-streaming coverage and features to viewers around the globe on Facebook and the event website: www.thecongressionalcup.com. Nightly press conferences – relevant to the day’s racing, and always entertaining – will also be live-streamed, starting Wednesday April 3, at approximately 5:30pm.h
Who will win the prestigious Congressional Cup trophy and Crimson Blazer — an honor bestowed on sailing greats such as Dennis Conner, Dean Barker, Ken Read, Ted Turner and defending champion Taylor Canfield? Follow on Facebook @CongressionalCup or visit www.thecongressionalcup.com.
Ian Williams (GBR) Taylor Canfield (USA) Maxime Mesnil (FRA) Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Nicklas Dackhammar (SWE) Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL) Will Boulden (AUS) Scotty Dickson (USA)
LONG BEACH, CALIF. 17 MARCH 2019 – If the Congressional Cup is the gateway to the America’s Cup, the Ficker Cup is the gateway to the Congressional Cup.
This Grade 2 Match Racing competition, organized annually by Long Beach Yacht Club since 1980, is both a qualifier to the prestigious Congressional Cup regatta, as well as a world-class sailing event in its own right.
The 2019 Ficker Cup will take place March 29 to 31 in the Congressional Cup stadium, a designated race course adjacent the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, beginning at 11:30AM daily. Eight top-notch skippers from around the globe, each with a complement of five crew, have been invited to compete in the event, which consists of round robin racing followed by semi-finals, petit finals and finals.
At the end of three days, the winner will be awarded the Ficker Cup trophy: so named 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.
In addition, first and second place finishers are invited to compete in the esteemed Congressional Cup regatta, April 3 to 7, 2019.
A win in the Ficker Cup is auspicious. Last year’s Ficker Cup champion, Dean Barker, came within striking distance of capturing the Congressional Cup; finishing second in a thrilling final series of that event. Twice, Ficker Cup victors have gone on to win the Congressional Cup the same year: Terry Hutchinson and Simone Ferrarese.
Vying for the title are some of the world’s leading skippers, including several in the top 20 World Sailing Match Race rankings. Harry Price (AUS) #3, Chris Poole (USA) #15, Pearson Potts (USA) #16, Chris Nesbitt (USA) #38 , Joachim Aschenbrener (DEN) #41, and Dave Hood (USA) #59 return to Long Beach Yacht Club, while Charles Lalumiere (USA) #150, and Tom Spithill (AUS) #372 make their Ficker Cup debut.
On its heels: the 55th Congressional Cup, one of the leading match race events in the sport of sailing!
Enthusiasts are invited to enjoy the action, free-of-charge from Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, at 15 39th Place, in Long Beach, Calif.
Or, follow Ficker Cup online at www.lbyc.org and on Facebook @CongressionalCup.
Follow Congressional Cup at www.thecongressionalcup.com and on Facebook @CongressionalCup, where all races will be live-streamed April 5 through 7. Coverage will include skipper interviews, results and daily highlights, press conferences and special events. For broadcast schedules and more information visit www.thecongressionalcup.com.
FICKER CUP SKIPPERS Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Chris Poole (USA) David Hood (USA) Pearson Potts, Jr. (USA) Charles Lalumiere (USA) Harrison Price (NZL) Chris Nesbitt (USA) Tom Spithill (USA)
CONGRESSIONAL CUP SKIPPERS Ian Williams (GBR) Taylor Canfield (USA) Maxime Mesnil (FRA) Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Nicklas Dackhammar (SWE) Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL) Will Boulden (AUS) Scotty Dickson (USA)
LONG BEACH, CALIF 22 APRIL 2018 – – Taylor Canfield and Team US One have won the 2018 Congressional Cup after an intense five-day battle with nine other of the world’s top match racing talent; and fierce finals with Dean Barker and Team American Magic, who finished second. Sam Gilmour (AUS) defeated Johnie Berntsson (SWE) in the petit-finals, for third place in this prestigious World Sailing Grade One regatta hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club.
The final matches of this legendary yachting event came down to a USA sail-off Sunday.
Not since Ed Baird’s win in 2004, has Old Glory flown from the backstay of a winning boat. Although both Canfield and Barker are past Congressional Cup champions, at the time Canfield (2014, 2015, 2016) was sailing for the US Virgin Islands; and Barker (2000, 2005) under the Southern Cross, with Team New Zealand.
Defending 2017 Congressional Cup champion Ian Williams and Team GAC Pindar were edged out of the semi-finals; but rebounded with a win – and $2000 in prize money – in Sunday’s fleet race.
For the final day of Congressional Cup, despite a full docket, light breeze held off racing nearly an hour. Once they began, Canfield straightforwardly eliminated Berntsson, in the shifty 6 to 8 knot breeze.
Barker and Gilmour battled intensely, with finishes seconds apart. Going into race four, it was match point: Barker 2, Gilmour 1. Shortly after rounding the top mark on the second downwind leg, Gilmour’s spinnaker halyard popped. Despite a lightening fast recovery, Barker took the advantage and won that match, advancing to the finals.
Both Barker and Canfield have championship DNA: Barker, victorious in the America’s Cup arena; and Canfield, a Match Racing World Champion.
But Barker had beat Canfield in both matches in the Round Robins earlier this week, and held an impressive record of 16 wins – leaving Canfield the underdog, as he entered the finals.
In scintillating matches, as the wind built to 14 knots, Canfield took the first race, while Barker won the second. When the third bout went to Canfield, it all came down to race four.
By this point in the regatta the sailors were in tune with their boats; in the better breeze they accelerated, and excelled. After a thrilling start, on the first upwind leg Barker tacked too aggressively according to the judges, earning a penalty. The closely matched teams dueled around the course, with Barker in the lead. But when Barker elected to take his penalty turn at the top mark, Canfield surged ahead, and never let go; taking the win and the series.
Canfield joins sailing legends Gavin Brady, Peter Holmberg, and Rod Davis as a four-time winner of the Crimson Blazer. Returning to the podium to hoist the Congressional Cup were his crew of Mike Buckley, Ian Coleman, Victor Diaz de Leon, Dan Morris, George Peet, and Erik Shampain.
TAYLOR CANFIELD – TEAM US ONE
“This feels amazing,” said Canfield after his victory. “We brought a great team here; we knew it was going to be hard. We struggled a bit earlier in the week, but kept pushing hard, and getting faster and faster. That was the biggest thing for us. The boys put in a huge effort and got me out of some tough spots, and we kept getting better and better. No doubt, by the end of the week, I think we sailed the boat best, and were the fastest team out there.”
The winner of the Congressional Cup is awarded the coveted Crimson Blazer – similar in status to golfing’s Masters Green Jacket. Donning the blazer in front of the cheering crowd at LBYC’s pool deck, Canfield added, “This is an incredible event, as always. I cannot thank the club enough, and all the volunteers, organizers and umpires. It’s you guys who make the event so special to us.” In addition to the trophy, Team US One receives $16,000 in prize money.
DEAN BARKER – AMERICAN MAGIC
“We’ve had an amazing time here, really happy to get back into it,” said Barker. “Coming together as a new group, I’m very proud of the result; it’s a great start for New York Yacht Club and American Magic,” referring to their challenge for the 36th America’s Cup.
“It was definitely disappointing to lose the final, after sailing so well. Today wasn’t our best day. But overall we were very pleased with how we’ve been going, and to find ourselves back in and competitive after such a long break away.” Earlier in the week, Barker admitted it’s been over a dozen years since he’s competed in the match racing circuit, adding, “Match racing has changed a lot, with the use of spinnakers at the start. We’re still improving and getting more confident every day.”
“We’ve had a great time here,” Barker continued. “It would have been nice to come out on the right end of it all, but we just made a couple too many mistakes today. Hats off to Taylor and his crew.”
TERRY HUTCHINSON – AMERICAN MAGIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
“Unfortunately today it didn’t quite roll our way in the end, but high marks to the guys on board for sailing a great two regattas. We applied pressure all the way through, and when pressure was applied to us, we responded.”
“Congratulations to Taylor’s team for closing it out today. They sailed a really solid series against us.”
“Looking at the big picture, if we were our best just three months into a new program, it’d be a little bit disappointing.” American Magic is “still in its infancy,” Hutchinson reminded. “It’s great after 13 years, to come back into it so well, and look at it as a glass half full, and try to set ourselves up for the long-term. The beautiful thing is we’ll do a lot of self-analysis, and get better from there. It’s all very exciting.”
SAM GILMOUR – NEPTUNE RACING TEAM
“The guys really dug deep, it’s been a great week,” said Gilmour, who admitted he had been, “really going for the Crimson Blazer,” pointing to Barker, Canfield and Berntsson, saying, “You guys already have one in your closet!”
“We appreciate the support of the club and everyone who puts so many hours into organizing this. We look forward to being back.”
ERIC DICKINSON – CONGRESSIONAL CUP CHAIRMAN
Chairman Eric Dickinson said a “perfect storm” of spectacular sailing conditions, superior competition, and expanded media platform, combined to make the 2018 Congressional Cup an “overwhelming success.”
“This is the best, most breeze we’ve had in years. We’re back to a 10-boat format, with nobody waiting in the wings and no boat swaps, so everything is running smoothly. And being able to do live streaming has made an incredible difference. The buzz is incredible.”
LBYC’S Congressional Cup regatta is the first event of its kind to highlight Samsung’s 360-degree cameras with the Virtual Reality headsets.
“The coverage has ramped up the member experience, and our fans really seem to like it. Plus we’re getting it out to the masses, and the metrics show we’re attracting a younger audience to the sport.”
Dickinson’s vision for state-of-the-art viewing, both live and virtual, began even before he started his ascent up the ladder to 2018 Chairman. “I had five years to try to plan it,” he said. “I had the vision; but I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”
“Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.”
He said the scope of the project was immense, but Geoffrey Talbot, LBYC’s Media and Communications Director, stepped up to the plate. “We would not have had this overwhelming success without the outstanding team of professionals he put together.”
Coverage utilizes 3D and other state of the art cameras, shooting from various platforms and angles, to broadcast live stream on Facebook and YouTube simultaneously. Plus there are video highlights and features, and live commentary.
Dickinson applauded his Executive Team, saying, “each of those members make a five year commitment – as do their families.” He also recognized the 300-plus volunteers who help organize, host and run the Congressional Cup each year. “It’s not easy, rallying 300 volunteers, every year … for 54 years!” he laughed.
And yet LBYC has continued to put on world-class event that competitors agreed is, “Second to none. That’s the reason we come back,” as Steele put it.
“We couldn’t do this, without the incredible contributions and dedication of our sponsors and volunteers,” Dickinson pointed out. Such as Beverly Shafer – a 30-year member of LBYC, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 88. A community icon, after her retirement Shafer stepped in to work with her children Denny and Denise, at their popular Alamitos Bay restaurant Schooner or Later.
Shafer was busy delegating tasks up until her passing; reminding Schooner or Later’s head chef of a commitment she’d made to LBYC. “Don’t forget the muffins for Congressional Cup.” And those muffins were indeed in the breakfast buffet served the racers, officials and volunteers, at Congressional Cup 2018.
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. This annual competition for the prestigious Congressional Cup trophy and Crimson Blazer features an elite delegation of the world’s best sailors competing in five days of rousing matches, in the waters off Long Beach.
FINAL RESULTS: CONGRESSIONAL CUP 2018
Taylor Canfield USA
Dean Barker USA
Sam Gilmour AUS
Johnie Berntsson SWE
Ian Williams GBR
Joachim Aschenbrenner DEN
Eric Monnin SUI
Scott Dickson USA
Chris Steele NZL
Harry Price AUS
Visit www.thecongressionalcup.com for video archives of the action, with commentary by celebrity announcer Tucker Thompson, with Leo Takahashi and Josh Wijohn; and
feature segments by Australian Producer/Actress Camilla Jackson
Racing continues off Belmont Pier today for the Crimson Blazer
LONG BEACH, CALIF 21 APRIL 2018 – – Does Ficker make you quicker?
Stage One of the 54th Congressional Cup regatta wrapped up with the final two races of Round Robins, advancing Dean Barker (USA), Taylor Canfield (USA), Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and Sam Gilmour (AUS) to the semi-finals.
Racing concludes tomorrow Sunday April 22, in this World Sailing Grade One Match Race event, hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club.
Both Barker and Berntsson had qualified for Congressional Cup through the Ficker Cup regatta last weekend. A Grade Two regatta, the Ficker Cup is prestigious in its own right, but also a stepping stone to the Congressional Cup; with the top two advancing to this week’s competition. It was founded in 1980 to honor Bill Ficker, a legendary yachtsman who helmed Intrepid to victory in the 1970 America’s Cup, spawning the slogan ‘Ficker is Quicker.’
“We haven’t match raced for a long, long time,” admitted Barker, whose American Magic team represents the New York Yacht Club’s challenge for the 36th America’s Cup. Ficker Cup, he said, “was without question a great opportunity for our team to practice, spend time together and dust out a bit of the rust.”
That training has paid off, as Barker dominated the Congressional Cup; today relinquishing today only his second loss of the series, to fellow Ficker Cup player Berntsson.
STAGE ONE, AND DONE
The final two flights of the Round Robin series were raced under hazy skies and a blustery breeze that waned as the day wore on.
Coming into Saturday after a successful Day Three, Ian Williams (GBR) stood just one point out of contention for semi-finals, with two decisive races to go.
Already, rival Harry Price’s (AUS) destiny was set; out of striking range of Stage Two, as was Scott Dickson (USA), Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN), Eric Monnin (SUI), and Chris Steele (NZL).
But Williams was still in the hunt. If he could win both races, and Gilmour or Berntsson lost theirs, the semis were in his sights.
In Flight 16, on the first downwind leg, Price and Williams were bow to bow; but Williams outwitted Price at the gate to take the lead. Splitting the course on the second downwind run, Price covered and began to reel Williams in. But Williams, leeward, pressed him past the layline; hoisting a jib for the final stretch of the ‘downwind’ leg, to capture that win.
In his final match of the day, however, Williams succumbed to Canfield after sailing into slightly lighter air; propelling Canfield into second place, with 13-5.
Meanwhile Barker and Berntsson had a “dramatic” match, with Barker’s start less aggressive than normal – perhaps as he already had his spot in the semis sewn up. But as the match progressed, the tacking duels began, and the racing heated up. By the final downwind leg, Barker forced Berntsson to the pin end of the line; a deliberate infringement on Barker earned Berntsson a red flag penalty. Still continuing to battle, both pros spun upwind with their spinnakers aloft, creating a tangle of wayward kites. Barker’s team, penalized for not keeping clear, watched as Berntsson dumped their chute and slipped across the line. “The drama was at the 120-percent level,” Berntsson said, “complete mayhem.”
Despite that loss, Barker completed the series with an impressive 16-2 record. “It was a tough double Round Robin, with a lot of very close races, but we came out on the right side of a lot of them,” said Barker. “We learned some very good lessons. Going into the semis, I’m very confident we can keep stringing good races together.”
Canfield finished 13-5; while Berntsson and Gilmour edged out Williams, each 12-6.
A haze of warm tropical air settled over San Pedro Bay as the semi-finals commenced. Canfield bested Berntsson in their first match, while Barker clashed with Gilmour. In a fierce bout, which celebrity commentator Tucker Thompson called a ‘trans-Tasman battle,’ Barker attacked Gilmour, who was struggling with an hourglassed spinnaker in the pre-start. “It’s like a cat toying with his prey,” Thompson winced, as Barker continued dizzying attacks on Gilmour, winning the start. Although Gilmour was able to shake it off and recover, Barker continued to extend his lead and finished nearly a minute ahead of his young rival.
Racing will continue tomorrow, with the first to three points advancing to the finals of the Congressional Cup. Petit-final races will also be held to determine third and fourth place, while the balance of the teams compete in a fleet race around the Bay.
HOW TO WATCH
Enjoy stadium viewing of the Congressional Cup free at Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, 15 39th Place, Long Beach, Calif. Parking, facilities and food service are available.
Live commentary on-site, by celebrity announcer Tucker Thompson, is accompanied by large screen TVs highlighting multiple camera angles, including 360-degree Samsung Virtual Reality camera footage from the race boats; and feature segments by Australian Producer/Actress Camilla Jackson, for a fully immersive and entertaining experience. Racing and commentary is 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 competition for the prestigious Congressional Cup trophy and Crimson Blazer features an elite delegation of the world’s best sailors competing in five days of rousing matches, in the waters off Long Beach, Calif.
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.
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).
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.
“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.
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.
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 …”
“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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.