LONG BEACH, CALIF 20 APRIL 2018 – –With only two flights left in the 54th Congressional Cup regatta’s Round Robin series – to determine which skippers will advance to the semi-finals – the hard-hitting competition escalated. Dean Barker (USA) and American Magic remained on top, with Taylor Canfield (USA), Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Sam Gilmour (AUS) and Ian Williams (GBR) all within striking distance of qualification.
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.
LONG BEACH, CALIF 14 April 2018 – The breeze on Day Two of the Ficker Cup may have been shifty, but “steady” was the name of the game for Dean Barker and team American Magic, as they clung to the top of the leaderboard, with six wins and no losses in the series’ second Round Robin.
The Ficker Cup is a World Sailing Grade Two regatta – prestigious in its own right, but significant as a stepping stone to the Congressional Cup. Founded in 1980 to honor Bill Ficker, a legendary yachtsman who helmed Intrepid to victory in the 1970 America’s Cup and won the Congressional Cup in 1974, it offers world-class match racing action in an equalized fleet of one-design Catalina 37s yachts.
And today, all eyes were on the scoreboard, as Dean Barker, USA, solidified his first place position and advancement to the semi-finals tomorrow, along with Johnie Berntsson, SWE, 5-1. Chris Poole, USA, and Leonard Takahashi, JAP, both 3-3, also proceed to the semis – edging out competitor and LBYC Staff Commodore Dave Hood, defeated in the tie-breaker.
Ficker Cup racing will continue tomorrow Sunday April 15 at approximately 11:30AM off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, where spectators can watch the action live. While today’s breeze built to 11 knots from the southwest, tomorrow’s forecast is for slightly lighter wind conditions.
The top two Ficker Cup finalists will advance to the Congressional Cup, the ‘granddaddy’ of modern world-class match racing, founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1965.
“What The Masters Green Jacket is to pro golfing, the Crimson Blazer is to yacht racing,” explained Congressional Cup Chairman Eric Dickinson. “The Congressional Cup is one of the most prestigious yacht racing events in the world and a gateway to the America’s Cup; and the members of Long Beach Yacht Club are proud to present this premier event for the 54th year.”
54TH EDITION PROMISES SPECTACLE AND SOME SURPRISES
LONG BEACH, CALIF 19 MARCH 2018 – – With just one month to Long Beach Yacht Club’s 54thCongressional Cup regatta, excitement is building! In addition to an all-star lineup for April 18-22 Congressional Cup racing – including five of the world’s top-ten ranked match racing skippers – the lead-in Ficker Cup regatta promises dazzling action too: with sailing legends Dean Barker and Terry Hutchinson mixing it up with match racing’s most up-and-coming skippers.
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.
This year Ian Williams (GBR) returns to defend his title, against Taylor Canfield (ISV), Harry Price (AUS), Sam Gilmour (AUS), Chris Steele (NZL), Eric Monnin (SUI), Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN), Scott Dickson (USA) and two yet-undecided foes.
Racing will take place starting Wednesday April 18, commencing at approximately 11:30AM daily, at Congressional Cup Stadium off the Belmont Memorial Veterans Pier. The pier offers superb viewing, with live commentary, food and drink vendors, and the camaraderie of other sailing fanatics. 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!
THE FICKER CUP was established in 1980 by the Long Beach Yacht Club to honor Bill Ficker, winning skipper of the 1970 America’s Cup and Star boat champion. A World Sailing Grade Two match racing event, the Ficker Cup is a distinguished competition in its own right, with lively double round robin racing leading up to a series of finals. But, in addition to the esteemed Ficker Cup trophy, this event is a qualifier for Congressional Cup: launching the top two finishers directly into the fray the following week.
That’s how Hutchinson won his Congressional Cup berth in 1992 – and went on to victory. He returns this year with Barker, Congressional Cup winner in 2000 and 2005. Barker and Hutchinson are representing the New York Yacht Club’s recently announced partnership with Bella Mente Quantum Racing Association, established to challenge for the 36th America’s Cup in 2021.
These seasoned pros will be fighting against several promising match racing skippers – including some 20 years their junior, such as Leonard Takahashi – for the right to compete in the Congressional Cup.
Takahashi, a 23-year-old from Japan, swept the Musto International Youth Match Racing Champs World Sailing Grade Two event in December, to earn a Ficker Cup invitation.
But don’t rule out Johnie Berntsson; also competing in Ficker Cup this year in the hopes of an entry into Congressional Cup. Last year, Berntsson was a Congressional Cup invitee: “on fire” according to his rivals, he finished second in the 2017 Congressional Cup, behind six-time match racing World Champion Williams.
All told, April promises to be a month of thrilling world class racing, with three days of Ficker Cup sailing.April 13-15 followed by five days of Congressional Cup racing, April 18-22.
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.
Congressional Cup: Live-streaming on Facebook @CongressionalCup and on the Congressional Cup website at www.thecongressionalcup.com. Coverage will include skipper interviews; results and daily highlights; press conferences and special events will be broadcast on Long Beach PADNET local cable channels. For broadcast schedules and more information visit www.thecongressionalcup.com
CONGRESSIONAL CUP SKIPPERS
Taylor Canfield (ISV)
Ian Williams (GBR)
Harry Price (AUS)
Sam Gilmour (AUS)
Chris Steele (NZL)
Eric Monnin (SUI)
Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN)
Scott Dickson (USA)
FICKER CUP SKIPPERS
Maxime Mesnil (FRA)
Leonard Takahashi (JPN)
Vladimar Lipavsky (RUS)
Peter Holz (USA)
Chris Poole (USA)
Johnie Berntsson (SWE)
Dave Hood (USA)
Dean Barker (USA)
ABOUT CONGRESSIONAL CUP
The Congressional Cup is hosted by the Long Beach Yacht Club, renowned for its outstanding hospitality and organization, utilizing the talents and energy of more than 300 member volunteers to host this Grade One 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.
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.
LONG BEACH, CALIF 31 March 2017 – – In France they call it a “Repêchage.” In America it’s known as a “do-over.” And today, in the world of top-level match racing, it was called “redemption.”
Ian Williams (GBR) – who finished at the bottom of the pack in last year’s Congressional Cup – was off with a vengeance today, winning all of his matches in the Repêchage on day three of this 53-year institution.
Six-time Match Racing World Champion Williams shockingly finished last in the 2016 Congressional Cup, earning the consolation prize: a copy of Arthur Knapp Jr.’s book “Race Your Boat Right.” At the time, he swore his team would return to Congressional Cup this year to “redeem themselves” and that they did: with a stunning streak of seven wins against his top-ranked rivals in today’s series. “The guys did a great job, we had good speed all day. That kept the pressure off, and our noses clean,” explained Williams, who added they were glad for the extra practice time on the boats.
He advances to the Quarter Finals tomorrow along with Scott Dickson (USA), Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN), and Chris Steele (NZL) – who turned the tide, winning five races today: versus three wins total Wednesday and Thursday. Steele returned to the course this morning promising to race, “a little more aggressive, and a little less forgiving,” and ended the day, “feeling very confident.”
After two days of Qualifying, frontrunners Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Taylor Canfield (ISV), Phil Robertson (NZL) and Sam Gilmour (AUS) had secured their spots in Saturday’s Quarter Finals. They got a day off in sunny California, where Congressional Cup racing continues through Sunday April 2.
But the other eight contestants were left to battle it out for the final four berths in the Repêchage: a trial heat which gives first-round losers a last-ditch chance to qualify for the Quarter Finals. Harry Price (AUS), Nicolai Sehested (DEN), Eric Monnin (SUI) and David Storrs (USA) were eliminated in matches sailed in “classic Long Beach conditions” – steady westerly breeze averaging 14 knots. And although Storrs was skunked in the Repêchage, his Pequot Racing Team won in the Junior Congressional Cup: skippered by LBYC junior sailor Trent Turigliatto with Alex Curtiss as crew.
The Congressional Cup is part of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT), an intense round-the-world circuit which kicked off earlier this month in Perth, Australia and concludes in October in China.
“Now it’s the business end of the regatta. Play time is over!” announced WMRT Race Director Craig Mitchell, in preparation for Saturday’s brutal Quarter Final knock-out rounds. The leaderboard is wiped clean: scores return to zero.
Saturday’s pairings are: Berntsson v. Aschenbrenner; Canfield v. Dickson; Robertson v. Gilmour; Williams v. Steele. The first four to reach three points will advance to Semi Finals: vying for the Congressional Cup and coveted Crimson Blazer – an honor bestowed on the top names in sailing over the years, including Dennis Conner, Ed Baird, Ted Turner, Dean Barker, Ken Read, Gavin Brady and more.
Spectators are invited to watch the races off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, on the Congressional Cup Stadium Course: a federally designated area of Long Beach’s outer harbor. The venue offers ideal viewing with live commentary and camaraderie.
ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL CUP
The Congressional Cup features five days of top notch yacht racing at its finest. Founded in 1965 and pioneer of on-the-water umpiring in 1988, he Congressional Cup is regarded as the ‘granddaddy of match racing.’ The event is renowned for its world-class hospitality and organization, utilizing the talents and energy of a unique volunteer force of more than 300 members of LBYC – one of the premier boating institutions in the United States since 1929. The Club and associated Long Beach Sailing Foundation maintain a fleet of identical 37-foot Catalina sloops designed specifically for the event; which guarantees an even platform and exciting competition. Visit www.thecongressionalcup.com for more information.
Repêchage Standings: Day Three of Congressional Cup
Ian Williams – GAC Pindar GBR 7
Chris Steele – 36 Below Racing NZL 5
Scott Dickson – Dickson Racing USA 4
Joachim Aschenbrenner – Aschenbrenner Racing DEN 4
Harry Price – Down Under Racing AUS 3
Eric Monnin – Albert Riele Swiss Team SUI 3
Nicolai Sehested – EWII Racing DEN 2
David Storrs – Pequot Racing USA 0
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.
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.
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.
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.