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.
Johnie Berntsson takes second, to fill Ficker Cup roster
LONG BEACH, CALIF 15 April 2018 – Dean Barker, USA, dominated the 2018 Ficker Cup, to win this Grade Two World Sailing regatta, and advance to the Congressional Cup, which runs Wednesday April 16 to 22, 2018.
Also qualifying for Congressional Cup is Johnie Berntsson, SWE, who finished second in the three-day regatta, which was founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1980 to honor legendary yachtsman Bill Ficker.
Barker was nearly undefeated in Ficker Cup, logging an impressive 13-1 record in the Round Robins. His only loss was to Dave Hood, USA: a Staff Commodore at LBYC and winner of the recent California Dreamin’ stop, who used his local knowledge advantage to call a shift to the right side of the course.
But from that point on, Barker was unstoppable, dispatching Leonard Takahashi, JAP, in the semi-finals 3-0; and crushing Berntsson 3-0 in the finals.
“I’m not sure when we stopped match racing,” Barker said; speculating the 2005 Congressional Cup event, which he won, “could be one of the last match racing events I’ve done.” But he certainly hasn’t lost his touch, as evidenced by his steady, cool-headed performance on the waters of Long Beach.
Sunday delivered a chilly and shifty sea breeze beneath hazy skies. As a backdrop to the racing was the pervasive buzz of Long Beach Grand Prix racing, downtown.
After Barker defeated Berntsson in the final of the Round Robins; he swiftly dispatched Leonard Takahashi, JAP, in the semi-finals; while Berntsson eliminated Chris Poole, USA, 3-0.
In the petit finals, Poole, a late addition to Ficker Cup, placed third, after a 2-1 finish over Takahashi, but admitted he had been mildly surprised to make it to the semis. “Honestly, when we came out here, and our practice day was cut short due to heavy winds, and one of our crew wasn’t here yet, I didn’t think we’d be here,” he said.
In a series fraught with fouls – including a black flag disqualification – he said, “Looking back, there’s a little more work to be done, to find that extra gear that Johnie seems to have found.”
Takahashi, finish fourth, said, “I’m still trying to figure out how we got into a position to get to race Dean Barker. It was truly a humbling experience, and I’m thankful to Dean for giving us a lesson.”
“He’s a great sailor; the whole team’s been looking up to him for years,” added Takahashi, who is just 19 years old. “I’m honored to be able to race against him, and all these guys here.”
Berntsson’s advancement marks his tenth entry into the Congressional Cup. Winner of the Crimson Blazer in 2009, he finished second last year.
At the prizegiving at LBYC, Deon Macdonald, daughter of the late Bill Ficker, was on hand to present the esteemed Ficker Cup to Barker.
“It’s an honor to win the trophy named after Bill Ficker,” Barker remarked. “It’s been a fantastic week, it feels a little like coming home to Long Beach.” Barker has competed in three prior Congressional Cup regattas, winning the trophy in 2000 and 2005.
“This has been a fantastic opportunity for our American Magic team to go sailing in a competitive environment; and get back into the match racing game. It’s great for the soul to do this kind of racing, and race against these guys here.”
Both Barker, and tactician Terry Hutchinson, are past Congressional Cup winners, (Barker, 2005 and 2009; Hutchinson, 1992) and America’s Cup veterans, kingpins in NYYC’s American Magic campaign to challenge for the AC in 2021. Other crew members are James Baxter, James Dagg, Sean Clarkson, Greg Gendell, and James Lyne, with Jennifer Tille on logistics.
THE CONGRESSIONAL CUP
Congressional Cup racing runs Wednesday April 16 through Sunday April 22, beginning at roughly 11:30AM in the waters off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, where spectators can enjoy commentary and camaraderie as they watch the competition. It is hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club, one of the nation’s premiere boating institutions since its founding in 1929. It is located at 6201 E. Appian Way in Long Beach, Calif. For complete information on Congressional Cup please visit www.thecongressionalcup.com
LONG BEACH, CALIF 14 April 2018 – The breeze on Day Two of the Ficker Cup may have been shifty, but “steady” was the name of the game for Dean Barker and team American Magic, as they clung to the top of the leaderboard, with six wins and no losses in the series’ second Round Robin.
The Ficker Cup is a World Sailing Grade Two regatta – prestigious in its own right, but significant as a stepping stone to the Congressional Cup. Founded in 1980 to honor Bill Ficker, a legendary yachtsman who helmed Intrepid to victory in the 1970 America’s Cup and won the Congressional Cup in 1974, it offers world-class match racing action in an equalized fleet of one-design Catalina 37s yachts.
And today, all eyes were on the scoreboard, as Dean Barker, USA, solidified his first place position and advancement to the semi-finals tomorrow, along with Johnie Berntsson, SWE, 5-1. Chris Poole, USA, and Leonard Takahashi, JAP, both 3-3, also proceed to the semis – edging out competitor and LBYC Staff Commodore Dave Hood, defeated in the tie-breaker.
Ficker Cup racing will continue tomorrow Sunday April 15 at approximately 11:30AM off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, where spectators can watch the action live. While today’s breeze built to 11 knots from the southwest, tomorrow’s forecast is for slightly lighter wind conditions.
The top two Ficker Cup finalists will advance to the Congressional Cup, the ‘granddaddy’ of modern world-class match racing, founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1965.
“What The Masters Green Jacket is to pro golfing, the Crimson Blazer is to yacht racing,” explained Congressional Cup Chairman Eric Dickinson. “The Congressional Cup is one of the most prestigious yacht racing events in the world and a gateway to the America’s Cup; and the members of Long Beach Yacht Club are proud to present this premier event for the 54th year.”
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.