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Countdown to the Congressional Cup 2018

by CC Media 19 Mar 2018 06:45 PDT 17-22 April 2018
Congressional Cup at Long Beach day 4 © Ian Roman / WMRT

With just one month to Long Beach Yacht Club's 54th Congressional 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 honour 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.

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)
For more information visit www.thecongressionalcup.com

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