Please select your home edition
Edition
Cyclops 2020 - SmartlinkNano - LEADERBOARD

Stars+Stripes win the 56th Congressional Cup

by Betsy Senescu 19 Sep 22:08 PDT 14-19 September 2021
Team Stars Stripes win the 56th Congressional Cup © Bronny Daniels

Taylor Canfield's (USA) Team Stars+Stripes has triumphed in the 56th Congressional Cup at Long Beach Yacht Club, capping five-days of high-test competition in this World Match Racing Tour championship event: and making Canfield the winningest skipper in the 56-year history of the Cup.

Said Canfield, of his fifth Congressional Cup victory, "It's incredible, but it feels just like every other win. Fantastic! And to win with the Stars+Stripes Team again: I'm on top of the world." Racing with Canfield was Mike Buckley, CEO of Stars+Stripes, plus Mac Agnese, Leo Boucher, Victor Diaz De Leon, George Peet and Erik Shampain.

Canfield attributed the victory to "sticking to our plan."

"Our goal is to always get better throughout the week. We had some difficult moments and some tough debriefs about how we could continue to get better, and that makes us stronger in the end."

"And we like to keep the umpires out of the game," Canfield added. "I think we had only one penalty over the week."

Aggressive maneuvers and resultant penalties oft proved to be the demise of Canfield's rivals. Advancing to the semi-final round for the first time in his eight Congressional Cup history, Eric Monnin (SUI) won his initial match against Canfield. But the Capvis Swiss Match Race Team bowed to Canfield in the next three bouts, including one black flagged match. In the petite finals, Monnin beat Chris Poole (USA) in the best-of-three series, to capture his first podium finish in his Congressional Cup career. Members noted Monnin and his bride Ute Wagner are probably the first husband-wife team to podium in the Cup.

Poole (USA) and Johnie Berntsson (SWE) entered the day 2-2 with one match left in the semi-finals: a winner-take-all to advance. In the vigorous pre-start Poole, failed to keep clear and received a penalty he couldn't exonerate before the finish, bowing to Berntsson.

Then it was Canfield versus Berntsson in the finals. It was the lightest day of the series, with patchy, more southerly breezes of 7 knots, adding to the complexity and challenge of match racing. Stars+Stripes swept the series with three wins in a row. Berntsson captured his fourth second place win in 15 years of Congressional Cup racing. The 2009 winner of the Crimson Blazer, Berntsson remains a crowd favorite at host LBYC.

Canfield commended the level of competition at the event. "It was great to come and beat an incredible field of sailors, including some great up-and-coming young guys," Canfield added. "But at 32, I think I've got a few more years left in me," he said with a laugh.

Scores of spectators had gathered on Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier to watch the spectacle, which included a fleet race for those teams not making the semis. That race was won by Jeffrey Petersen (USA), who is the current United States Youth Match Racing Champion and Governors Cup champion. Petersen is the youngest competing skipper, at 19, and had 13-year-old Madison Mansour, a LBYC Junior, doing main and tactics for the win.

"These have been some of Long Beach's finest days: blue skies, breeze, flat water - it's one of the reasons sailors want to come here. Another reason, Chris Macy, Congressional Cup's 2021 chairman pointed out, is that Congressional Cup is historically on the cutting edge of yacht racing.

"You definitely saw them out there pushing hard," said Macy. "They're coming in to the umpires, conferring about the calls and moves, and how they can find new advantages - constantly crafting their skills. And we have some of the world's most knowledgeable umpires on the team. To watch the world's finest umpires and the world's finest sailors talk about how to create these infinitesimal advantages and gains, within the rules... LBYC continues to advance the sport of match racing - just like we did with pioneering on-the-water umpiring, which is now the norm."

Persevering through the pandemic was a challenge Macy added. "Daily!"

"In the last month there were hourly phone calls with fleet surgeons, medical professionals, competitors and officials. Ultimately, we ended up pulling off this fantastic event: great racing, social events, and spectacular weather."

Pushing back the event to September - versus the normal springtime schedule - proved to be "kismet," according to Macy. "When I chose my logo design, I was looking for that beach town vibe of 'Endless Summer.' Little did I realize that when the event was postponed, it would make our theme so much more relevant. The conditions have been absolutely fantastic."

For more than a half-century, LBYC has organized this five-day premier regatta, known as the 'grandfather of match racing.' Organizers at LBYC revolutionized the game of match racing with the introduction of on-the-water umpiring, with competitors racing a fleet of custom one-design Catalina 37 keelboats that put the emphasis on strategy and skill.

In 2000, the World Match Racing Tour was founded and the Congressional Cup, already in it's 45th year, became one of its flagship championship events. The WMRT links the best match racing events in the world, all independently organized and run by promoters and yacht clubs like LBYC, under one umbrella.

Last year, due to pandemic restrictions, only one of three championship events was held, the Bermuda Gold Cup, according to Executive Director James Pleasance.

"This year, through the hard work of the LBYC and Congressional Cup Executive Team, and US Sailing, we are delighted the Congressional Cup was able to happen; and we have seen some splendid racing!"

Pleasance went on to say the Congressional Cup results will carry extra weight for skippers this year, with so few events running. "The points really do count this week, toward the WMRT Finals in Shenzhen, China. The top eight teams here will be qualified for that December event, which carries a $200K prize purse!" announced Pleasance.

Congressional Cup has long been established as the gateway to America's Cup, and this year served as development and training for Stars+Stripes, according to Canfield and Buckley. Recently, they held an open match racing training camp in Long Beach to foster national talent, with a focus on inclusivity.

"We like to talk about the 10 skippers, but without the 60 crew, the skippers would be sailing lasers. This is one of the drums we're beating," Buckley pointed out. "It's cool to see diversity happen authentically on some of these teams, but we've got to start breaking the barriers and laying more groundwork: to provide opportunities and role models."

Chris Macy officiated as Chair of the 2021 Congressional Cup assisted by Executive Committee members Lisa Meier, Bob Piercy, Steve Meyer, and Tony Mansour, plus LBYC Commodore Jon Shull. Principal Race Officer for the event was Randy Smith and officiated by Chief Umpire Flavio Naveira with a team of 14 international umpires.

Complete results are available at www.matchracingresults.com/2021/congressional-cup

For details on Congressional Cup go to thecongressionalcup.com; visit wmrt.com for details on the WMRT.

Related Articles

Shaking it up at Congressional Cup
Poole joins Canfield, Berntsson & Monnin in semis It wasn't just the sudden 4.3 earthquake that shook things up at the Congressional Cup this weekend. The spirited racing, which had started Wednesday Sept. 15, found five skippers battling for the final spot in the semi-final round. Posted on 19 Sep
Top 3 set at the 56th Congressional Cup
4th berth up for grabs in the Semi Finals Today the top three skippers racing in the 56th Congressional Cup regatta at Long Beach Yacht Club here cemented their positions in the semi-finals, but the battle is still waging for fourth place and who will advance to the next stage. Posted on 18 Sep
Dynamic day 2 at the 56th Congressional Cup
Rust shaken off as the racers surge into full form It was evident today, on Day Two of the Congressional Cup regatta here, that racers have shaken off any dust or rust caused by the pandemic pause and surged into full form. Posted on 17 Sep
Canfield leads on day 1 of 56th Congressional Cup
Ten of the world's top match racing teams competing in stellar conditions The 56th Congressional Cup is under way, with 10 of the world's top match racing teams competing in stellar conditions off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier here today. Posted on 16 Sep
Long Beach Yacht Club Congressional Cup is a 'go'
"We're T-minus two-weeks and counting!" Despite last-minute roster changes and protocol requirements, Macy revealed, "There's a definite buzz at the Club: you can feel the energy building and the excitement, that after two and one half years - this is really happening!" Posted on 4 Sep
Congressional Cup: Volunteer run, volunteer fun
One of the most popular events in the eyes of the pro athletes With just six weeks to go 'til the start of the 56th Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club has rallied the troops and organized an army of volunteers to orchestrate this world-renowned competition, slated for September 14 to 19, 2021. Posted on 6 Aug
Congressional Cup returns with a splash
Top-ranked roster set for Long Beach Yacht Club in September The excitement of Congressional Cup racing will return to Long Beach Yacht Club September 14 to 19, 2021 when the world's leading match racing skippers compete for this venerated trophy and the prized Crimson Blazer. Posted on 28 May
New dates for 56th Congressional Cup
Long Beach Yacht Club's flagship match racing event now to be held in November Congressional Cup Chairman Chris Macy has announced the 2021 event will be postponed to mid-September in light of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery. Posted on 15 Jan
56th Congressional Cup dates set
Grade One Match Racing competition to be held in May 2021 Founded and hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club since 1965, the Grade One competition is known as the 'grandfather of match racing' and pioneer of on-the-water umpiring that is the standard in yacht racing today. Posted on 28 Sep 2020
2020 Congressional Cup canceled
Long Beach Yacht Club's signature event will return in 2021 Long Beach Yacht Club has canceled the 2020 Congressional Cup regatta, which had been slated to begin April 2020 and postponed to mid-October. Posted on 12 Jun 2020
Sea Sure 2021 - FLO - FOOTERSOUTHERN-SPARS-OFFICIAL-SUPPLIER-52-SS728-X-90 BottomHella Dual Colour Floodlights - 728 x 90px - 1 jpg Bottom