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SailGP, One Design, Congressional Cup, and offshore racing news

by David Schmidt 26 Apr 08:00 PDT April 26, 2022
Canada SailGP Team announces partnership with Algorand © Canada SailGP Team

The (foiling) wake may have barely settled on San Francisco Bay after Tom Slingsby and his Australian SailGP Team took top honors at the Mubadala United States Sail Grand Prix event (March 26-27, 2022) and won the $1M+ prize purse at the SailGP's Season 2 Grand Final (March 27), but that certainly isn't stopping SailGP teams from making headlines about Season 3. For North American sailors, the shiny object is the launch of the Canada SailGP team, which was announced last fall and which is being led by CEO Jean-Sébastien Chénier Proteau (CAN) and driver Phil Robertson (NZL). Now, more details of the team's line-up have emerged.

On April 21, the Canada SailGP team announced that their on-the-water team will be comprised of Robertson on the wheels, Tom Ramshaw on tactics and grinding, Billy Gooderham and Luke Ramsay on the flight controls, Graeme Sutherland on wing trim, Isabella Bertold and Georgia Lewin-Lafrance on co-pilot and strategist duties, and Tim Hornsby and Jareese Finch on the grinding pedestals. The team will be coached by Joe Glanfield.

"Phil knows what it takes to bring a new team up to speed and has done it successfully twice," said Chénier Proteau in an official team communication. "Canada won't be an exception—we have amazingly talented sailors, yet very little foiling experience. It's the team's vision that the Canada SailGP Team changes this, and that it truly is the catalyst for sailing across the country."

While there's no question that the Canada SailGP team is poised to introduce a new generation of Canadian sailors to sailing 2.0, there's also no question that the fledgling team has little time to find their foils before the Bermuda SailGP event (May 14-15) and the start of Season 3's nine-event racing calendar.

"I can't wait to start training this week in Bermuda with the Canadian team," said Robertson in the team's release. "We have a few days practicing alongside the Swiss team before we get our own F50 for the event. It'll be a baptism of fire for our team and it's a challenge that excites me. We have a great bunch of recruits, so now it is all about taking the small steps forward at a rapid pace."

Sail-World wishes Robertson, Chénier Proteau, and the rest of the Canada SailGP good luck as they get up to speed racing their F50.

Speaking of top Canadian sailors, Sarah Douglas, the Laser Radial (sorry, "ILCA 6") phenom from Toronto, will be racing this week at the French Olympic Week competition in Hyères, France (April 25-30). Douglas enters this regatta with momentum: she took home a gold medal from the Trofeo Sofía Mallorca April 1-9, 2022) and a sixth-place finish at the Japan 2020 Olympics.

"I'm looking forward to the second European event of the season," said Douglas in an official Sail Canada release. "I've just spent the past week training in Marseille, at the 2024 Olympic sailing venue, and learning more about it and the conditions. A majority of the top sailors will be there for French Olympic Week and I'm excited to wrap up this Europe trip with another high-caliber regatta."

Sliding south of the border, US Sailing recently announced their team roster for this same regatta. The official US Sailing Team for this high-level One Design event will be Ian Barrows and Hans Henken, Andrew Mollerus and Ian MacDiarmid, and Nevin Snow and Mac Agnese in the 49er; Markus Edegran on the Men's Formula Kite; Daniela Moroz on the Women's Formula Kite; Sarah Newberry and David Liebenberg on the Nacra 17; Louisa Nordstrom and Trevor Bornarth in the 470, and Steph Roble and Maggie Shea in the 49erFX.

Sail-World wishes all of these athletes good luck in their upcoming events.

In match-racing news, the 57th Congressional Cup (April 18-23) recently unfurled on the waters off of Long Beach, California, and saw skipper Ian Williams and his Team Gladstone's Long Beach crew of Matt Cornwell, Andrew Estcourt, Jon Gunderson, Steve Mitchell and Richard Sydenham beat skipper Taylor Canfield and his Team Stars+Stripes 3-1 to take home top honors.

Impressively, this was the fifth time that Williams donned the famous crimson blazer that's awarded to the winner of this high-level match racing event. Even more impressive is the fact that Williams defeated a skipper who also has five crimson blazers hanging in his closet.

"I was devastated not to be here last year; and even more gutted now that I remember what I missed," said Williams in an official event communication, referring to the 2021 event that he missed due to Covid restrictions. "I wanted to try to be the first to five wins so it feels fantastic now to have matched Taylor. What a great competitor: to match him is fantastic; I guess now it's a race to six!"

In offshore news, word broke last week that IMOCA skipper Paul Meilhat (FRA) will compete in the 2023 edition of The Ocean Race aboard the brand-new Verdier-drawn IMOCA 60 Biotherm, which is currently under construction and is expected to encounter brine in August.

"Everything about The Ocean Race excites me," said Meilhat in an official release. "It's about the sport, but it's also about travelling around the world and being able to discover other countries and create links with new people; all of this is great and I'm keen to feel the full story of one of the great events in our sport."

Meilhat, it should be noted, was the 2021 IMOCA Globe Series campion and is a past winner of the Roue du Rhum and the Fastnet Race. According to reports, Meilhat also plans to compete singlehanded aboard Biotherm in the 2024-2025 edition of the Vendee Globe.

"The new format of The Ocean Race matches perfectly with our current IMOCA program and schedule," continued Meilhat. "It's one of the great races which is consistent with what we do and which has the advantage of taking us to the Southern Ocean, sailing in difficult and challenging conditions, which helps us develop our boats and ourselves as sailors."

Meilhat and his Biotherm program now join a confirmed short list of IMOCA entries in the 2023 edition of The Ocean Race that includes Boris Herrmann's Team Malizia and Charlie Enright's 11th Hour Racing Team.

Finally, much closer to home, owner Manouch Moshayedi and his Rio 100 crew crushed the course record in the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race (April 22) by 2 hours, 33 minutes and 17 seconds—not a bad gain on a track that's only 125 nautical miles. Rio 100's unofficial finishing time was just 7 hours, two minutes and 17 seconds, which is now the number to beat for monohull sailors.

Interestingly, Rio 100's navigator, Peter Isler, now finds himself holding the course record for both monohulls and multihulls in the Newport to Ensenada Race, having successfully helped lead the MOD70 Orion to a new course record in the 2016 edition of this West Coast classic.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt North American Editor

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