Congressional Cup: Final four set for Final day

Published on May 16th, 2015

Long Beach, CA (May 16, 2015) – A ‘repechage’ is defined as a trial heat that gives first-round losers a last-ditch opportunity to qualify. The word comes from the French term for ‘second chance’ – and a second chance is just what Ian Williams needed to get back in the game, and in the line-up for a chance at the 2015 Congressional Cup.

Williams, the current ISAF Match Racing World Champion and two-time Congressional Cup winner, found himself uncharacteristically in the bottom half of the pack after three days of round robins in Congressional Cup racing. While the top six contenders – Taylor Canfield, Reuben Corbett, Phil Robertson, Joachim Aschenbrenner, Bjorn Hansen and Chris Steele – qualified automatically for the quarterfinals, Williams was in a battle with Keith Swinton, Scott Dickson, Przemysław Tarnacki, Eric Monnin and Dustin Durant, for one of two remaining slots.

But Williams used that second chance to fight back – and fight hard – winning the repechage and a spot in the quarterfinals. Now, after winning eight races in a row, he will compete in the semifinals Sunday, May 17, against Canfield, Robertson and Hansen.

“We’re sailing pretty well,” said Williams, who admitted, “We got a little stitched up to be in the repechage, to be honest.” But he viewed the added matches as a chance for a little more practice, and even joked about it, saying “We thought we’d slip ourselves in to the repechage, to get our full quota of races in.”

Swinton was the eighth and final competitor to make it to the quarterfinals.

In that, best three of five series, Canfield elected to race against Aschenbrenner, while Robertson chose Ficker Cup winner Steele, saying, “we won Ficker Cup last year and did terrible in the Congressional Cup, so maybe that’ll work in our favor.” Corbett chose Hansen, leaving Swinton and Williams to duke it out.

Today’s breeze from the southeast started strong. The wind direction as it was turned the race course nearly 180 degrees, and put the start and finish line right beneath the noses of the hundreds of spectators enjoying the view from Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

Racing was close, and aggressive, with several collisions and ten protests, according to Chief Umpire Alfredo Ricci. In the end Canfield triumphed over Aschenbrenner 3-0, likewise Robertson was 3-0 over Steele. Swinton (0-3) fell to Williams, saying, “Ian gave us a bit of a schooling.”

But the contest between Corbett and Hansen went the full five matches, each with two wins before the final sudden death match in the late afternoon. Following the match was a Pro-Am fleet race back to Long Beach Yacht Club; the Congressional Cup Umpires finished a triumphant second (of nine).

“It was really close racing,” said Hansen of his match with Corbett. In the waning breeze, he said, “It was very costly to make tacks, which means you kept it down to a minimum. So it was really a matter of getting the start you wanted, and then committing to the side you wanted. Sometimes it was right, and sometimes it was wrong, but luckily for us it was right more times than wrong.”

Hansen will be paired with Canfield, and Williams with Robertson, in the semifinals which begin Sunday at 1130, beneath expected sunny skies and WSW winds of 10 knots, at Congressional Cup Stadium: a federally designated area of Long Beach’s outer harbor. The Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier offers ideal spectator viewing of the course, with bleachers, with live commentary, and food and drink vendors.

Repechage Round
Williams 5-0
Swinton 4-1
Monnin 2-3
Dickson 2-3
Tarnacki 1-4
Durant 1-4

Williams 3, Swinton 0
Robertson 3, Steele 0
Canfield 3, Aschenbrenner 0
Hansen 3, Corbett 2

Additional information: Congressional CupWorld Match Racing Tour

Report by Event Media

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.

The winning skipper of the Congressional Cup is awarded the coveted Crimson Blazer, an honor bestowed to the top names in sailing over the years, including Ken Read, Gavin Brady, Dennis Conner, Ted Turner, Dean Barker, and more.

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