Countdown to Congressional Cup 2017
Published on March 19th, 2017
World class match racing comes to the USA with the 53rd running of the Congressional Cup regatta in Long Beach, CA. As the second stop in the 2017 World Match Racing Tour, top sailing talent from around the globe will complete in the waters off of Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier on March 28 to April 2.
The Congressional Cup is the ‘granddaddy of match racing’ – an innovator in the game of match racing since 1965, and pioneer in on-the-water umpiring since 1988. With a reputation for warm hospitality and hot action, an invitation to the Congressional Cup is one of the most sought-after in the world of sailing.
The 2017 line-up includes defending champion Taylor Canfield, ISV (World Sailing ranked no. 1) – with a trio of back-to-back Congressional Cup wins; reigning Match Racing World Champion Phil Robertson, NZL (no. 9); past winners Ian Williams, GBR (no. 4), and Johnie Berntsson, SWE (no. 56); plus Nicolai Sehested, DEN (no. 37) – who nearly toppled Canfield in last year’s finals.
Also looking to topple the form guide are Sam Gilmour, AUS (no. 2); Harry Price, AUS, (no. 3); Chris Steele, NZL (no. 6); Joachim Aschenbrenner, DEN (no. 12); Eric Monnin, SUI (no. 13); and two yet-unnamed contestants, to be determined in next week’s Ficker Cup Grade Two qualifier.
After a succession of winter storms partially closed Belmont Pier and curtailed the elaborate and festive viewing platform which has been the standard for the last decade, Congressional Cup 2017 Chairman Joe Seibert declares the pier is open to spectators. “The pier provides the best viewing of the race course. Bring a chair and come on down!”
Racing, to be held in the Catalina 37s, will be “business as usual” Seibert added, with a single round robin, knock-out round, and quarter finals racing commencing Wednesday March 29, and culminating with semi-finals, finals and a fleet race Sunday April 2. Races begin at roughly 1130am daily with live streaming action and commentary.
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.
The lead up to the Congressional Cup is the Ficker Cup which was established by Long Beach Yacht Club to honor Bill Ficker, who recently passed at the age of 89. An architect by trade, Ficker was a renowned yachtsman who won the Star Class World Championship in 1958 and helmed Intrepid to victory in the 1970 America’s Cup. Four years later, he won the Congressional Cup.
This year Ficker Cup will be held March 24 through 26, also in the vicinity of Belmont Pier with the top two finalists advancing to the Congressional Cup. For competitor’s list…click here.
Congressional Cup skippers – World Sailing rank
Taylor Canfield, ISV – 1
Sam Gilmour, AUS – 2
Harry Price, AUS – 3
Ian Williams, GBR – 4
Chris Steele, NZL – 6
Phil Robertso,n NZL – 9
Joachim Aschenbrenner, DEN – 12
Eric Monnin, SUI – 13
Nicolai Sehested, DEN – 37
Johnie Berntsson, SWE – 56
Plus the top two finishers in the Ficker Cup
2017 World Championship Level Events:
WMRT Match Cup Australia, March 20-25
WMRT Congressional Cup, March 29-April 2
WMRT Northern Europe, June 6-11 (Venue TBA)
WMRT Match Cup Sweden, July 3-8 (Venue TBA)
WMRT Match Cup USA, August 1-6 (Venue TBA)
WMRT Match Cup America, October 3-8 (Venue TBA)
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
WMRT Match Cup China, November 3-10 (Venue TBA)
Background: In 2013, Swedish company Aston Harald AB acquired the design and production rights to the one-design M32 catamarans. In July 2015, Aston Harald AB acquired the World Match Racing Tour, which then began the use of the M32 during the 2016 Tour. Launched in 2000, the World Match Racing Tour is the leading professional match racing series sanctioned by World Sailing.