Unusual weather stalls Congressional Cup

Published on May 15th, 2015

Long Beach, CA (May 15, 2015) – Long Beach Yacht Club, organizers of the Congressional Cup regatta, announced today the cancellation of the second round robin in this prestigious Grade WC match race series, due to uncooperative and unseasonal weather here in Long Beach, CA.

Twelve teams from nine nations are competing for the Congressional Cup title, and the prestigious Crimson Blazer, in racing that began Wednesday May 13. The Congressional Cup is the opening event for the 2015/16 World Match Racing Tour.

“Our original format was to have a double round robin, which is a ton of racing,” said Randy Smith, who has been Principal Race Officer (PRO) for a half dozen years, and previously raced in the event. “The sailors like to get in as much sailing is as possible; some other venues around the world don’t have as many boats as we do; and half the competitors spend their time sitting out, while the other half are sailing.”

The Congressional Cup is sailed in identical 37-foot Catalina sloops designed specifically for the event. LBYC’s Long Beach Sailing Foundation maintains the fleet of 11 boats to an exacting, identical standard in all performance areas: weight, equipment, rig tuning and sails. To ensure fairness, skippers rotate through 10 boats; the eleventh boat is on standby in the event of a collision or failure.

PRO Smith admitted his Race Committee’s goal to get in as much racing as possible was ambitious. “We knew it was an aggressive attempt, and we would need perfect weather to pull it off. We were ahead of the game first day, but yesterday was tough.”

An Arctic front brought unseasonable (some would say ‘shocking’) rain and fluctuating winds across Southern California, ironically, a region experiencing its most severe drought in recorded history. Afternoon races were abandoned.

“We had communications issues due to wet radios, and a lack of wind behind yesterday’s storm. Today’s system is moving down the coast; it’s slowed down and is much larger. Behind the storm is the worse part, the lightest winds, but once that goes by, we’re hoping for enough breeze to get off today’s races.”

At press time Smith was optimistically calling for a 1330 start, saying plans were “to back into something as fair as possible for the competitors.” That involves cancellation of the second round robin. Instead, following the hopeful completion of round robin number one, the top six finishers will advance to the quarterfinals.

“Finishers seven through 12 will compete in a repechage,* explained Smith, “another mini round robin: six boats, five flights, sailing each other. The top two out of that will be the final two entrants in the quarterfinals. The repechage will give the racers at the bottom a chance to work their way up.”

The repechage is scheduled to commence immediately after the completion of round robin number and one makeup match. In the event it cannot be completed today, Smith said they would abandon that effort and revert to the top eight finishers in the round robin; and move directly to the quarterfinals tomorrow, Saturday May 16. Racing will conclude Sunday May 17.

For some, it was welcome news. “I think we’ve solidified our spot in the quarterfinals, regardless, and we’re happy to make it to the next stage,” said Taylor Canfield, Congressional Cup defending champion, who currently sits at the top of the field with 8-2. “But we have one more important race, against Phil Robertson (6-3) that looks like it might be a ‘must win’, to get that top spot, going into the quarters.”

For others, the stakes got suddenly higher. “It’s a bit game changing; and getting close, especially for us,” said Eric Monnin, who, at 5 wins – 4 losses, is tied mid-fleet with Aschenbrenner, Corbett and Steele. That group sit astern Canfield, Ian Williams and Robertson on the leaderboard, with Bjorn Hansen nipping at their heels.

“This makes the two remaining matches even more important,” said Monnin, adding, “We’re still struggling on some points, but if we can be good in the pre-starts, we are comfortable: we are sailing the boat well.”

Congressional Cup racing is held off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, in Congressional Cup Stadium: a federally designated area of Long Beach’s outer harbor. The venue offers ideal spectator viewing, beneath newly tented bleachers, with live commentary and food and drink vendors.

Additional information: Congressional CupWorld Match Racing Tour

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.

Report by Event Media

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