Taylor Canfield: Merging match racing with multihulls

Published on May 18th, 2015

Now in its 51st year, the Congressional Cup in Long Beach, CA on May 13-17 was the first World Championship event for the 2015-16 World Match Racing Tour. Taylor Canfield (ISV) and his US One Sailing Team successfully defended their title this year, but rather than focus solely on the tour events to seek the World Championship title, the 26-year old Canfield and his team have different plans.

Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck caught up with Taylor after his win…

What were your expectations at the Congressional Cup?SWEDEN, Marstrand. 1st July 2014. Day two Stena Match Cup Sweden.
Being the defending Congressional Cup champion, there might have been a bit of added pressure this year, but we were also eager to compete and enjoy what really is a special event. We didn’t think about it, to be honest, and just approached it as another race.

However, we recognized coming into it that we had not been match racing as a team since early February at the Monsoon Cup, so we expected there to be a bit of rust. Our plan was to remain patient early and seek to improve, and then hope we were still standing at the end of the five day event. We were behind in a lot of races, so the team really had to work hard to get what we got. No doubt we are super happy how well it went.

You appear to have mastered the Congressional Cup boat.
The Catalina 37 is a handful, not so much because of it being 37-feet, but it is just a lot of boat for six people. It definitely feels like a lot of boat. Big headsails and dip-pole gybes require more effort, and the boats themselves are heavy and require more focus to keep them moving.

Being short-handed, particularly when it gets windy like it can at Congressional Cup, and considering all the maneuvering we do in match racing, it is all adds up to some long days. But I have faith that in whatever I do that my team will react in time. Some of us on the team have been together now for a few years, so we have developed a good chemistry. They now expect what my next move will be, which sets them up for what is needed.

Explain your plan for the 2015 season.
We chose not to make the financial investment to acquire a Tour Card for the World Match Racing Tour, which gives each card holder entrance to all the World Championship Tour events. This year we are looking to diversify our sailing and make the best choices for the whole team. For sure we are looking at how the America’s Cup is now in multihulls, and this season our team was given the opportunity to compete on the M32 catamaran circuit.

So we jumped on that, which is going to make it tough for us to get to all the Tour events. We are going to be spending a lot of time in Scandinavia this summer with the catamaran sailing. But I still love the match racing, having won the World title in 2014 and finished second this past season, and will continue to keep at it as much as I can. I hope to remain connected with the Tour in the future, but for now, it’s tough to balance it all on a relatively low budget.

We are doing what we can, and hopefully the time and funding will be there to get to all the events that we can. Our objective is to be doing whatever it takes to get us closer to the America’s Cup, and right now it is a massive advantage to stay involved with both match racing and catamaran racing.

But without the Tour Card, we will be relying on gaining wild card invitations from the individual tour events. Since our plan isn’t to be doing too many match race events, it will be essential to post good results. It remains vital to maintain our high ISAF ranking (currently #2), as that will help gain the wild card invites. If our ranking slips too far, we risk losing the chance to get invited at all.

We have a great group of guys that are committed to the US One Sailing Team, but it will be an interesting year to see how it all balances out between the Tour, the M32 racing, and the additional professional sailing opportunities the entire team is involved in.

What’s next?
US One is competing in the first stop of the five event M32 Scandinavian Series, which is in Oslo, Norway on May 21-24. I will be there along with Hayden Goodrick and Garth Ellingham, who were alongside me at the Congressional Cup, and Ricky McGarvie who finished third with Ian Williams at the Congressional Cup.

Any long range goals?
It is definitely one of my goals in my life to compete in the America’s Cup, whether that is with my own syndicate at some point or joining another team. This certainly depends on timing and the future of the America’s Cup, so for now we are just enjoying the process and getting involved in different parts of the sport to get as good as we can. We are just doing what we can to prepare for that moment.

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