Ahead of the Gender Curve

Published on January 25th, 2016

As the 2015 World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) wraps up this week, with Malaysia’s Monsoon Cup determining who will wear the 2015 victor’s crown, there will be little delay before the 2016 series gets underway. And with the new season comes a shift to this previous boys circuit.

2016-01-25_8-27-27New to WMRT this year is a female Tour Card Holder – Sally Barkow – adding to the roster of nine other top ISAF-ranked skippers.

After the first event in March in Australia, the WMRT comes to California on April 5-10 for Congressional Cup – the grandfather of modern match racing, founded and hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC). But while having female competitors is new territory for the WMRT, it’s not for Congressional Cup.

”In the past we have welcomed Betsy Alison, five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, and Olympic medalist JJ Fetter, to our field of competitors,” explained Congressional Cup Chairman Camille Daniels. “Our heritage is all about having the best sailors in the world, competing in our spectacular venue, in equalized boats.”

This iconic regatta will be the only WMRT event in 2016 not being sailed in the M32 catamaran, instead continuing with its monohull tradition, pitting teams against each other in identical 37-foot Catalina keelboats designed specifically for the event. Currently in its 52nd year, Congressional Cup pioneered on-the-water umpiring in 1988, and set the bar for high level match racing competition.

“We’re excited to see Sally return to Congressional Cup this season,” added Daniels, noting that Barkow competed in the Congressional Cup in 2010, after winning the Ficker Cup qualifier. “She’s exhibited extraordinary skills in a variety of sailing disciplines – match racing, the Olympics, and most recently the Volvo Ocean Race with Team SCA.

“She’s already proved she can mix it up with the boys,” Daniels continued, citing Barkow’s stunning performance last month in the M32 Series in Bermuda. Barkow’s all-gal crew includes 2014 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Stephanie Roble; who is coincidentally dating Congressional Cup defending champion Taylor Canfield (ISV).

The event promises top-notch spectating with the field including Tour Card Holders Björn Hansen (SWE), Eric Monnin (SUI), Phil Robertson (NZL), Nicolai Sehested (DEN), Keith Swinton (AUS), and Ian Williams (GBR); plus Grand Slam winner Sam Gilmour (AUS) and ISAF #9-ranked Chris Steele (NZL).

The two final entrants will be determined April 1 to 3 in the Ficker Cup regatta, also hosted by LBYC.

Congressional Cup has been one of the world’s premier match-racing events since 1965 – and a gateway for yachting greats like Dean Barker, Dennis Conner, Ted Turner, Bill Ficker, Peter Holmberg, Taylor Canfield, and many more.

In addition to intense competition at a viewer-friendly waterfront venue abreast Long Beach’ Belmont Veteran Memorial Pier, the hallmark of Congressional Cup is the unique and welcoming hospitality at LBYC, made possible by an assembly of more than 300 enthusiastic volunteers.

Leading the charge this year, in addition to Chairman Daniels, is Vice Chairman Joe Seibert, Chairman Afloat Eric Dickinson, Chairman Ashore Arleen Tolle, Pier Chairman Cheri Busch, Chief Financial Officers Mary Voigt and Clare Holm, and Principal Race Officer Randy Smith.

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Source: Congressional Cup

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