Elite match racing comes to California

Published on March 19th, 2018

The 54th edition of Long Beach Yacht Club’s Congressional Cup will host an all-star lineup for the match racing competition on April 18 to 22 in Long Beach, CA.

With five of the world’s top-ten ranked skippers, Ian Williams (GBR) returns to defend his title, against Taylor Canfield (ISV), Harry Price (AUS), Sam Gilmour (AUS), Chris Steele (NZL), Eric Monnin (SUI), Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN), Scott Dickson (USA) and two yet-undecided foes.

But before the Congressional Cup is the Ficker Cup, established in 1980 by the Long Beach Yacht Club to honor Bill Ficker, winning skipper of the 1970 America’s Cup and Star boat champion. A World Sailing Grade Two match racing event, racing will be held April 13 to 15 with the top two finishers advancing directly to the Congressional Cup.

That’s how Terry Hutchinson (USA) won his Congressional Cup berth in 1992 – and went on to victory. He returns this year with Dean Barker (NZL), Congressional Cup winner in 2000 and 2005. Barker and Hutchinson are representing the New York Yacht Club’s recently announced partnership with Bella Mente Quantum Racing Association, established to challenge for the 36th America’s Cup in 2021.

These seasoned pros will be fighting in the Ficker Cup against several promising match racing skippers – including some 20 years their junior, such as Leonard Takahashi – for the right to compete in the Congressional Cup.

Takahashi, a 23-year-old from Japan, swept the Musto International Youth Match Racing Champs World Sailing Grade Two event in December, to earn a Ficker Cup invitation.

But don’t rule out Johnie Berntsson (SWE); also competing in Ficker Cup this year in the hopes of an entry into Congressional Cup. Last year, Berntsson was a Congressional Cup invitee: “on fire” according to his rivals, he finished second in the 2017 Congressional Cup, behind six-time match racing World Champion Williams.

Ficker Cup details… click here.

The Congressional Cup is one of the most prestigious top-level yachting events in the world. Established in 1965, it is recognized as the “grandfather” of match racing, pioneering the concept of on-the-water umpiring 30 years ago. Each year, this World Sailing Grade One competition features an elite delegation of the world’s best sailors competing in five days of rousing matches.

Racing takes place directly off the Belmont Memorial Veterans Pier which offers superb viewing with live commentary, food and drink vendors, and the camaraderie of other sailing fanatics. All told, April promises to be a month of thrilling world class racing.

Event detailsPast winnersFacebook

The Congressional Cup is hosted by LBYC, renowned for its outstanding hospitality and organization, utilizing the talents and energy of more than 300 member volunteers to host this Grade WC competition. For the skippers, their prize is the esteemed Congressional Cup and the Crimson Blazer – an honor bestowed to sailing icons like Dennis Conner, Dean Barker, Ken Read, Ted Turner, Taylor Canfield and more. Races are sailed in a fleet of identical 37-foot Catalina monohulls designed specifically for the event.

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