Barker perfect at Congressional Cup

Published on April 18th, 2018

Long Beach, CA (April 18, 2018) – Dean Barker celebrated his 45th birthday with six straight wins on Day One of the 54th annual Congressional Cup regatta, hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC).

Stiff competition and solid breeze, that started at eight knots and built to a rousing 14 knots greeted the 10 top teams from around the globe who convened in Long Beach for this prestigious World Sailing Grade One regatta.

Barker’s team American Magic had battled its way into the Congressional Cup, qualifying at last week’s Ficker Cup regatta with just one loss under the belt. It was the first stop on the New York Yacht Club American Magic challenge for the 36th America’s Cup; and an auspicious one for Barker, CEO/tactician Terry Hutchinson, and the campaign.

In a three-way tie for second place, after six flights of round robin racing, are 2009 Congressional Cup champion Johnie Berntsson (SWE); three-time victor – in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – Taylor Canfield (ISV); and Sam Gilmour (AUS).

Gilmour set sail this morning with a secret weapon: 11-year-old Jack Snow.

LBYC members house the visiting Congressional Cup crew and officials, and for six years Julie and Bob Snow have welcomed various team members into their home. “The guys are near and dear to our hearts, and have become like family to us,” explained Julie Snow.

So when Sam Gilmour’s Congressional Cup team weighed in significantly lighter than the maximum weight limit – a huge disadvantage in the breeze – they thought of the Snows’ son: Jack.

“We’ve all seen Jack growing up over the years,” surmised Gilmour, “and he gets bigger all the time …”

“I received a random text from Keith Swinton (tactician) saying ‘Hi Julie, how much does Jack weigh?’ I thought that was funny … but I had just weighed him, and texted back,” said Julie Snow.

Jack tipped the scales at 40.2 kilos.

“And as it turned out, we were 41 kilos below weight,” Gilmour said.

“I got home from school and my mom said, ‘I’ve got to show you something’,” said Jack. Swinton had videotaped an invitation.

‘Would Jack join Gilmour’s Neptune Racing Team for the 2018 Congressional Cup?’

“At first I thought it was a prank! Then I realized it wasn’t,” admitted Jack.

“I thought he was going to pass out!” his mother laughed. “He hasn’t missed any school this year, and he’s gotten great grades, so Bob and I said ‘okay.’ Keith is like a big brother to our son Jack, and I know he and the guys will take care of him; they’re all so fantastic.”

Jack started his sailing ‘career’ at age 4, with the LBYC Sea Otters, advancing to Sabots and FJs. He’s a floater on board, filling in when they need an extra pair of hands. “He’s great,” said Gilmour. “He has local knowledge, and comes up with some great one-liners too.”

And it seems Jack is a bit of a lucky charm as well.

For the past three years, he has competed in a fleet race, held on the final day of Congressional Cup, for teams that don’t qualify in the semi finals. He’s been on the winning team in both 2015 and 2017!

Coincidentally, the youngest sailor ‘til now has been Steve Flam, who raced in Congressional Cup 1976 at the age of 14; crewing for his father Barney Flam, while his mother did foredeck. Flam is still racing in Congressional Cup, with Dickson Racing Team. This year marks his 30th.

The eyes of the world turned toward Congressional Cup today, with LBYC’s new live stream of racing, with play-by-play by celebrity commentator Tucker Thompson.

“This has been a dream of mine, and in the works, for years,” said Chairman Eric Dickinson. “Now, it’s a dream come true.”

Yacht racing aficionados can watch the races on Facebook with live commentary highlighted by feature segments from Australian Producer/Actress Camilla Jackson.

For those fortunate enough to live in Southern California, the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier provides spectacular viewing of the thrilling races. “One of the most exciting things is literally looking right down on these guys as they sail by. You can almost reach out and touch the sails, they’re so close,” said Dickinson. Live commentary keeps you up to speed with the races, in a festive atmosphere.

Racing is scheduled on April 18 to 22.

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The Congressional Cup is hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club, renowned for its outstanding hospitality and organization, utilizing the talents and energy of more than 300 member volunteers to host this Grade WC competition.

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.

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.

Source: Congressional Cup


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