Attending a show worth attending

Published on March 18th, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
Imagine 50 yard line seats at the Super Bowl. Floor seats at an NBA Championship, or behind the dugout at the World Series! Too unobtainable? How about front-row seats at one of the world’s top yacht racing events: the Congressional Cup? For free!

The Congressional Cup is one of the leading match racing events in the sport, bringing top talent from around the globe to contend in thrilling one-on-one bouts on the water. This prestigious Grade One Match Racing regatta, hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club since 1965, returns April 3 to 7 to Long Beach, CA.

Reigning Congressional Cup Champion Taylor Canfield (USA) will be defending his title at the 55th edition but will need to overcome longtime adversary Ian Williams (GBR) amid the 10-team field which meet in Catalina 37s for a double round robins qualifying stage to advance the top teams to the semi-finals and finals.

Unfortunately, for as good as the racing will be, our sport does not lend itself well to spectating. I enjoy riding with photographers to get up close, or a comfortable ride to sip bevvies and snack on poo poos, but it can be frustrating to closely follow the races. It’s just too hard to tell what is going on.

But I enjoy spectating at the Congressional Cup. The competition is directly off the Long Beach Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, with the pre-start so close that rigs occasionally brush the structure. Plus the elevation offers a vantage to better see the positioning of the boats.

However, the spectating experience can’t be only about the racing, so the pier experience is aided by music, entertainment, and refreshments for the crowd filling the bleachers and leaning on the railing

There’s also play-by-play on the PA system, with the commentators connected to the race officials to help fill in the blanks for what’s happening on the water. Knowing the race schedule, or what penalties are getting issued, is critical to the fan experience.

Did I mention it’s free? Unlike the America’s Cup or SailGP where someone is always trying to monetize sport, the Congressional Cup offers open public access to experience the scene.

For those that can’t personally attend, Long Beach Yacht Club offers live-streaming coverage on Friday April 5 through Sunday April 7. Nightly press conferences are also live-streamed, starting Wednesday April 3, at approximately 5:30pm. View online at Facebook and YouTube.

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