USA launches World Match Racing Tour
Published on November 28th, 2019
The 56th edition of the Congressional Cup®, organized by Long Beach Yacht Club in California, will play host to the opening event of the 2020 World Match Racing Tour season on April 29-May 3, 2020. An expected field of ten teams will battle for the Congressional Cup® trophy and a share of the USD75,000 prize purse.
The announcement marks the return of the Congressional Cup® to the World Match Racing Tour after a two year hiatus.
Founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1965, the Congressional Cup® is commonly referred to as the ‘granddaddy’ of match racing, and is the oldest continuously-held sailing match race regatta in the world. The event has long set the standard for top-level match racing, and pioneered the concept of on-water umpiring, used by match racing events around the world including the America’s Cup.
“I am delighted Long Beach Yacht Club has agreed to host the opening event of our 20th year of the World Match Racing Tour,” commented WMRT Executive Director James Pleasance. “The Congressional Cup is a hugely popular event with competitors and visitors, added to which the racing venue right off the end of Long Beach’s Belmont Pier is the selected sailing venue for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.”
The list of Congressional Cup® past winners reads a who’s-who of international match racing and America’s Cup champions including Ted Turner, Dennis Conner, Ed Baird, Dean Barker, Taylor Canfield, James Spithill, Paul Cayard, Terry Hutchinson, and Francesco Bruni. Six-time match racing world champion and four-time past winner of the Congressional Cup® Ian Williams is the reigning event champion.
Each year, the world’s top ranked match racing sailors return to Long Beach in a bid for the prestigious Congressional Cup® trophy, and the equally sought after Crimson Blazer, sailing’s equivalent to The Masters Green Jacket in pro golf.
“Our club has had a long relationship with the World Match Racing Tour and we are pleased to return to the World Tour as an official World Championship Event,” added 2020 Congressional Cup® Chair Cheri Busch.
“It is a very exciting time for Long Beach Yacht Club with our role as official yacht club for the Stars + Stripes America’s Cup Challenge, as well as venue to the 2028 Olympic sailing event. We pride ourselves on hosting the very best events at Long Beach Yacht Club and we are delighted to welcome back the World Match Racing Tour to Long Beach.”
The five-day regatta will feature ten world class teams which will include six Tour Card skippers plus the top two finishers of the Ficker Cup (April 24-26, 2020), the official qualifier event to the Congressional Cup® also run by Long Beach Yacht Club.
The remaining invitations are awarded to the winner of the US Match Racing Grand Slam Series (Jordan Stevenson, NZL), and the immediate past winner of the Congressional Cup (Ian Williams, GBR). Skippers competing at both events will earn points to the World Match Racing Tour annual leaderboard, giving the sailors the opportunity to accumulate points towards the 2020 Match Racing World Championship title.
Editor’s note: This is a rebuilding year for the tour as new ownership seeks to return it to its core mission of elite monohull match racing, and including the Congressional Cup sets a good table for this feast.
2020 Tour Schedule*
April 29-May 3 – Congressional Cup – Long Beach, USA
May 11-16 – Argo Group Gold Cup – Hamilton, Bermuda
* Additional events to be announced.
Background: Founded in 2000, the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) promotes the sport of match racing around the world and is the longest running global professional series in the sport of sailing. The World Tour represents a series of independently organized and officially sanctioned match racing events which are used to award prize money and the Match Racing World Championship title.