Big revisions for 2020 Congressional Cup

Published on May 26th, 2020

Long Beach Yacht Club has announced the 2020 Congressional Cup regatta has been rescheduled to October 13 to 18, 2020. Originally to be held April 28 to May 3 to kick off the 2020 World Match Racing Tour, the 56th edition was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

But taking into consideration budget and travel concerns of the international field of top-ranked match racing competitors, the Congressional Cup will be shifting from the Catalina 37s normally used to Solings and be held within the turning basin of Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, CA.

“We are looking forward toward the horizon, and setting a course to get back to the things we love,” announced Congressional Cup 2020 Chair Cheri Busch. “Some things will look a little different, but we can guarantee the same thrilling level of competition to both racers and onlookers alike.”

The original roster of competitors remains on the lineup and includes: reigning Congressional Cup champion and six-time match racing world champion Ian Williams (GBR); 2009 winner Johnie Berntsson (SWE); last year’s runner-up, Scott Dickson (USA); Eric Monnin (SUI); Harry Price (AUS); Nicklas Dackhammar (SWE); Torvar Mirsky (AUS); and Jordan Stevenson (NZL). The final two contestants will be determined at the Ficker Cup regatta the prior weekend, October 8 to 11, 2020.

It is the first time in roughly three decades the Congressional Cup will not be raced in the conventional fleet of identical Catalina 37s. Before Catalina Yachts President Frank Butler donated the customized Catalina 37s to the Long Beach Sailing Foundation, the event had been competed in Columbia 50s, Erickson 39s, Cal 40s and Catalina 38s.

However, the Soling – a 27-foot one-design keelboat established as an Olympic class – can be sailed with three or four crew (578.7 lb. limit) which eases travel challenges for international sailors. Familiar, and versatile in a broad array of wind conditions, the Soling’s strict class rules assure competition on a level playing field: a hallmark of Congressional Cup racing.

Another first is the Alamitos Bay race course. Home of Long Beach Yacht Club, Alamitos Bay is separated by the mile-long Alamitos Peninsula from San Pedro Bay: the traditional arena for the Congressional Cup. Lined with sandy beaches and promenades, the course will offer plenty of vantage points for fans to take in the excitement.

“The new venue inside Alamitos Bay will provide a fabulous amphitheater for spectators, and certainly a new challenge for the competitors,” noted World Match Racing Tour CEO James Pleasance.

Founded in 1965, the Congressional Cup is revered as the ‘grandfather of match racing.’ It was here that organizers from LBYC pioneered and perfected the concept of on-the-water umpiring that is the standard today.

While some aspects of Congressional Cup 2020 might appear different, its legacy remains, Busch pointed out. At the end of the week, the winner of this historic series will, as always, hoist the grand silver trophy and don the legendary Crimson Blazer.

“Congressional Cup is more than just a sailboat race. It’s a tradition, a rite-of-passage, and for many sailors, the gateway to the America’s Cup,” Busch continued. “It is a congregation of athletes and officials from around the world, who are warmly hosted by our generous club members, making it feel more like a family reunion at times, with households welcoming the same sailors year after year. We are eager to present this great event once again.”

Commodore Charlie Legeman added, “Congressional Cup is a world-class Grade One match racing event and takes a considerable amount of time and talent to organize: roughly 300 club members volunteer for this regatta.”

The revised timeframe, he noted, allows the club to reschedule critical aspects of the event, while taking into account other regattas on the local and global sailing circuit. “We hope everyone will add the new Congressional Cup 2020 dates to their calendars and join us for this battle on the Bay!”

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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. Teams accumulate points from each of the events towards an overall WMRT global ranking, the top twelve teams from which compete in the WMRT Championship Finals at the end of the season.

2020 World Match Racing Tour Schedule
(Cancellation or postponement of 2020 event due to COVID-19 pandemic)

1. May 14-17 – Slovenia Match Race Cup, Portorož, Slovenija (CANCELLED)
2. May 22-24 – NJK Open Spring Cup, Finland (CANCELLED)
3. June 18-21 – Świnoujście Match Race – Polish Match Tour, Poland
4. July 1-5 – GKSS Match Cup Sweden*
5. July 23-26 – Internationaux de France de Match Racing, France
6. July 29-August 1 – Baltic Match Race, Estonia
7. Aug 8-11 – AIRCALIN Match Race, Noumea, New Caledonia
8. Aug 14-16 – Chicago Grand Slam, Chicago, USA
9. Aug 19-23 – International Match Race for the Detroit Cup, USA
10. Aug 27-31 – Oakcliff International, Oyster Bay, USA
11. Sept 2-5 – Thompson Cup, Oyster Bay, USA
12. Sept 9-13 – Match Race Germany, Langenargen, Germany (originally May 27-June 1)
13. Sept 17-20 – DBS Marina Bay Cup, Singapore
14. Sept 18-20 – Porto Montenegro Match Race, Montenegro (previously on May 18-20)
15. October 8-11 – Ficker Cup, Long Beach CA, USA (previously on April 24-26)
16. October 13-18 – Congressional Cup, Long Beach, CA, USA* (previously on April 29–May 3 )
17. October 25-30 – Argo Gold Cup, Bermuda* (previously on May 11-16)
18. Nov/Dec (TBA) WMRT FINAL, Hong Kong

* WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Event

The WMRT takes place in identically supplied racing yachts which change for each event and has been awarded ‘Special Event’ status by the sport’s world governing body – World Sailing. The winner of the WMRT each year is crowned World Sailing Match Racing World Champion.

Previous Champions include Bertrand Pace (FRA), Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR), Jesper Radich (DEN), Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Peter Holmberg (ISV), Peter Gilmour (AUS), Ian Williams (GBR), Adam Minoprio (NZL), Taylor Canfield (ISV), Phil Robertson (NZL), and Torvar Mirsky (AUS).

Since 2000, the World Match Racing Tour and its events have awarded over USD23million in prize money to sailors which has helped to contribute to the career pathway of many of today’s professional sailors. www.wmrt.com

Source: Long Beach Yacht Club

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