Congressional Cup is cancelled

Published on June 11th, 2020

Long Beach, CA (June 11, 2020) – Long Beach Yacht Club has canceled the 2020 Congressional Cup regatta, which had been slated to begin April 2020 and postponed to mid-October. The 56th edition was to be the opening event of the 2020 World Match Racing Tour season but could not overcome the issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The myriad of challenges to offering healthy and enjoyable world class events proved insurmountable, and after a lengthy effort by our volunteer organizers we regrettably determined we must cancel both the Grade One Congressional Cup and Grade Two Ficker Cup,” announced Congressional Cup Chair Cheri Busch.

As a Grade One match race, the Congressional Cup hosts an international field of top-ranked sailors and race officials, and ongoing travel restrictions, in part, forced the abandonment of the event.

Organizers had also explored other platforms and venues, LBYC Commodore Charlie Legeman explained, including the possibility of holding the matches aboard a fleet of Solings.

“Congressional Cup founder, first Congressional Cup Chairman and Permanent Senior Staff Commodore Bill Dalessi clarified Congressional Cup history to me, pointing out the Cup was to be sailed in big boats with full crews,” Legeman said. “Out of respect to those founding fathers and Commodore Dalessi, I recommended to the Congressional Cup committee that we cancel the event outright, for 2020.”

Originally scheduled April 28 to May 3, 2020, reigning Congressional Cup champion and six-time match racing world champion Ian Williams (GBR) was to defend his title. Williams is a four-time winner of the Crimson Blazer (2011, 2012, 2017 and 2019), a feat accomplished by only four other skippers in 55 years of Congressional Cup racing: Gavin Brady, Taylor Canfield, Rod Davis and Peter Holmberg.

In addition to Williams, the 2020 lineup included past Congressional Cup winner Johnie Berntsson (SWE), last year’s runner-up Scott Dickson (USA), Eric Monnin (SUI), Harry Price (AUS], Nicklas Dackhammar (SWE), and Torvar Mirsky (AUS) – who would be making his second Congressional Cup appearance after a hiatus of nearly 10 years.

Slated for his Congressional Cup debut was Jordan Stevenson (NZL), who earned his spot on the roster as victor of the USA Grand Slam series; accruing the most points in that four-part circuit made up of the Chicago Match Cup, Detroit Cup, the Oakcliff International, and Thompson Cup. Two final berths are typically filled by the top finishers of the Ficker Cup, which has also been canceled.

“Congressional Cup is more than just a sailboat race,” Busch continued. “It’s a tradition and a rite-of-passage, and for many sailors, the gateway to the America’s Cup. The congregation of athletes and officials who come to Long Beach from around the world each year 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.”

Both Congressional Cup and Ficker Cup are expected to return in 2021.

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

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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; CANCELLED)
17. October 25-30 – Argo Gold Cup, Bermuda* (previously on May 11-16)
18. Nov/Dec (TBA) WMRT FINAL, Hong Kong


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.

Source: Long Beach Yacht Club

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