Canfield sets tone at Congressional Cup
Published on September 15th, 2021
Long Beach, CA (September 15, 2021) – The 56th Congressional Cup got underway today, with 10 of the world’s top match racing teams competing in stellar conditions off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier today. This world-class event, hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club and part of the World Match Racing Tour, runs through September 19.
In the opening day of round robin racing, Taylor Canfield (USA) ended the day undefeated; followed by Johnie Berntsson (SWE) 5-2 – his fiery performance matched by his blazing-orange crew shirts.
Canfield is the reigning Match Racing World Champion and a four-time Congressional Cup winner. His victories in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018 put him in an auspicious position: tied for the most Congressional Cup wins with four other skippers: Ian Williams (2011, 2012, 2017 and 2019); Gavin Brady (1996, 1997, 2006, 2008); Peter Holmberg (1998, 1999, 2001, 2002); and Rod Davis (1981, 1985, 1989, 1993).
The USVI native has his eye on a fifth victory – which would make him the winningest skipper in more than a half-century of Congressional Cup racing.
But a lot can happen over the next four days of racing, with the world’s number-one ranked match racing skipper Eric Monnin (SUI) and Maxime Mesnil (FRA), #4, in the mix; plus Chris Poole (USA) – right off a win in the Oakcliff International Regatta; Sam Gilmour (AUS); Dustin Durant (USA); and Ficker Cup’s tuned-up trio of qualifiers Emil Kjaer (DEN), Jeffrey Petersen (USA), and David Wood (USA).
The Congressional Cup has been one of the leading yacht racing events in the world since 1965. LBYC, spearheaded by the late William Dalessi, pitched the concept of a premier level regatta. When a California Congressman and Senator offered to sponsor the event, it was dubbed the Congressional Cup.
The stunning trophy – a three-foot tall, sterling masterpiece – was designed and created in a joint effort by Dalessi and trophy artisan Ralph Egleston of Long Beach. Egleston hand-engraved the Congressional Seal and the nameplate so the large, hand-wrought silver vessel would have instant recognition and significance. It has been sought-after by sailors, world-wide even since.
The first Congressional Cup regatta took place in 1965 with seven area skippers, Larchmont Yacht Club’s Arthur Knapp Jr., and one entrant from Long Beach Yacht Club. Dalessi believed, as host, LBYC should always have an entry in the event – and even as the Congressional Cup expanded over the years into a world-class Grade One regatta, and part of the World Match Racing Tour, the organization has honored that tradition.
This year’s LBYC entry is Durant – who stepped in when fellow member Scott Dickson was forced to drop out, unable to return to the States from New Zealand due to pandemic protocol.
Durant, nicknamed ‘Dusty,’ is a three-time Congressional Cup veteran, and last raced in the regatta in 2015 – but ‘dusted off his sailing gloves’ to represent his home club. Durant was the only competitor shut out today, but expectations are high for tomorrow.
Racing on September 15-19 is held off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, beginning with a Double Round Robin followed by semi-finals, petite finals, and finals.
WORLD MATCH RACING TOUR
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 WMRT is awarded ‘Special Event’ status by the sport’s world governing body – World Sailing – and the winner of the WMRT each year is crowned World Sailing Match Racing World Champion.
Previous champions include Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR), Taylor Canfield (USA), Peter Gilmour (AUS), Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Peter Holmberg (ISV), Adam Minoprio (NZL), Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Bertrand Pace (FRA), Jesper Radich (DEN), Phil Robertson (NZL) and Ian Williams (GBR).
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