Top four advance at Congressional Cup
Published on April 21st, 2022
Long Beach, CA (April 21, 2022) – Taylor Canfield (USA), Ian Williams (GBR), Johnie Berntsson (SWE), and Chris Poole (USA) have advanced to the semi-finals in the 57th Congressional Cup, after a dicey day of sailing in winds grazing the top range for the Catalina 37 fleet.
The mission today was to complete the double round robin series, and ten of the world’s top-ranked match racing teams battled 20 knots of wind for a chance at the Crimson Blazer at Long Beach Yacht Club. Proving their world ranking, it is Williams (#2), Canfield (#5), Berntsson (#7), Poole (#8) that advance.
None of these four skippers are strangers to the rigors of Congressional Cup stages; Canfield, Williams and Berntsson already have in their closets an iconic Crimson Blazer: yacht racing’s equivalent to The Masters’ green jacket. And Poole, who qualified for the semifinals in 2021, has tasted blood.
There was never any doubt five-time Congressional Cup winner and defending champion Canfield would qualify. Pedigree and poise has kept his Team Stars+Stripes at the top of the leaderboard over the past three days of racing.
Likewise Williams, a four-time Congressional Cup victor and long-time rival quickly made known his intentions, claiming a spot on the top of roster, despite a three-year absence from Congressional Cup racing.
But it came down to the wire for the final two berths, with four gifted skippers hungry for those spots:Jeppe Borch, Berntsson, Poole, and Emil Kjaer.
Poole won a decisive match over Kjaer – which could have thrust Kjaer ahead in a tie-breaker; but the loss squeezed him out of the semis. Still, an impressive result for the 20-year-old sailor from Denmark.
But Poole’s battles weren’t over. The very final flight of the round robins would decide whether he – a four-time Congressional Cup veteran – would advance to the finals, or would it be Ficker Cup winner Borch?
It was a battle for points: a rousing bout with Poole winning over Berntsson to secure his spot; while Borch – who had defeated Potts – sailed on the sidelines. But an excellent showing for Congressional Cup first-timer Borch as well.
Earlier Berntsson had won a decisive match over Williams: no bearing on Williams’ position, but vital for scoring the points Berntsson needed to get in the semis.
Williams then turned the tables on Canfield, in a thrilling tussle where the opponents sparred around the entire course. Williams finished ahead of Canfield by just two seconds: no doubt a foretaste of the nail-biting competition the crowd will see in the days ahead.
With headsails shifted down to the smaller jib, today’s heavy breeze made sailing dicey, the boats moving faster, with maneuvers happening swiftly, and mistakes as well. Prone to round up in the stiff breeze, kites were soaring and dumped in the water as the exhausted sailors raced around the course again and again.
Frontrunners Canfield, Williams, Berntsson and Poole will advance to the semi-finals starting tomorrow: weather permitting.
PRO John Busch has been aggressively running race in anticipation of an overnight low pressure system barreling across the Pacific. Rain should clear by tomorrow morning: but not the gusts: with winds expected in the 20s, over the fleet limit for safe racing.
Live streaming begins daily at 11:30am PT: click here.
Racing in the Catalina 37s, the format began with the double round robin series to advance the top four teams for the semifinals, petite finals and finals. Racing is on April 19-23.
2022 World Match Racing Tour Schedule
April 14-16 – Ficker Cup – Long Beach, CA, USA
April 18-23 – Congressional Cup – Long Beach, CA, USA*
April 28-May 1 – Szczecin Match Race – Szczecin, Poland
May 6-8 – Porto Montenegro Match Race – Tivat, Montenegro
May 20-22 – NJK Open Spring Cup – Helsinki, Finland
May 24-29 – Island Match Cup – Puerto Rico (cancelled)
June 4-5 – GKSS Spring Cup – Gothenburg, Sweden
June 16-19 – OM International Ledro Match Race – Ledro, Italy
July 4-9 – GKSS Match Cup Marstrand – Marstrand, Sweden* (cancelled)
August 12-14 – Chicago Grand Slam – Chicago, IL, USA
August 18-21 – International Match Race for the Detroit Cup – Detroit, MI, USA
August 25-29 – Oakcliff International – Oyster Bay, NY, USA
August 30-September 3 – Thompson Cup – Oyster Bay, NY, USA
September 7-11 – Baltic Match Race – Tallin, Estonia
September 29-October 3 – Match Race Germany – Langenargen, Germany
September 30-October 3 – DBS Marina Bay Cup – Marina Bay, Singapore
October 7-9 – Polish Open – Szczecin, Poland
October 17-22 – Bermuda Gold Cup – Hamilton, Bermuda* (cancelled)
December 6-11 – Shenzhen Bao’an Match Cup: WMRT Finals – Shenzhen, China*
*World Championship (WC) Events
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
Source: Betsy Senescu