Weis, Thomson advance to Congressional Cup 2023
Published on April 16th, 2023
Long Beach, CA (April 16, 2023) – In a stunning upset Chris Weis (USA) ousted Jeffrey Petersen (USA) in the Ficker Cup semifinals today, and advanced to the finals against Megan Thomson (NZL): going on to capture his first Ficker Cup title.
The results for Weis and Thomson qualify them to compete in the Congressional Cup Grade One match race championship which starts Tuesday April 18. Petersen defeated Nicole Breault (USA) in the petit finals, and took third and fourth respectively.
Held in Catalina 37s, the Ficker Cup on April 14-16 is a Grade Two match race hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club and part of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT). Weis’ crew was Richard Van der Weyde, Alex Burrow, Sidney Gathrid, Dylan Finestone, Roberto Stevens, and Haydon Stapleton.
In three days of racing in variable conditions – which ranged from blustery winds in the high teens, to this morning’s light breeze – eight teams from across the US, New Zealand and Ireland battled for Ficker Cup honors. Petersen had dominated the double round robin series, while Weis and Breault each finished 9-5. Thomson slipped in on a tiebreaker over Peter Holz (USA) and Pearson Potts (USA).
Progressing to the semifinals, Petersen elected to pair up against Weis and won the first match, while Thomson beat Breault. But Weis turned the tables on Petersen and captured the next three wins to move into the finals. Meanwhile, Thomson and Breault traded points, but Thomson returned with victory in match four to eliminate Breault.
Earlier today Principal Race Officer Wendy Corzine had called for a brief postponement until the prevailing wind filled, with the breeze ultimately reaching 8 to 10 knots.
Each duo – Weis vs. Thomson and Petersen vs. Breault – went one and one, leaving the decision to the last match of the day in this best-of-three series. Weis triumphed over Thomson, and Petersen over Breault.
Weis, who had earned his way into the Ficker Cup through the California Dreamin’ Series, noted how he’d dreamed of going to the Congressional Cup for a while. “To be honest I don’t think we expected to be here, but it’s all thanks to the guys,” acknowledging his team.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to sail your way into it and I thank Long Beach Yacht Club and everyone who enabled the pipeline to get us here,” Weis continued. “We had great competition out there, some really hard fought matches, but we really enjoyed it and I’m really happy.”
Weis and Thomson will round out the 10-team roster for Congressional Cup. Thomson, a 25-year-old Kiwi skipper, admitted she had a boost from her crew: Congressional Cup competitor Nick Egnot-Johnson and his WMRT Championship team. In an ironic twist, Thomson will go on to compete against Egnot-Johnson and his crew in the Congressional Cup next week: with a pick-up crew.
This was the first time in anyone’s memory that two female skippers had made the Ficker Cup semifinals. “I know it’s newsworthy to some, but I think one of the things that makes Megan and me good competitors in an open field is that we see each other as peers, peers of the guys, just as strong,” Breault noted.
“I’ve raced against Megan before and I knew she could bring it as well as any other skipper or competitor in the regatta. When I see her, I just see another sailor.”
Breault – four-time US Women’s Match Race Champion, making her third appearance at Ficker Cup – applauded her team saying, “I feel really lucky; my team was great, always ready for action. We knew our main goal was to be players, and to make the semis.
“But we were realists too: it was our first time coming together as a team. The attitude on the boat was really positive; it’s been a fantastic experience and so much fun.”
Petersen had been undefeated in the Round Robins and as the frontrunner, elected to pair up against Weis in the semis. It would be his undoing. “At the end of the day this field is extremely competitive, so honestly it didn’t really matter who we picked,” Petersen explained. “You’ve got to beat them all. But we felt we had some mojo on Chris going into the semifinals yesterday, and we won the first race by a good margin.
“But today they came out and sailed an absolutely brilliant series, so all props to him and his team. We just didn’t have it in the tank today and they outsailed us. We’re holding our head high: it was a good event and we’re proud of how we sailed.”
Petersen and team have been commended for thanking their opponents after each race. “It is our number one priority to be good sportsmen first,” Petersen said. “We want to be competitors and we want to fight hard, but I grew up with this quote from Paul Elvstrøm: ‘You haven’t won the race, if in winning you have lost the respect of your competitors’.”
The spotlight now turns to the Congressional Cup, which runs Tuesday April 18 through Saturday April 22. Spectators can watch the races live from Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier at 39th Place & E. Ocean in Long Beach, starting at roughly 11:30am daily and online at http://www.thecongressionalcup.com.
Competitors include defending champion Ian Williams (GBR), Christopher Poole (USA), Jeppe Borch (DEN), Eric Monnin (SUI), Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL), Dave Hood (USA), Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and Harry Price (AUS) in addition to Weis and Thomson.