All aboard the Congressional Cup express

Credit: Long Beach Yacht Club

All aboard the Congressional Cup express

On Day Two of this world-class match racing regatta, everyone got on board: on the scoreboard that is, in a day of action-packed competition off the Belmont Veteran’s Memorial Pier here.

The Congressional Cup regatta is part of the World Match Racing Tour and one of the pre-eminent match racing events in yachting; attracting the top-ranked skippers from around the globe. Founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1965, they pioneered the concept of on-the-water umpiring and set the standard for top-level match racing worldwide. This five-day event continues through Saturday April 23.

Under the command of Principal Race Officer John Busch racers completed the first round robin series and dipped into the second today. Long Beach continued to deliver stiff and steady westerly breezes: with more forecast in the days ahead.

Earlier today Pearson Potts (USA) won his first match of the event and picked up the pace from there. “You make the smallest mistake, and you know the guy on the other side will capitalize on it.” Harry Price (AUS) also started to get up to speed, after a long gap in racing forced by the pandemic.

At the end of 12 flights, defending champion Taylor Canfield (USA) had continued full steam ahead to the top of the leaderboard at 10 - 2, but not without a pack of hungry rivals on his caboose: Ian Williams (GBR), Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and Chris Poole (USA) all at 8 - 4.

And it was a day of thumps and thrills as the ten teams warmed up, and the action heated up. Chief Umpire Russell Green noted 21 penalty flags in today’s six flights, with combative competitors colliding, clipping the Race Committee boat, tangling with each other – and the pin end of the line.

As Nick Egnot-Jones (NZL) put it, “There were lots of flags flying, boats colliding, and a real spectacle. It was high caliber competition.”

Jeppe Borch (DEN) and Emil Kjaer (DEN) had dominated last week’s Ficker Cup qualifier to fill the final two berths in Congressional Cup. Despite the running start, the youngsters struggled against some of their more seasoned opponents.

Borch (24) is the 2022 Ficker Cup winner and Kjaer (20) won in 2021. Victory in the Ficker Cup is not only a launchpad into Congressional Cup racing, but also a portent: although not necessarily immediate gratification. Terry Hutchinson won Ficker Cup in 1991, and Congressional Cup in 1992. Likewise Simone Ferrarese was the 2011 Ficker Cup champion and 2013 Congressional Cup winner, and Taylor Canfield went on to capture five Congressional Cup titles (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2021) after winning the Ficker Cup in 2013. History heralds good things for these two young teams from Denmark.

Racing continues through Saturday April 23 off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, with shaded stadium seating and live commentary, starting at 11:30AM daily. In addition, Thursday will see a fleet race from the Congressional Cup Stadium course into Alamitos Bay; Friday features the Junior Congressional Cup, after the day’s match racing; and during Saturday’s finals, there will be a fleet race for the six eliminated teams.