January 10, 2017 LONG BEACH, CA - - The 53rd Congressional Cup regatta promises a bounty of action and excitement, with the preliminary announcement of three-quarters of the teams; including seven of the world’s top 10 match racing skippers.
With such top-heavy competition, this five-day series – a Championship Event on the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) – is guaranteed to be another nail-biter when it takes place in the waters of Long Beach, California, March 27 to April 2, 2017.
Returning to defend his Congressional Cup Championship title is three-time winner Taylor Canfield, ISV (ranked no.1 by World Sailing), who will vie to match Peter Holmberg’s record of four Congressional Cup victories (1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002). Leading the opposition is Phil Robertson, NZL (no. 4) – who edged out Canfield in last year’s WMRT finals to capture the 2106 World Match Racing Champion title.
Other past Congressional Cup winners on the leaderboard include 2011 and 2012 victor Ian Williams, GBR (no. 2), and Johnie Berntsson, SWE (no. 37), who triumphed in 2009. Sam Gilmour, AUS (no. 3), Eric Monnin, SUI (no. 9) and Nicolai Sehested, DEN (no. 23) also join the line-up, along with Chris Steele, NZL (no. 6) who is carrying a WMRT Tour Card for the first time.
Steele scrapped his way into Congressional Cup history via the Ficker Cup qualifier in 2015; earning a wild-card entry in 2016. “We have been chasing the Tour Card for several seasons now and have been falling short every time, so we are super happy to have it for the 2017 season,” Steele announced. Making his Congressional Cup debut is another rising star from the land down under, Harry Price, AUS (no. 5), who scored his slot by winning the 2016 US Grand Slam – a bracing quartet of back-to-back match racing regattas held last summer. The final contenders will be decided in the Ficker Cup qualifier, held in the days leading up to Congressional Cup.
The Congressional Cup is regarded the ‘granddaddy of match racing’ as Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC) innovated the game of match racing in 1965 and was a pioneer in on-the-water umpiring. This venerable regatta is the second event in the seven-stop WMRT global series, which commences in Australia in March and concludes in China in November.
While other WMRT Championship Events are raced in M32 multihulls, the Congressional Cup is challenged in a fleet of identical 37-foot Catalina sloops designed specifically for LBYC’s match racing series; which guarantee an even platform and exciting competition. Gilmour, who finished third last year, described it as, “some of the most exciting racing I’ve ever done,” and lauded LBYC for both the high level of racing, and hospitality.
The Congressional Cup is hosted by LBYC, renowned for its outstanding hospitality and organization, utilizing the talents and energy of more than 300 member volunteers annually. Since 1965 the world’s top ranked skippers have come here to compete for the esteemed Congressional Cup and the Crimson Blazer – an honor bestowed to sailing icons like Dennis Conner, Dean Barker, Ken Read, Ted Turner, Taylor Canfield and more.
Racing is held directly off the city’s Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, where spectators can view this world class competition for free, beginning around 11AM each day. For more information on Congressional Cup visit www.thecongressionalcup.com; go to www.wmrt.com for details on the Tour.