“We’re T-minus two-weeks and counting!” announced Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC) Congressional Cup Chairman Chris Macy, as the September 14 to 19, 2021 event approaches. Despite last-minute roster changes and protocol requirements, Macy revealed, “There’s a definite buzz at the Club: you can feel the energy building and the excitement, that after two and one half years – this is really happening!”
What’s happening is the 56th Congressional Cup: the most exciting, top-notch yacht racing to take place on America’s shores this year. The ‘grandfather of match racing’ Congressional Cup was founded in 1965 by LBYC, where organizers revolutionized the game of match racing with on-the-water umpiring. The only Grade One Match Race in the US and a championship event on the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT), the regatta is raced on a fleet of identical 37-foot Catalina keelboats, which guarantees an even platform and thrilling competition.
Last-minute snags have defending champion Ian Williams (GBR) withdrawing, in addition to Phil Robertson (NZL) and Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL). Taking their places will be Chris Poole (USA) – right off a win in the Oakcliff International Regatta – and Dustin Durant (USA), a three-time Congressional Cup veteran and LBYC representative. Final berths will be filled by Ficker Cup’s top trio of finishers.
“It has been crazy, with all the moving targets and moving pieces: like musical chairs,” admitted Macy. “I’m a realist and was not going to force this event to happen. But within the current guidelines, we are allowed to proceed – and the competitors are gung ho to come and race! That’s what’s dictated our march onward, our persistence and flexibility.”
“And if I didn’t feel we could hold a superior level of competition worthy of the Congressional Cup, that wasn’t on par with the other esteemed champions etched on that trophy, we wouldn’t hold it,” Macy continued. In addition to Poole and Durant, he exclaimed, “Look who is coming! We have Taylor Canfield (USA), a four-time Congressional Cup champion, and 2009 winner Johnie Berntsson (SWE). Three of the top-10 ranked match racing skippers: Eric Monnin (SUI), Maxime Mesnil (FRA) and Chris Poole; plus Sam Gilmour (AUS) who had a podium finish in the 2018 Congressional Cup, and is a crowd favorite. It is going to be an excellent competition!”
Matches begin Wednesday Sept. 15 following team registration, weigh-ins and a welcoming celebration Sept. 14. Then the fun begins: five days of racing starting at 11:30AM directly off Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. The format includes a Double Round Robin followed by semi-finals and petite finals, with finals on Sunday Sept. 19.
In addition, Saturday afternoon the umpires, competitors and VIPS will team up onboard the Catalina 37s for a ‘Race to the Bar.’ A fleet race on Sunday, with cash prizes, will offer a sweet consolation to competitors who do not make the finals.
Spectators are invited to experience the thrill of racing from the Pier, located at 15 39th Place, Long Beach, Calif., where live commentary will be presented in a festive atmosphere. Or, enjoy live streaming race action on the official Facebook page at @CongressionalCup.
Back at the Club, at 6201 E. Appian Way, Long Beach, daily press conferences are scheduled at 5PM (approx.) with other great opportunities to rub elbows with the teams and members. “We’ve moved all the events outside, but September in California is beautiful, so why not? ” Macy added. All functions will be held on the pool deck or out-of-doors; following state and local guidelines, masks will be required inside the clubhouse.
BUT FIRST, FICKER CUP
The Ficker Cup is a noteworthy Grade Two match racing event in its own right, and also serves as a qualifier for the Congressional Cup. Following a similar format, racing will run Friday Sept. 10 through Sunday Sept. 12 in the waters off Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier beginning at 11:30AM daily.
“We have a phenomenal lineup: some seasoned returning sailors alongside hot new talent,” said Ficker Cup Chair Lisa Meier. “We look forward to welcoming back Pearson Potts (USA), Peter Holz (USA) and Dave Hood (USA), and introducing newcomers Jeffrey Petersen (USA), David Wood (USA) and Emil Kjaer (DEN). These three youngsters are enthusiastic and primed, having just squared-off against each other at the Youth Match Racing Worlds and Governor’s Cup.” Meier continued, “Plus we have Pauline Courtois (FRA) – the top ranked female match racing skipper in the world – and Nicole Breault (USA), who just won her fourth title at the US Women’s Match Racing Championship: shutting out her opponents with 12 wins and 0 losses!”
Competition will be heated as racers vie for the Ficker Cup trophy and the podium placements which will get them entrée to the Congressional Cup. For complete information and results on Ficker Cup visit www.lbyc.org