Brilliant sunshine greeted the all-star line-up of Congressional Cup 2017, racing along the shores of Long Beach, California. Conditions were nothing like last year’s dismal, drizzly weather.
But the wind played havoc with racers none-the-less. Light breezes from the southwest built auspiciously, then plunged. The drop was so sudden, it threw Qualifying flight three into a frenzy …. a Swan Lake-like performance of boats grazing across the course with no apparent clue as to who was racing who.
Caught in the shifts – from 185 degrees to 230 degrees – Congressional Cup defending champion Taylor Canfield (ISV) lost to Harry Price (AUS) by a full minute, while Sam Gilmour’s (AUS) time over Nicolai Sehested (DEN) was nearly the same. And Johnie Berntsson (SWE) hammered Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) by a remarkable two minutes: a huge spread for such a highly-ranked field of sailors.
But just as suddenly the sea breeze filled in to a brisk 12-14 knots. Aschenbrenner rebounded with a win over David Storrs (USA), and Canfield returned to his winning form: ending the day 4:1 – tied with Berntsson. Both skippers are past Congressional Cup champions: Berntsson in 2009, and Canfield, 2014 – 2016. Like most of the teams on Day One, Berntsson said they “struggled with the details,” but added, “I’m happy, we had a good day and are staying in the game.”
Tied with three points each were Price, Gilmour, Phil Robertson (NZL) and Eric Monnin (SUI); followed by Aschenbrenner, Ian Williams (GBR), Chris Steele (NZL) and Scott Dickson (USA) each at two points.
Sehested and Storrs ended the day with one win each. “It was a bit of a tough day,” admitted Sehested, but he pointed out last year they moved up the leaderboard to second place overall, nearly capturing the title from Canfield, and was undeterred by his 1:4 start to the week.
And yet today, everyone got a piece of the pie, heralding the incredible level of competition expected over the next four days of Congressional Cup 2017.
This 53-year tradition, hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club, is the second stop on the 2017 World Match Racing Tour, attracting a dozen of the top match racing teams from around the globe, as they vie for the Crimson blazer. Races will continue through Sunday April 2, beginning at 11:30 Pacific Time each day off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.
Results: Day 1
1. Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Flux Team – (4)
2. Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One – (4)
3. Eric Monnin (SUI) Albert Riele Swiss Team – (3)
4. Harry Price (AUS) Down Under Racing – (3)
5. Phil Robertson (NZL) China One Ningbo – (3)
6. Sam Gilmour (AUS) Neptune Racing – (3)
7. Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Aschenbrenner Racing – (2)
8. Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing – (2)
9. Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar – (2)
10. Scott Dickson (USA) Dickson Racing – (2)
11. Nicolai Sehested (DEN), EWII Racing – (1)
12. David Storrs (USA) Pequot Racing – (1)
by World Match Racing Tour