|TAYLOR CANFIELD DEFENDS CONGRESSIONAL CUP TITLE
Holds off attack by Phil Robertson to win second crimson blazer …
May 17, 2015 LONG BEACH, CA - - Taylor Canfield successfully defended his Congressional Cup title in a thrilling five-day series off the California coastline – but not without a challenge every step of the way.
Twelve skippers from nine nations competed in the 51st edition of the prestigious Congressional Cup regatta, hosted by the Long Beach Yacht Club May 13 to 17.
Canfield had moved his way up through the round robins with a solid – but not undefeated – record; and into the quarterfinals and semifinals, to race against Sweden’s Bjorn Hansen. Ian Williams and Phil Robertson made up the second pairing.
The term ‘underdog’ is relative: and it might be hard to call Hansen, ranked no. five in the world, and Robertson, ranked 13, underdogs – but when racing against number one and two – Williams and Canfield – it’s justified. Particularly with Hansen a newcomer to the Congressional Cup boats and venue; and Robertson admitting his prior performance in Congressional Cup was "terrible!" So when Hansen defeated Canfield in this morning’s first match of the semis, and Robertson beat Williams, spectators and competitors alike knew it would be an exciting day.
Canfield would go on to defeat Hansen in the next two races and advance to the finals, despite sterling opposition. To Hansen’s credit, his team had advanced swiftly and confidently, with incredible boat handling and speed, for Congressional Cup virgins.
In the Williams/Robertson pair up, it was equally tight. Robertson took two wins, before Williams rebounded with two of his own. It came down to a final match; a thrilling tryst that went to Robertson in the end.
The racing had been close, and aggressive, with incredible pre-starts: the boats spinning and tacking in their menacing dance. During their hunting maneuvers the boats grazed the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, where hundreds of thrilled spectators pressed against the rail for a close-up look: the boats coming so close, Robertson at one point got hung up on a buttress – his backstay snagged with a daunting “BOING!”
During the subsequent boat swap, LBYC held a fleet race for the remainder of the racers. Keith Swinton’s Black Swan Racing Team won, trailed closely by Chris Steele, who’s crew hiked and sailed as if their Catalina was a 37-foot dinghy. Then it was ‘on’ for the first-to-two finals.
Canfield triumphed in the first race, Robertson the second, and it came down to one sudden-death match.
The wind had increased to 12 knots, from 220 degrees. Both boats were OCS in the aggressive start; Canfield ducked to clear his bow but Robertson had to circle ‘round the committee boat, putting him at a disadvantage he would never completely recover from. ‘But not without trying. Canfield led by nary a boat length at the crossings; by the second top mark it was mere meters: so tight, the jibes were perfectly synchronized. “The last match, Canfield admitted, was “intense.”
“I was a little nervous coming into the event: I haven’t match raced since February, and probably sailed the worst I’ve sailed in a while. The team really pushed hard through the whole event.” In the final downwind leg, he said, “It came down to that last luff, and my guys were ready for it. We went right through the lee of Robertson; and kept working every moment.” Canfield crossed the finish line less than two seconds ahead of Robertson, to win the final match and the Congressional Cup title.
Coming in second, said Robertson, “blew out all expectations I laid out.”
“I put together a group of guys that are really good friends, so that’s the reason I came, to have some fun with my mates, at one of the best events in the world. So we are really, really happy. We did a fantastic job, and had a great time. The boys said we probably did everything 100 percent, both on the water and off. You couldn’t ask for more that that.” For all his zany antics, Robertson proved himself a sharp competitor, and beloved by his fans at LBYC.
Williams took third place – an incredible comeback after falling behind in the round robins; he and his Team GAC Pindar fought to survive, and dashed Hansen 2-1. Hansen, in his inaugural Congressional Cup regatta, finished an impressive fourth.
As the winning skipper, Canfield was awarded the coveted Crimson Blazer – an honor bestowed to the top names in sailing over the years, including Dennis Conner, Ted Turner, Dean Barker, Ken Read, Gavin Brady, and more. The event also disbursed a prize purse of USD$75,000.
And the loser received an award stingingly referred to as ‘The Book.’ “Race Your Boat Right” was written by world champion yachtsman Arthur Knapp Jr. in 1960. It has been, for decades, the Congressional Cup consolation prize – presented with all decorum, on a pedestal, encased in glass. This year it went to Congressional Cup Chairman Bill Durant’s own son, 12th-place competitor Dustin Durant.
But before anyone would be too hasty to judge, the Chairman chided, he read off some of the recipient names inscribed on the base: “Gary Jobson, Ted Turner, Dave Ullman …
“ And as he read, a hand crept up from the far side of the dais. Taylor Canfield. Recipient of The Book in 2011 … and in 2015, his second Crimson Blazer.
ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL CUP
The Congressional Cup has been a model and innovator in the game of match racing since 1965, introducing the concept of on-the-water umpiring in 1988. The Grade WC event combines expert race organization with outstanding hospitality, to make it a favorite among match racing skippers worldwide. Its superior reputation spurred World Match Racing Tour organizers to seek out and incorporate the Congressional Cup as part of its combative and thrilling global WMRT, which is now in its 16th consecutive season. Congressional Cup Chairman Bill Durant said the inclusion in the World Match Racing Tour has been "fantastic."
“We started our negotiations at this time last year, and the process has been seamless. Even with their disappointing news of losing sponsorship, they rallied and came through as expected. It’s been a good partnership and I’m looking forward to years to come.”
WMRT CEO James Pleasance concurred. “This week’s Congressional Cup has been a fabulous opening event to the 2015/16 WMRT season. As the only U.S. World Championship event on the Tour, having the Congressional Cup is more important than ever. Our partnership has been tremendously successful, and the enthusiasm and passion of the members of the club have exceeded my expectations.”
“Given the heritage of this event – 51 years – the club’s race management is a well oiled machine," added Craig Mitchell, WMRT Director in charge of overseeing race management. "From the perspective of the WMRT, I’ve been hugely impressed with the quality and efficiency of the race management, which helps to set a benchmark for other events around the world."
The Congressional Cup is organized and hosted by the LBYC, The event is one of the premier boating institutions in the United States since 1929. Renowned for its world-class hospitality and organization, it utilizes the talents and energy of a unique volunteer force of more than 300 members, and a fleet of identical 37-foot Catalina sloops designed specifically for the event.
Next year’s Congressional Cup is scheduled April 5 to 10, 2016.
For final results please go to www.thecongressionalcup.com / RESULTS.
|The Congressional Cup is hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club and sponsored by …
Pier Sponsor: Friedmans Appliance Kitchen Bath & Beds
Official Beer Sponsor: Stella Artois Beer
Official Wine: Sponsor: Seven Angels Cellars
Race Committee Sponsor: Gelson's Markets
Spinnaker Sponsors: Creative Productions, Farmers and Merchants Bank, Gladstones, LBYC Jr Sailing Program, Newmeyer and Dillion Law Firm, Port of Long Beach, Team Campbell Logistics, Time Warner Cable, Union Bank.
General Sponsors: Ayres Hotel, Brainware, Catalina Yachts, Citywide Escrow, Club 100, Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, Gaylord Sportswear, Mount Gay, Primary Color, Queen Beach Printers, Sea Bags, Ullman Sails, Wide Angle Group, World’s Finest Chocolate
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