Stars + Stripes victory at Congressional Cup
Stars + Stripes Team USA skippered by Taylor Canfield has triumphed in the 56th Congressional Cup at Long Beach Yacht Club, capping five-days of high-test competition in this World Match Racing Tour championship event: and making Canfield the winningest skipper in the 56-year history of the Cup.
Said Canfield, of his fifth Congressional Cup victory, “It’s incredible, but it feels just like every other win. Fantastic! And to win with the Stars+Stripes Team again: I’m on top of the world.” Racing with Canfield was Mike Buckley, CEO of Stars+Stripes, plus Mac Agnese, Leo Boucher, Victor Diaz De Leon, George Peet and Erik Shampain.
Canfield attributed the victory to sticking to the team plan. “Our goal is to always get better throughout the week. We had some difficult moments and some tough debriefs about how we could continue to get better, and that makes us stronger in the end. And we like to keep the umpires out of the game, I think we had only one penalty over the week.”
Aggressive manoeuvers and resultant penalties oft proved to be the demise of Canfield’s rivals. Advancing to the semi-final round for the first time in his eight Congressional Cup history, Eric Monnin (SUI) won his initial match against Canfield. But the CAPVIS Swiss Match Race Team bowed to Canfield in the next three bouts, including one black flagged match. In the petite finals, Monnin beat Chris Poole (USA) in the best-of-three series, to capture his first podium finish in his Congressional Cup career. Members noted Monnin and his bride Ute Wagner are probably the first husband-wife team to podium in the Cup.
Chris Poole (USA) and Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Photo: Ian Roman
Poole (USA) and Johnie Berntsson (SWE) entered the day 2-2 with one match left in the semi-finals: a winner-take-all to advance. In the vigorous pre-start Poole, failed to keep clear and received a penalty he couldn’t exonerate before the finish, bowing to Berntsson.
Then it was Canfield versus Berntsson in the finals. It was the lightest day of the series, with patchy, more southerly breezes of 7 knots, adding to the complexity and challenge of match racing. Stars+Stripes swept the series with three wins in a row. Berntsson captured his fourth second place win in 15 years of Congressional Cup racing. The 2009 winner of the Crimson Blazer, Berntsson remains a crowd favorite at host LBYC.
Canfield commended the level of competition at the event. “It was great to come and beat an incredible field of sailors, including some great up-and-coming young guys,” Canfield added. “But at 32, I think I’ve got a few more years left in me,” he said with a laugh.
Scores of spectators had gathered on Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier to watch the spectacle, which included a fleet race for those teams not making the semis. That race was won by Jeffrey Petersen (USA), who is the current United States Youth Match Racing Champion and Governors Cup champion. Petersen is the youngest competing skipper, at 19, and had 13-year-old Madison Mansour, a LBYC Junior, doing main and tactics for the win.
Complete results and news are available at: https://www.matchracingresults.com/2021/congressional-cup/, https://thecongressionalcup.com; and on the official Facebook page at @CongressionalCup.