Ian Williams (GBR) and his team GAC Pindar triumphed in the 53rd Congressional Cup, beating Johnie Berntsson (SWE) in a fifth and final winner-take-all match.
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In 2016,Williams' team finished last in the Congressional Cup. That shakeup was motivating, said Williams, who vowed to come back and redeem himself.
Races were aggressive, including two matches held as a thick bank of fog rolled through. “It’s rare to race like that; difficult when you can’t see the top mark,” Williams said.
But they were able to keep close to Berntsson, and get a win in the second match. “Johnie has been on fire this week, and we thought once we got a win on him, maybe we could break his spell.”
In the fourth flight, that fire turned explosive. In a blistering pre-start, as the boats skimmed the pier, Williams was penalized for nosing in without room.
Flagged, he continued his combat with Berntsson, sprinting toward the start line, but didn’t keep clear of Berntsson, picking up a second penalty.
Then as he tacked back to clear the committee boat he was forced to fend off, warranting a third and terminal (black) flag. The race was over nearly as soon as it had begun.
“We were expecting it,” Williams admitted, but they shook it off. “We just had to forget about it, and move on to the next race.”
With wheels spinning, racing resumed, in a final winner-takes-all match.
Splitting tacks, at the leeward gate Williams went left while Berntsson banked on the right side of the course . . . and lost.
With the late afternoon wind waning, Williams got the better breeze, and defeated Berntsson by over a minute.
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The Congressional Cup is part of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) and a 53-year tradition in the sport of sailing.
A model and innovator in the game of match racing since 1965, the Congressional Cup pioneered the concept of on-the-water umpiring in 1988.
The event combines expert race organization with outstanding hospitality, to make it a favorite among match racing skippers worldwide.
Hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club one of the premier boating institutions in the United States since 1929.
The Club and associated Long Beach Sailing Foundation maintain a fleet of identical 37-foot Catalina sloops designed specifically for the event; which guarantees an even platform and exciting competition.
2017 Congressional Cup
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 3-1 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Flux Team
Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 2-0 Phil Robertson (NZL) China One Ningbo
1. Ian Williams – GAC Pindar GBR
2. Johnie Berntsson – Flux Team SWE
3. Taylor Canfield – US One ISV
4. Phil Robertson – China One Ningbo NZL
5. Sam Gilmour – Neptune Racing AUS
6. Scott Dickson – Dickson Racing USA
7. Joachim Aschenbrenner – Aschenbrenner Racing DEN
8. Chris Steele – 36 Below Racing NZL
9. Eric Monnin – Albert Riele Swiss Team SUI
10. Harry Price – Down Under Racing AUS
11. Nicolai Sehested – EWII Racing DEN
12. David Storrs – Pequot Racing USA
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3 April 2017 7:23 GMT