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Congressional Cup sailing begins Wednesday off Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier

By Jo Murray,

Contributing writer

Emil Kjaer of the Royal Danish Yacht Club won the 2021 Ficker Cup this weekend, besting a field of eight leading match racing skippers from the U.S. and overseas — and securing on of three final spots in this week’s Congressional Cup.

Americans Jeffrey Petersen and David Wood secured the other two spots in the so-called granddaddy of regatta match racing, the 56th edition of which is set to ceremonially kick off Tuesday, Sept. 13, with the competition running in earnest from Wednesday to Sunday in Long Beach.

Both the 2021 Congressional Cup and the Ficker Cup are hosted by the Long Beach Yacht Club.

The final day of the Grade 2 Ficker Cup, on Sunday, saw the 20-year-old Kjaer of Denmark topple Petersen, 19, in the finals 3-1 after taking down round-robin leader Wood, 20, in the semifinals, also 3-1. to Petersen blanked fellow American Pearson Potts 3-0 in the semifinals, guaranteeing his spot in the Congressional Cup.

Wood, meanwhile, recovered from his loss in the semis and beat Potts 2-0 in the Petit Finals — the third-place match — to secure the final Congressional Cup slot.

The rest of the Congressional Cup skippers include American Taylor Canfield, a four-time Congressional Cup champion; 2009 winner Johnie Berntsson, from Sweden; Eric Monnin from Switzerland; Maxime Mesnil from France; Chris Poole from the U.S.; and Australian Sam Gilmour, who had a podium finish in the 2018 Congressional Cup.

Monnin and Mesnil are both in the top 10 of the World Sailing rankings. And Poole, who is currently ranked 12, is expected to move back into the top 10 when the world rankings are updated on Wednesday, Sept. 15, because of his win last month at the 2021 Oakcliff International in New York.

The Congressional Cup, which was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic and then delayed this year from its usual April running, will begin with a welcoming celebration and a practice day on Tuesday.

Racing will begin on Wednesday.

The tournament will follow a double round robin format — each crew will face every other team twice — before the semifinals and finals take place over the weekend.

The best viewing is from the Belmont Memorial Veterans Pier. The area next to the pier, 15 39th Place, is often referred to as the “pit row seats of sailing” and will feature live commentary, bleacher seating and golf cart shuttles to and from the pier.

The Congressional Cup will also livestream the races on its official Facebook page.

Long Beach Yacht Club’s coverage will include enhanced drone video, on-the-water interviews, aerial photography and expert commentary.

“The daily racing live show is anchored by sailor Katie Pettibone plus a list of VIP guest commentators,” Geoffrey Talbot, executive producer for the event coverage, said.

At press time, the VIP remote guest roster included well-known names in sailing and past Congressional Cup winners, such as Francesco Bruni, Ken Read, Shirley Robertson, Peter Gilmour, Chris Steele, Scotty Dickson, Leonard Takahashi, Will Bouden and Nick Egnot-Johnson.

“The VIP guest commentary list is expected to grow,” Talbot added, “as the Congressional Cup regatta gains momentum.”

Editor’s note: Jo Murray is a member of and the historian for the Long Beach Yacht Club.

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Source: Orange County Register

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