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3 May 2007, 10:36 am
Russians Ready For Congressional Cup Debut
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Congressional Cup 2007
Long Beach, California, USA

Eugeny NEUGODNIKOV (RUS) and Andrew ARBUZOV (RUS), currently #6 and #24 in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, will be among ten competitors in the Long Beach Yacht Club's 43rd ISAF Grade 1 Congressional Cup, presented by Acura, from 15-19 May, Tuesday through to Saturday.
While the more familiar world-class talents duke it out in Valencia, NEUGODNIKOV and ARBUZOV are amongst the first Russians to compete in an ISAF Grade 1 match racing event in the USA. If NEUGODNIKOV's performance matches his ambition, he will be leading Russia's first America's Cup challenge the next time around.

AC Scalps

NEUGODNIKOV, 25, has been match racing only five years but claims success against two AC skippers on the world circuit - 2-0 vs James SPITHILL (AUS) of Luna Rossa and 1-1 vs 2000 Congressional Cup winner Dean BARKER (NZL) of Emirates Team New Zealand.

He has his own slick website with the name of his team (www.lordofsail.com) in Russian and English, plus a few sponsors for support.

So how did he become #6 and climbing? 'We won the Yava Trophy 2006, a Grade 1 [event], and two Grade 2 [events], Sails of White Nights [and] Sopot MR,' he said by email.

His all-Russian crew is Ekimov ALEXANDER, Kornev NIKOLAY, Besputin KONSTANTIN, Pozidaev MIHAIL and Karelskiy MAKSIM. He has only heard of a Catalina 37, the Congressional Cup workhorse for the last 15 years. 'I heard that the boat is good - but slow in the pre-start manoeuvres!' he said.

Veteran match racing umpire Henry MENIN (ISV) has said of NEUGODNIKOV, 'I had the opportunity to watch and to umpire Eugeny in New Zealand. It was a pleasure to watch the progress he has made. He and the crew represent Russia in a very fine way.

National Pride

'He also is the only one of the competitors who flies his national flag on his backstay for every race, so obviously he is very proud to be representing Russia.'

Brian ANGEL (USA), 25, a second-time competitor from Redondo Beach, said, 'I've sailed against NEUGODNIKOV a few times. He's a pretty wound-up skipper . . . pretty aggressive on the water and seems to have a lot of close races. He wins plenty of them, needless to say.'

NEUGODNIKOV said on his website, 'The Lord of the Sail has the aim to take part in the largest and most prestigious world, European and Russian sailing regattas. The basic purpose in 2006-2007 is to rise to 3 to 6 [in the Rankings - he is already there], to win the Open World Championship and to [join] the World Match Racing Tour. That's all to raise the prestige of Russia on the international sailing scene.

'The general purpose of the team: participation in the America's Cup, the greatest event in world match racing.'

France's Mathieu RICHARD, #4 in the world, heads the Congressional Cup list. Others in order of rankings: NEUGODNIKOV, #6; Damien IEHL (FRA), #10; Johnie BERNTSSON (SWE) #13; Simon MINOPRIO (NZL) #17; Martin ANGSELL (SWE) #22; ARBUZOV #24; ANGEL #35; Przemek TARNACKI (POL) #51; Scott DICKSON (USA) #101.

DICKSON, an LBYC member, does not compete regularly on the circuit but this will be his 11th Congressional Cup.

The total purse will be $41,000, including $10,000 to the winner.

Spectators will have free front row seats for the racing with the start and finish lines located at the recently upgraded Belmont Pier. There will be expert commentary, a leader board and free parking. Food and beverages will be available in a new patio setting.

The event will be managed by about 300 LBYC volunteers, including hostess teams for each crew. The competitors, six to a crew, will sail ten Catalina 37s, rotating boats each day. Each team will race every other team twice. The six that fail to reach the semi-finals will sail a 10-mile fleet race on the final championship day.

Acura, the luxury division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., is the presenting sponsor of the Congressional Cup.

For all the news on the Congressional Cup CLICK HERE.

Rich Roberts (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV is heading for Long Beach:© Susu Kukkonen
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