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11 April 2006, 12:28 pm
BRADY Heads Con Cup Field
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Congressional Cup 2006
Long Beach, California, USA

Two-time winner Gavin BRADY (NZL) is the popular favourite at the 42nd ISAF Grade 1 Congressional Cup presented by Acura, with Great Britain's Ian WILLIAMS and France's Mathieu RICHARD close behind, but a dogfight looms through the rest of the field when racing starts 11 April in Long Beach, USA.
With a $41,000 purse at stake, the six man crews will sail ten Catalina 37s, rotating boats daily. Racing will be twice around a windward-leeward course set off the shoreline adjacent to the Belmont Pier, which will have accommodations with expert race commentary for spectators at no charge.

The action, starting at 1200 local time daily, conditions permitting, also will have a live radio broadcast on the local radio loop 810 AM and nightly highlights at about 2100 Pacific Daylight Time - both accessible through the event website -

The teams spent Monday weighing in, the maximum is 1,158 pounds per crew (average 193), and practicing in a ten knot south westerly breeze.

A New Format

Competitors will sail a double round robin schedule Tuesday through to Friday. The top four teams then advance to the best of three sail off semi-finals and final on Saturday, when America's premier match racing event also will see some fleet racing for the first time.

Instead of parking their boats on the final day, the six competitors who fail to reach the semi-finals will run a fleet race for a $1,000 winner take all prize, using a windward-leeward course plus a parade leg along the beach.

The Line Up

WILLIAMS is rated seventh and RICHARD - a semi-finallist last year - eighth in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, whilst BRADY is 21st, mostly for lack of competing on the world circuit before he resigned from the BMW ORACLE Racing America's Cup team last summer. His career includes America's Cups, Volvo Ocean Races and numerous ocean races.

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Brian ANGEL has high hopes
for next week
But it was in long Beach ten years ago that he broke through the big time sailing barrier as a 22 year old unknown from New Zealand, so he can relate to some of his rivals in this field with the awareness that any upstart can bite.

One to keep in mind is Brian ANGEL (USA), 24, a Southern California local from the King Harbour Yacht Club in nearby Redondo Beach whose team is not intimidated by what he calls the, 'Biggest event we've done.'

Instead, ANGEL, who describes his style as 'aggressive,' intends to do some intimidating.

'I feel good,' he said. 'It's in our own backyard in boats that we know. I've sailed against just about everybody here once or twice. I don't know Gavin or Johnnie BERNTSSON [SWE] . 'I've been match racing for eight years and took on skippering about two years ago at the Hardy Cup in Australia, had some success and got serious with the 2004 Bermuda Gold Cup [when] we won our qualifying group. The team decided to stick together.'

His crew is tactician Payson INFELISE, main trimmer Nate CAMPBELL, trimmers Dave HOCHART and Dave LEVY and bowman Jon BELL.

High Hopes For ANGEL

What appeals to them in match racing is that, 'It's just you and one other guy. And you don't need to be the fastest person out there, just a little bit better than the other guy.'

ANGEL credits Pete IVES, a Long Beach YC member and veteran international sailing judge, for giving his career a boost.

'What got me going was when I was 17 or 18 and I was going to New Zealand with Colin CAMPBELL for the Coca-Cola Cup [Youth Match Racing Championship]. Pete IVES came to the club and gave Colin and me a full rules clinic for three or four hours… went through the entire umpire call book. We knew the rules but not all the nuances. You have to know every little detail.'

The team's aim: 'We want to make the semis… be in the game on Saturday,' ANGEL said. 'That's our goal.'

BRADY A Consistent Challenger

If they get that far, they will probably run into BRADY again. He has reached the semi-finals six times and the final four times since he last won in 1997.

The long range weather forecast is for partly cloudy days Tuesday through Wednesday, then rain and thunder Friday and showers Saturday.

Acura, the luxury division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., has signed on for three more years as the presenting sponsor.

Congressional Cup Entrants
(Team - ISAF World Match Race Ranking)

  • Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Team Musto - 7
  • Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), APCC Voile Sportive - 8
  • Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Alandia Sailing Team - 13
  • Johnie BERNTSSON (SWE), Semcon - 18
  • Peter WIBROE (DEN) - 19
  • Gavin BRADY (NZL), Beau Geste racing - 21
  • Simon MINOPRIO (NZL) - 32
  • Cameron APPLETON (NZL), K-Challenge - 60
  • Brian ANGEL (USA), King Harbor Yacht Club - 64
  • Scott DICKSON (USA), Dickson Racing - 84

For all the news on the Congressional Cup CLICK HERE.

Rich ROBERTS (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Gavin BRADY starts as favourite in Long Beach:© Sergio DIONISIO/Oceanfashion Pictures
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