Ten of the top match racing sailors in the world are lined up for the 42nd ISAF Grade 1 Congressional Cup, presented by Acura in Long Beach, California, USA from 11-15 April. America's premier one-on-one nautical contest is also set to see some fleet racing for the first time.
Instead of parking their boats on the fifth and final day, the six competitors who fail to reach the semi finals after two round robins will run a fleet race for a $1,000 winner-take-all prize, before the four semi finalists sail off for the Championship and the largest chunks of the $41,000 total purse.
Event chairman Randy SMITH said the new wrinkle was inspired by the Louis Vuitton Acts, which last year introduced fleet races in Europe amongst the teams entered in the America's Cup 2007.
'I took it from the AC Acts,' SMITH said. 'I like change and taking people out of the comfort zone. It makes them better. If two boats are fun, six boats are a show. I have always thought it was a waste of great talent to have six of the ten sitting around with nothing to do on the last day. Now they will have fun, fight for money and provide a greater spectacle.'
Former Winners Head The Line Up
The ten entries include former winners Chris DICKSON (NZL), in 1990-1991; Gavin BRADY (NZL), in 1996 and 1997; and Chris LAW (GBR) in 1994.
The six man crews will sail Catalina 37s owned by the Long Beach Sailing Foundation, rotating boats daily. The ten teams will compete in a double round robin of match racing, followed by the fleet race and championship sailoffs on Saturday 15 April.
Long Beach Yacht Club continues as the organizing host of the event. The racing venue will be adjacent to the Belmont Pier, which will have accommodations and race commentary for spectators at no charge.
Congressional Cup Entrants
(Team - ISAF World Match Race Ranking)
- Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Team Musto - 5
- Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), APCC Voile Sportive - 6
- Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Alandia Sailing Team - 11
- Johnie BERNTSSON (SWE), Semcon - 17
- Chris DICKSON (NZL), BMW Oracle Racing - 30
- Cameron APPLETON (NZL), K-Challenge - 37
- Gavin BRADY (NZL), Beau Geste racing - 40
- Brian ANGEL (USA), King Harbor Yacht Club - 60
- Scott DICKSON (USA), Dickson Racing - 63
- Chris LAW (USA), Outlaws - 113