Images courtesy of the Long Beach Yacht Club.
Sunday marked a triumphant win for Ian Williams and his team GAC Pindar, representing Great Britain, on the last day of competition during the 53rd Congressional Cup, part of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT), hosted by the Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC) at the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.
It’s taken five years for Williams to earn back the coveted Crimson Blazer, the honor bestowed to the top names in sailing during the match racing regatta, the longest running and most prestigious match sailing race in North America, first held in 1965.
Having won two consecutive Congressional Cup tournaments in 2011 and 2012, Williams and team let the title slip out of their hands and, in 2016, finished last, despite his title as as six-time WMRT champion. That same year Williams’ rival, Taylor Canfield representing the US Virgin Islands, won the cup to become the first skipper to win three consecutive Congressional Cups.
This year, Williams was ready for a come back. Arriving in Long Beach seeking redemption, he gained momentum throughout the five-day event, starting March 28, winning against Chris Steele of New Zealand in the quarter finals and moving on to break Canfield’s winning streak in the semi finals, according to the results.
Williams beat Johnie Berntsson of Sweden in a fifth and final winner-take-all match on Sunday. Two of the matches were held in thick fog, however Williams and team were able to keep close to Berntsson, to win the second race.
“It’s rare to race like that; difficult when you can’t see the top mark,” Williams said in a statement. “Johnie has been on fire this week, and we thought once we got a win on him, maybe we could break his spell.”
During the fourth flight, Williams picked up two penalties, leading to a third and terminal (black) flag, ending the race, according to the release.
Photo from Day 3 of the 53rd Congressional Cup.
“We were expecting it,” Williams stated. “We just had to forget about it, and move on to the next race.”
Once racing resumed, leaning into the favoring breeze, Williams was able to defeat Berntsson by over a minute. Going into the day, both teams had been within one point of winning the cup, while Canfield went on to take third place against Phil Robertson of New Zealand during the Petite Finals.
“We’re already looking forward to coming back next year,” Berntsson said in a statement.
The Congressional Cup 2018 is scheduled for April 3 to 8.
For more information and the final results, please visit the website here.