Three-Peat at Congressional Cup

Taylor Canfield, the 27-year-old match-racing wunderkind from the US Virgin Islands, has pulled off an unprecedented feat, vanquishing all comers for his third consecutive win at the Congressional Cup, raced on April 6-9.

The 52nd annual Congressional Cup, sailed in Catalina 37 monohull keelboats, wrapped up on Sunday in Long Beach.

© 2016 Ian Roman / WMRT

Ted Turner, Ed Baird, Dean Barker, Ken Read and Dennis Conner are among previous winners of the prestigious match-racing regatta hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club. The venue is a popular one for race fans, who can view the action from the  BelmontVeterans Memorial Pier. Twelve skippers are invited and come from as places as far apart on the globe as Sweden and New Zealand. The Congo Cup was the second ‘Stage’ on the 2016 World Match Racing Tour.

Sally Barkow, the only woman skipper at the Congo Cup, sailed with female crew. A native of Wisconsin, Barkow is a two-time US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and served as tactician for the Volvo Ocean Race’s all-female Team SCA.

© 2016 Ian Roman / WMRT

Day 1, April 6, kicked off the competition with classic Long Beach conditions — 6 to 8 knots of southwesterly breeze. Then, after four four flights of qualifiers, a sudden wind shift put racers practically on the beach. After a lengthy postponement, the wind shifted again and built to 20+ knots. Nicolai Sehested of Denmark, racing in his first Congressional Cup, ended the day undefeated at 5-0. Day 2 was a whole other ballgame, as rain and shifty wisps of breeze forced lengthy postponements and kept the racing to two flights. Kiwi Phil Robertson climbed to the top of the standings. By the end of Day 3, 66 matches had been completed. The unsettled spring weather continued, and in the Quarter Finals on Day 4, Robertson and crew tumbled down the stack and LBYC member Scott Dickson, competing in his 17th Congo Cup, climbed to the top.

Then, on Saturday, Canfield beat Dickson in the Semi Finals, and his USOne Sailing Team triumphed over Sehested in the Finals, making Taylor the first skipper to win three back-to-back crimson blazers in the 52-year history of the regatta. 

Back at the dock, Canfield and crew celebrate their victory.

© Ian Roman / WMRT

Peter Holmberg won the Congo Cup four times around the turn of the millennium. “We’re closing in on Peter’s record," Canfield said with a smile. “We’ve got a couple more in us; we’ll be back.”

When LBYC commodore Dave Hood presented Canfield with the traditional crimson blazer, Taylor’s spare jacket got a standby of its own.

© 2016 Ian Roman / WMRT

“Every year we come back because of you, great Long Beach people,” said Phil Robertson. “We had a ripper.” For much more, see www.thecongressionalcup.com.

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We love this file shot of Jeff and Debbie Hartjoy, all decked out for the Baja Ha-Ha costume party a few years ago.