The 56th edition of the Congressional Cup®, organized by Long Beach Yacht Club in California, will play host to the opening event of the 2020 World Match Racing Tour season April 29 – May 3, 2020. An expected field of ten teams will battle for the Congressional Cup® trophy and a share of the USD75,000 prize purse. The announcement marks the return of the Congressional Cup® to the World Match Racing Tour after a two year hiatus.
Founded by Long Beach Yacht Club in 1965, the Congressional Cup® is commonly referred to as the ‘granddaddy’ of match racing, and is the oldest continuously-held sailing match race regatta in the world. The event has long set the standard for top-level match racing, and pioneered the concept of on-water umpiring, used by match racing events around the world including the America’s Cup.
“I am delighted Long Beach Yacht Club has agreed to host the opening event of our 20th year of the World Match Racing Tour” commented WMRT Executive Director James Pleasance. “The Congressional Cup is a hugely popular event with competitors and visitors, added to which the racing venue right off the end of Long Beach’s Belmont Pier is the selected sailing venue for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.”
The list of Congressional Cup® past winners reads a who’s-who of international match racing and America’s Cup champions including Ted Turner, Dennis Conner, Ed Baird, Dean Barker, Taylor Canfield, James Spithill, Paul Cayard, Terry Hutchinson, Francesco Bruni, to name a few. Six-time match racing world champion and four-time past winner of the Congressional Cup® Ian Williams is the reigning event champion.
Each year, the world’s top ranked match racing sailors return to Long Beach in a bid for the prestigious Congressional Cup® trophy, and the equally sought after Crimson Blazer, sailing’s equivalent to The Masters Green Jacket in pro golf.
“Our club has had a long relationship with the World Match Racing Tour and we are pleased to return to the World Tour as an official World Championship Event” added 2020 Congressional Cup® Chair Cheri Busch. “It is a very exciting time for Long Beach Yacht Club with our role as official yacht club for the Stars + Stripes America’s Cup Challenge, as well as venue to the 2028 Olympic sailing event. We pride ourselves on hosting the very best events at Long Beach Yacht Club and we are delighted to welcome back the World Match Racing Tour to Long Beach.”
The five-day regatta will feature ten world class teams including six Tour Card skippers plus the top two finishers of the Ficker Cup, the official qualifier event to the Congressional Cup® also run by Long Beach Yacht Club 24-26 April, 2020. The remaining invitations are awarded to the winner of the US Match Racing Grand Slam Series, and the immediate past winner of the Congressional Cup. Skippers competing at both events will earn points to the World Match Racing Tour annual leaderboard, giving the sailors the opportunity to accumulate points towards the 2020 Match Racing World Championship title.
ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL CUP
The Congressional Cup® is hosted by the Long Beach Yacht Club, renowned for its outstanding hospitality and organization, utilizing the talents and energy of more than 300 member volunteers to host this Grade One competition. Since 1965 the world’s top ranked skippers have come here to vie for the esteemed Congressional Cup® and the Crimson Blazer – an honor bestowed to sailing icons like Dennis Conner, Dean Barker, Ken Read, Ted Turner, Taylor Canfield and more. Races are sailed in a fleet of identical 37-foot Catalina monohulls designed specifically for the event, which guarantees an even platform and exciting competition. www.
ABOUT THE WORLD MATCH RACING TOUR
Founded in 2000, the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) promotes the sport of match racing around the world and is the longest running global professional series in the sport of sailing. The World Tour represents a series of independently organised and officially sanctioned match racing events. Teams accumulate points from each of the events towards an overall WMRT global ranking, the top twelve teams from which compete in the WMRT Championship Finals at the end of the season.
The WMRT is awarded ‘Special Event’ status by the sport’s world governing body – World Sailing – and the winner of the WMRT each year is crowned World Sailing Match Racing World Champion. Previous Champions include Bertrand Pace (FRA), Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR), Jesper Radich (DEN), Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Peter Holmberg (ISV), Peter Gilmour (AUS), Ian Williams (GBR), Adam Minoprio (NZL), Taylor Canfield (ISV), Phil Robertson (NZL) and Torvar Mirsky (AUS).
The WMRT is a match racing competition with racing taking place in identically supplied racing yachts which change for each event and which place a firm focus on teamwork, strategy and skill. Racing takes place close to shore to create stadium-style viewing for spectators.
Since 2000, the World Match Racing Tour and its events have awarded over USD23million in prize money to sailors which has helped to contribute to the career pathway of many of today’s professional sailors. www.wmrt.com