Closing out the opening round-robin stage of the 59th Congressional Cup today in Long Beach, the top four teams – Ian Williams/ GBR, Jeppe Borch/ DEN, Dave Hood/ USA and Gavin Brady/ USA, each advance to the Quarter-final stage of the event. The remaining eight teams will compete in a repechage stage on Friday, where the top four finishers will also join the Quarter-finals.

After an overcast start to the day, the clouds burned off and the breeze built for another spectacular day in Long Beach with an 8-10 knot southwesterly breeze which shifted consistently to the right throughout the afternoon.

Denmark’s Jeppe Borch and his Borch Racing were the first to confirm their spot for the Quarter-finals, losing only two races to finish the round-robin stage at 8.5 points, with a half- point deducted for damage. Great Britain’s Ian Williams and his Gladstone’s Long Beach team finished the stage with nine wins and two losses, winning the round-robin.

Going into the 13th flight late in the day, there was still much to play for to qualify for the Quarters. With Borch through, Williams, Brady, Berntsson, and Hood all had a strong chance to get into racing on Saturday. It began some of the closest racing of the day.

USA’s Dave Hood and his DH3 Racing needed one more win to secure their position into Quarters, and fellow USA skipper Scotty Dickson’s Dickson Racing was not going to give it up easily. The two locals got up close and personal with each other, as well as a brush with the Race Committee boat. The action continued up the course, with contact at the windward mark, which cleared all penalties as they came down the final run bow to bow. Ultimately, Hood clinched the win.

Remembering the “race of the day,” Scotty Dickson talked through the tight racing: “It felt like the two boats were held together by bungee. It was real ‘hammer and tongs’ kind of stuff. We had a situation on every leg with the umpires heavily involved. Credit to Dave [Hood] and his team for getting it done in the end.”

The Congressional Cup’s reputation continues to live up to its name, with a high caliber of racing. A notable finish between Sweden’s Johnie Berntsson and USA’s Chris Poole was the epitome of what strategic forward-thinking and on-board coordination is needed at this level of the sport.

“We came into the finish with a penalty and took it down at the pin end, just ahead of them,” said Berntsson. “Actually, we were worried for a moment because they were coming in close and they were yelling and pointing….we thought they had steerage issues or something because of all of the shouting, fortunately we managed to clear the penalty and win the race.”

For the eight teams in the repechage, racing begins again from zero tomorrow, as the top four finishers from the round robin – Ian Williams (GBR), Jeppe Borch (DEN), Dave Hood (USA) and Gavin Brady (USA) will have a bye day and rejoin the Quarter-final on Saturday.

Racing continues at 1130 local time tomorrow.

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