|It wasn’t just the sudden 4.3 earthquake that shook things up at the Congressional Cup this weekend. The spirited racing, which had started Wednesday Sept. 15, found five skippers battling for the final spot in the semi-final round at this prestigious Long Beach Yacht Club, World Match Racing Tour event.
At the start of Day Four, only two races remained in the double round robin series: a scant 1.5 points separating the five hopefuls. Jeffrey Petersen (USA) and Emil Kjaer (DEN) each went 1-1; while David Wood’s (USA) losses to Petersen and Johnie Berntsson (SWE) eliminated him from the hunt. But when Chris Poole (USA) aced both of his matches – including a stunning win over Berntsson – he leapfrogged the pack to land the final spot in the semis.
“I thought it would be a tall order to get through,” Poole admitted, after an opening day record of 2-5. “This is a really tough event, and the field of competition is really deep. And the younger guys we saw come up from Ficker Cup are not slow … so to have that competition: it was really a tall order.”
“There were a lot of factors that had to happen for us to win our two races: that’s all we had control over,” Poole continued. “But the guys on my boat did a phenomenal job and the chips fell in our favor.” Poole called his pairing with Berntsson in the semi-finals a “fistfight” – which included Poole earning a black flag. They ended the day 2-2.
Taylor Canfield (USA), as the frontrunner in Stage One, had selected Eric Monnin (SUI) as his opponent in the semis. A four-time Congressional Cup champion, Canfield ended the day 2-1 against Monnin, who has yet to win a Crimson Blazer. Their second race of the semis was abandoned due to a wind shift.
The 2021 Congressional Cup marks Monnin’s eighth attempt at the title. “For us it’s really cool to be in the semis: it’s our first time,” noted Monnin, who also was black flagged today. “We always struggle a bit on these boats and adapting to the conditions, but this is a big opportunity. We want to perform well so we don’t let that chance go.”