Great Britain’s six-time match racing world champion, Ian Williams (Team Gladstones Long Beach) and USA’s Taylor Canfield (Stars+Stripes Team USA), have advanced to the final of the 57th Congressional Cup in Long Beach, California after defeating their respective opponents Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and Chris Poole (USA).
An unseasonal fresh breeze over 20 knots greeted the final four skippers of the 57th Congressional Cup today off the end of the Belmont Pier as they battled for a spot in the regatta final.
Past Congressional Cup champion, Johnie Berntsson (SWE), was paired with four-time event champion, Ian Williams (GBR). Canfield selected Poole as his opponent in the first-to-three points semi final series.
As the teams changed down the genoas to smaller jibs on the boats, Berntsson was first on the score board winning his match over Williams, while Canfield took first blood over Poole. The scores reversed in the second flight putting both matches at 1-1.
In Flight 3, Ian Williams took the lead over Berntsson as the umpires Black Flagged the Swedish skipper putting them out of the race. In the other match, Canfield defeated Poole to go 2-1.
Berntsson fought back in Flight 4 to even his scoreline to 2-2 against Williams and taking the match to a deciding final race.
With a penalty against him, Poole found himself with a convincing lead in the final leg of his race against Canfield and planned to offset his penalty at the finish line. Dropping his spinnaker just before the finish line, Poole turned the wheel to complete his penalty turn but the spinnaker fell in the water causing the boat to slow in the turn.
Canfield and crew saw the opportunity and crossed the finish line as Poole’s crew struggled to regain control of the spinnaker.
In the deciding match for Berntsson and Williams, it was Williams and his Gladstones Long Beach Team that found their pace around the track crossing the line ahead of Berntsson and securing his place in the final against Canfield and the Stars+Stripes Team.
Competing at her first Congressional Cup and the first female crew member to sail in a final of the Congressional Cup in recent history is 28year old Elisabeth Whitener from Charleston, South Carolina sailing on board with the Stars+Stripes Team USA.
As one of only two female sailors competing in the regatta, Whitener has relished the opportunity to sail with the Stars+Stripes team and has been an integral member of the crew line-up.
“I love this team and I feel extraordinarily lucky to be able to sail with these guys. I never thought I would have the opportunity to sail with the team and I am really happy to be part of the team” commented Whitener.
When asked what she brings to the Stars+Stripes team, Whitener added “I like to bring a big positive energy to the team. I try to keep the guys laughing and as the only woman on this team, when they dish it out, I can tell you I can dish it right back. I don’t take any attitude but it’s fun that way too!
“I hope that I am a good representative for women and girls who want to take a bigger role in sailing. There are a lot of times we get told we can’t do this and I am trying to prove that you definitely can.”
Racing continues on Saturday 23 April. Find up-to-the-minute results at: https://www.matchracingresults.com/2022/congressional-cup/