The “granddaddy” of match racing, Congressional Cup, was established in 1965 and pioneered the concept of on-the-water umpiring. This year, 2018, marks 30 years of dispensing instant on-the-water justice.
The 1988 umpire team included Long Beach Yacht Club’s own Kirk Brown and Pete Ives as well as chief umpire Tom Ehman, Bryan Willis, Bob Fisher, Robbie Haynes, Dick Deaver and Göran Petersson.
Congressional Cup runs April 17-22 this year with an all-star, international lineup. Five of the world’s Top 10-ranked match-racing skippers will compete, including three-time Congressional Cup winner from the U.S. Virgin Islands Taylor Canfield, New Zealand’s Chris Steele, and Aussies Harry Price and Sam Gilmour. Swiss sailor Eric Monnin also will return, plus Denmark’s Joachim Aschenbrenner and hometown favorite Scott Dickson.
The reigning Congressional Cup champion, Great Britain’s Ian Williams, will be back to defend his 2017 title.
I’m looking forward to the week prior to Con Cup just as much. The final two skippers, rounding out the field to 10, will be decided at Ficker Cup, raced April 13-15. Both the winner and runnerup will sail their way into a Con Cup spot. The town will be hopping that weekend with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach downtown and Ficker Cup raced at the Veterans Memorial Belmont Pier.
The eight skippers racing in Ficker Cup are going to make for a great week.
Leonard Takahashi, who was born in Japan, currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand. He earned his spot in Ficker Cup by winning the youth match race championship. In addition, he finished second in the 51st Governors Cup. Ficker Cup will be his first experience on board the Catalina 37
George Anyon, a young sailor from Auckland, New Zealand, is a new up-and-comer, with multihull victories.
Vladimir Lipavsky, a powerful Russian attorney, brings keen strategic moves to his physically strong game.
Peter Hotz, a proven match racer since high school, has focused on learning opportunities at both the Chicago Match Race Center and racing at Oakcliff Sailing in New York, where he attends college.
Dave Hood, who gained his slot in a sail off, has the most on the water time on the Long Beach Sailing Foundation’s Catalina 37 boats. He has honed his skills with constant practice during Wet Wednesdays.
Johnie Berntsson, 2009 Congressional Cup winner, is a Swedish sailor. Berntsson finished third overall on the 2011 World Match Racing Tour and was awarded the title Swedish Sailor of the Year.
Frenchman Maxime Mesnil — ranked seventh in the world — took second in Match Race Germany in 2016 and won the European Championship in 2017.
And for the eighth slot: Terry Hutchinson, the 1992 winner, will serve as tactician for Dean Barker, the 2005 Con Cup winner.
Barker has participated in two defenses and two challenges for the America's Cup. After the 2007 event, his record as helmsman in Finals was 3 wins to 10 defeats.
In August 2013 Barker once again skippered Emirates Team New Zealand to victory in the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup — beating the Italian Luna Rossa Challenge team 7–1 in the final. He set a Louis Vuitton/America's Cup speed record in race #7 of 47 knots.
Barker and Team ETNZ then went on to Challenge America's Team Oracle in the 2013 Americas Cup Final and went on to lose the final. ETNZ at one point during the final series had won 6 of the first 7 races, ultimately going on to lose by a score of 9–8. It was the largest comeback in America's Cup history.
Terry Hutchinson is an 11-time world champion in the Corel 45, J/24, TP 52, Farr 40 and IMS classes, and a winning tactician of the Louis Vuitton Cup. In 2008 and 2014, he was named Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. Hutchinson has been part of four America’s Cup campaigns and, as skipper of Artemis Racing, he won the 2011-12 AC World Series Match Racing Championship.