LONG BEACH, CA 19 April 2023 – Chris Poole (USA) remained undefeated on Day Two of the 58th Congressional Cup, as the fight for position in the semi-final stage ramps up. Ten of the top-ranked skippers from around the globe are vying for the chance to advance in this prestigious Grade One match racing event, hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club.
Conditions could not be more idyllic for the sailors – nor spectators, volunteers and officials who took in the racing off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, with blue skies, and a cool breeze that built from 6 to 14 knots.
At the top of the leaderboard and undefeated after 12 flights, is Poole.
Chris Poole has been coming to Long Beach to race for a decade: competing first in Ficker Cups 2013, 2015, 2018, 2019; and climbing the rungs to Congressional Cup 2019, 2021 and 2022. Over that time he’s steadily ascended from sixth place to fourth, finally landing on the podium in third place in 2022.
Now, he says, ‘we are here to finish what we started last year’
“We’ve been trying to just constantly improve,” Poole noted. “After 2019 we realized we needed to take a new approach on how we train and sail, not just this event but all events. Part of that is having the right pieces on the boat – the right people in the right positions. And as much as it is about skill, it’s also about personality,” he continued. “I’ll turn down a more skilled person if their personality doesn’t fit. We’ve been putting in the time, building off each event and getting better from one to the next. In the last two years I’ve really seen that come to fruition.”
Concurrently, however, is another big change: Poole became a father a couple of years ago. “You learn to be more flexible,” he laughed. “I think I’ve gotten more relaxed because when you have a kid, nothing can really be too planned. That’s helped my sailing: not overthinking things. Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen so just go with it.”
Lying in second place after Day 2, with nine points each, are defending Congressional Cup champion Ian Williams (ChinaOne.Ningbo Team) and rising star Jeppe Borch (Borch Racing, DEN). Borch’s victory in the 2022 Ficker Cup launched him into his Congressional Cup debut last year, finishing fifth, and his ascent on the match racing scene has been impressive with a fourth place finish at the 2022 WMRT Final in Sydney.
Another Chris on this year’s Congressional Cup roster is Chris Weis (USA). A local 28-year-old sailor, Weis and team scrapped their way into the Congressional Cup by first acing the California Dreamin’ series – a three-race circuit taking place in Long Beach, San Diego and San Francisco. That earned them a spot in the Ficker Cup; their victory in that Grade Two event last week secured them a berth in the Congressional Cup.
Weis looks delighted simply sitting among the ranks of the world’s top ranked skippers at the nightly press conference. “We’re really happy,” he conceded. “We were at the bottom in Ficker Cup and worked hard to get here, and now we’re on the bottom this week and hope to work our way up again.”
Weis’ dryly named Dark Horse Racing team may not make it into the semifinals, but they can hold their heads high having raced with the best: including two wins over the 2022 World Champion Nick Egnot-Johnson.
Racing continues tomorrow Thursday April 20 through Saturday April 22. After completing the double round robin series, the top four finishers will advance to the semifinals and final stages. The regatta takes place directly off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier ‘Congressional Cup Stadium’ where spectators can enjoy the action and live commentary for free starting at 11:30. Live streaming will commence Thursday. Go to: www.thecongressionalcup.com for full details and links to results and live feed. Visit www.wmrt.com for more information on the World Match Racing Tour.
Current results at end of Day Two:
LONG BEACH YACHT CLUB
Established in 1929, Long Beach Yacht Club is recognized as a leading club in the international yachting community for its commitment to excellence in yacht racing and innovation in race management. The club’s signature event, Congressional Cup – now in its 58th year – is the preeminent match racing regatta in the United States and considered the Gateway to the America’s Cup. In addition to hosting numerous local, national and international yachting events, the Club’s member families enjoy a year-round calendar of social, yachting, and junior activities at its beautiful clubhouse on the shore of Alamitos Bay.
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 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 Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR), Taylor Canfield (USA), Peter Gilmour (AUS), Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Peter Holmberg (ISV), Adam Minoprio (NZL), Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Bertrand Pace (FRA), Jesper Radich (DEN), Phil Robertson (NZL) and Ian Williams (GBR). 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