Published: Monday, 11 April 2016

Taylor Canfield and his US One Sailing Team triumphed in the Congressional Cup, Stage Two of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT), after five days of racing – making him the first Skipper to win three Crimson Blazers back-to-back, in the 52-year history of the regatta.

Record Three Time Win For Canfield At Wmrt Event 2

(Photos: WMRT)

The five-day World Championship event, held in Long Beach, California, had been besieged with unseasonable weather: light and shifty breezes, rain, and calms. But the racers remained composed about their participation in the Congressional Cup; known as the ‘granddaddy of match racing’ and a gateway to the America’s Cup.

Canfield beat Semi Finalist Scott Dickson (USA) of Dickson Racing in three successive matches, racing so close to the spectator-lined pier, that Dickson’s spinnaker grazed it; earning him a penalty he couldn’t shake. At the same time Nicolai Sehested (DEN) of Trefor Match Racing was dueling Neptune Racing’s Sam Gilmour (AUS) in a breathtaking Semi Final series that went to the full five matches. 

Gilmour defeated Dickson, to take third place in the event. “This is probably the best regatta I’ve been to in the world,” Gilmour said, speaking of both the level of competition and hospitality.

In the first of the finals, Canfield defeated Sehested handily, with a 30 second lead. It looked like the two-time defending champion had the title sewn up. But in the second match, Sehested retaliated, crossing the finish line three seconds ahead of Canfield. And as he rallied strong in the final sudden-death bout, it appeared that Canfield had met his match. Sehested led his rival by mere seconds around the course, then Canfield hit the leeward gate, and was flagged.

“I was definitely a little worried at that point. I made a simple mistake, a stupid error,” Canfield confessed. “But the boys were calm.”

Record Three Time Win For Canfield At Wmrt Event

Pressing up the course, he continued, “We had nothing to lose, so we parked it up at the top mark.” They luffed Sehested. “The execution was spot on, and Nicolai made a small mistake,” Canfield said, a penalty that scrubbed Canfield’s. 

“At this level, you make an error and your competition takes full advantage of it.” Back in control, Canfield kept Sehested pinned, saying, “I was very confident on that last run, that we were set up to hold them out at the pin end.” US One Sailing Team shut the door on Sehested, took the match, and the Congressional Cup.

He was pleased, he said, not only with this three-peat, but also for logging the seventh Congressional Cup win for St. Thomas Yacht Club. Member Peter Holmberg is a four-time Crimson Blazer winner, in 1998, 1998, 2001, 2002. “We’re closing in on Peter’s record, Canfield added, with a smile. “We’ve got a couple more in us, we’ll be back.”

Six-time Match Racing World Champion Ian Williams of GAC Pindar crashed out of the Cup after finishing 12th and last in Qualifying.

Record Three Time Win For Canfield At Wmrt Event 1

The World Match Racing Tour now moves on to Copenhagen, Denmark (May 9-14) where the battle will continue for the 2016 World title.

Overall Results

 1. Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One Sailing Team

2. Nicolai Sehested (DEN) Trefor Match Racing

3. Sam Gilmour (AUS) Neptune Racing

4. Scott Dickson (USA) Dickson Racing

5. Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing

6. Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing

7. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Nautiska Racing

8. Eric Monnin (SUI) Albert Riele Swiss Team

9. Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Flux Team

10. Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing

11. Sally Barkow (USA) Team Magenta 32

12. Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar