Frenchman Takes Congressional Cup

News brief, 5/21/07

NBConCupSt

Rick Roberts

On Saturday, Frenchman Mathieu Richard defeated Swede Johnie Berntsson in a best-of-three finals to win the Congressional Cup, a match racing regatta held in Long Beach, Calif. "I think we're the first non-Anglo-Saxon winner," Richard said at the dock as he and his crew celebrated with an international feast of champagne, pizza and hamburgers. "It is really a great event to win. When you look at the list of past winners, it's a very prestigious victory." Both Richard and Berntsson reached the final by dispatching semifinal opponents in straight sets, the former taking out Damien Iehl, the latter Simon Minoprio. In the consolation match, Iehl came back from a loss in the first race with back-to-back wins against Minoprio to take third place overall the regatta. Meanwhile, the six teams that failed to reach the sailoffs sailed a fleet race in which Russia's Eugeniy Neugodnikov finished first, Poland's Przemek Tarnacki second, and Scott Dickson third. Before the first start of the finals, Richard and Berntsson raised a combined six protest flags but drew no penalties from the on-water umpires. Richard proceeded to claim the favored right side of the course and maintain a tight lead and starboard tack control for an 18-second win. In the second pre-start, Berntsson, despite holding starboard tack right of way, drew a foul as the two turned upwind side by side. The Swede's penalty was nullified moments later when Richard failed to allow him room to slide upwind below him and drew the foul, a critical call that allowed Berntsson to sail freely to a 14-second win. In the deciding race, Berntsson held tenuous control of the right side of the course, but at the end of the upwind leg Richard executed a perfect a lee bow tack that put him ahead at the mark. Berntsson stayed close enough to capitalize if Richard made any mistakes, but that didn't happen and the Frenchman won by six seconds. Speaking after his victory, which earned him $10,000, Richard said, "My team did an amazing job during the week."His crew was Olivier Herledant, grinder-spinnaker trim, Frederic Rivet, pit-tactics, Thierry Briend, jib trim, Greg Eurard, main trim-tactics, and Yannick Simon, bow. For complete results, click here.