Photos: Bronny Daniels/LBYC
Poole holds lead in LBYC Congressional Cup Round Robins
Chris Poole (USA) remained undefeated on Day Two of the 58th Congressional Cup, as the fight for position in the semifinal 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 have been 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 and 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 few 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."
In second place, with nine points each, are defending Congressional Cup champion Ian Williams (GBR) and rising star Jeppe Borch (DEN). Borch's victory in the 2022 Ficker Cup launched him into his Congressional Cup debut last year, and his ascent in the sailing scene has been meteoric.
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 beams, simply sitting among the ranks of the world's top-ranked skippers at the nightly press conference. "It feels great. It's not the scoreboard we wanted but we're really happy, we've had a lot of great matches," 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 Match Racing Tour 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 semifinal 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 11:30AM