Poole and Borch to square off in final at Long Beach Yacht Club Congressional Cup april 22

Poole and Borch to square off in final at Long Beach Yacht Club Congressional Cup april 22

Congressional Cup: Poole and Borch to square off in final, april 22

Sport

22/04/2023 - 09:15
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Chris Poole (USA) remained undefeated in the first day of semifinal racing at the Long Beach Yacht Club Congressional Cup after sweeping the round robin series. As the world's top-ranked match racing skipper, Poole and his Riptide Racing team continued to demonstrate just how they secured that standing, in Day Four of this Grade One, World Match Racing Tour event. Poole will square off against Jeppe Borch (DEN) in tomorrow's final; Ian Williams (GBR) and Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL) will vie for bronze in the petit final.

After three-days of spirited round robin matches in idyllic conditions, frontrunner Poole had chosen to match with Egnot-Johnson – a predictable pairing of the first and fourth place finishers, leaving second and third place Williams and Borch to duke it out.

Semifinals commenced at noon today with Poole continuing his dominance of Congressional Cup racing, dispatching Egnot-Johnson in three matches. Skies were sunny, with a gentle southwesterly breeze fanning the crowd that gathered on the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier to watch the action.

Racing between Williams and Borch was testier. Although Williams had beaten Borch in both of their round robin bouts, Borch triumphed over Williams in matches one and two. Now the stakes were sky high in this best-of-five stage.

Williams came out swinging in match three, putting a penalty on Borch in the pre-start and keeping the pressure on. Williams took the lead, controlling the match but Borch gained steadily on each tack. At the top mark he was just one boat length behind: in position to attack and take Williams' wind. Jibing on Williams' breeze, Borch overtook his rival, and by the time they reached the gate, rounded first.

Still carrying the penalty as they tacked back up the freshening course, Borch's crew crooned their mantra, 'every meter counts.'

Now Borch was in control: holding Williams out and carrying him past the windward mark; luffing, head to wind, the shouting of the crews heard all the way to the pier. As the duo rounded the mark: contact! A flag on Williams scrubbed Borch's penalty; but the subsequent red flag – for gaining an advantage by breaking the rule – forced Williams to execute his penalty turn immediately. It was a setback even this six-time World Champion couldn't recover from, and they finished seven seconds astern of Borch to give the Danish team their third and decisive win.

Borch and Poole will advance to the final tomorrow; Williams and Egnot-Johnson will duel for a podium spot in the petit final.
"After we came in fifth last year, we made a plan for how we could become even better and make the semifinals this year," Borch explained. His win in Ficker Cup 2022 had earned him a berth in the 2022 Congressional Cup.

"So we made it to the semifinals and had to make ourselves a new target to reach the final. But in our way there was the six-time World Champion Williams," Borch added: still stunned by the realization they'd defeated Williams. "This is unreal!" Borch exclaimed, "those guys are the best in the game." He admitted his team had spent last evening watching years of videos of Williams racing. Now, he said, "We're hoping for an underdog surprise," as they face the undefeated Poole, "because it's definitely not going to be easy."

And Poole has made it clear: "I would love to have a Crimson Blazer." Will he remain invincible? Tomorrow's races are guaranteed to be a thrill, starting at 11:30AM off the Belmont Pier. Spectators are invited to attend for free and enjoy stadium seating, live commentary, and food and drink vendors.

First up will be a fleet race for the balance of the Congressional Cup contestants: Eric Monnin (SUI), Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Harry Price (AUS), Megan Thomson (NZL), Chris Weis (USA) and Dave Hood (USA). Then the petit final and final matches will commence in a best-of-five series. Prizegiving will be held at Long Beach Yacht Club shortly after the boats parade – under spinnaker – through Alamitos Bay and arrive at the docks. 

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