Sunday, 27 March 2011

Ian Williams wins Congressio​nal Cup

Williams' mum was part of his winning team

Ian Williams and crew hoist the Congressional Cup and their $10,000 cheque. Image copyright Rich Roberts.

by Rich Roberts

Saturday's weather: wind SW 10-14k; overcast; high temp. 58 F.

This win was for mum back in the UK, and her pride in her son shined through Saturday's gloomy overcast that couldn't dim his victory in the Long Beach Yacht Club's 47th Congressional Cup.

Leukaemia claimed Ian Williams' mother Karen in mid-week, but he left his grief on the dock in driving his team to 17 wins, including a 2-0 sweep of defending champion Francesco Bruni of Italy for the championship.

A little pre-start traffic didn't bother the Brits. Image copyright Rich Roberts.

"It's a time to keep focused... part of the job," Williams said. "She was a keen sailor. It's what she would have wanted me to do."

Williams, 33, parked a barrister's career to pursue match race sailing several years ago. The move has paid off with two World Match Racing Championship wins and a tour card for automatic entry into World Match Racing Tour regattas. He currently is ranked No. 5 in the world with updated ISAF rankings late this month.

Williams leads Bruni upwind in their first match the finals. Image copyright Rich Roberts.

If Williams hadn't been here, Bruni might have gone undefeated. His only losses in 22 races were one to Williams by one second in the double round robin and the two in the title match by seven and 17 seconds. Williams' final count was 17-5. After sweeping former champion Mathieu Richard of France by one and 20 seconds in the semifinals, as Bruni blitzed Finland's Staffan Lindberg by 43 and six seconds, he never trailed against Bruni.

"It all depends on getting a good start," Williams said. "Today we called [sailing to] the right [side of the course], and we got the right in all four matches. Long Beach has a particular look to it. You can see the pressure on the water."

Williams' bowman Matt Cassidy checks Bruni's transom. Image copyright Rich Roberts.

His tactician was Bill Hardesty, a San Diego native who sailed as skipper for a fourth-place finish a year ago and knows these waters well.

"It's all about having the right outlook on the team," Hardesty said. "The outlook on the boat in the last race was the same as in the first race. When you lose that you make bad decisions."

Williams' team collected a check for $10,000 of the $41,500 total purse, which included a $1,000 bonus to New Zealand's Phil Robertson for winning the fleet race for the six boats that didn't reach the semifinals.

The total purse is $40,000, with $10,000 for the winner.

Ullman Sails was the sail sponsor. Friedman's Appliances was the pier sponsor. Time Warner Cable was the media sponsor. Hotel Maya was the official host hotel. Other sponsors were Yamaha, Farmers & Merchants Bank, City National Bank, Union Bank, Newmeyer & Dillon, Press Telegram, Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, Port of Long Beach, Gladstones, MCA, Creative Productions and Catalina Yachts. Visit all sponsors

Williams drives the boat past fans and Great Britain's Union Jack. Image copyright Rich Roberts.

Double round robin

1. Francesco Bruni, Italy, 17-1.
2. Tie between Mathieu Richard, France, and Ian Williams, Great Britain, 13-5.
4. Staffan Lindberg, Finland, 9-9.
5. Dave Perry, USA, 8-10.
6. Tie between Johnie Berntsson, Sweden, and Simone Ferrarese, Italy, 7-11.
8. Evgeny Neugodnikov, Russia, 6-12.
9. Tie between Taylor Canfield, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Phil Robertson, New Zealand, 5-13.

Williams d. Richard, 0:01.
Williams d. Richard, 0:20.
(Williams wins, 2-0)

Bruni d. Lindberg, 0:43.
Bruni d. Lindberg, 0:06.
(Bruni wins, 2-0)

Williams d. Bruni, 7 seconds.
Williams d. Bruni, 0:17.
(Williams wins, 2-0)

Bruni crosses Williams' bow in pre-start jousting. Image copyright Rich Roberts.

Prize money
1. Williams $10,000
2. Bruni $6,000
3. Richard $5,000
4. Lindberg $4,500
5. Perry $3,500
6. Ferrarese $3,100
7. Berntsson $2,700
8. Neugodnikov $2,300
9. Robertson $1,900
10. Canfield $1,500
Fleet race: Canfield $1,000

New Zealand's Phil Robertson leads non-semifinalists to finish of the fleet race. Image copyright Rich Roberts.

Congressional Cup