The race that has started off in 1965, as a small and local annual event has now achieved international status and importance. Some 300 odd volunteers sweat it out each year to put it together for the veterans and the newbies. This is a Grade 1 level race that is only the finest sailors from all over the world can participate. There are some 60 odd teams from as far as Australia and as close by as long beach who are set to compete in this event. The first match race is due this Monday and this will culminate in the semi-final and final matches of the Congressional Cup on the 13th of April.
Each year, this event brings together the best sailors from around the globe to the feet of the Belmont Pier. As the streets dress up for the Long Beach Grand Prix, the beach is gearing up for the “granddaddy of match racing”. The crimson blazer is awarded to the winning skipper each year. Ted turner claimed it in 1977 before going on to win the America’s cup the very same year. Quoting this year’s race chairman, David Westerfield, “It’s a unique experience in sailboat racing that we get to bring to Long Beach.”
The “yellow hats” or the boat-fleet maintenance crew, the on-water umpires, the families that host the sailors each year are all volunteers. The race organizers rightly believe that since the inception, the success of such a huge and impressive event has rested on the shoulders of the volunteers. In its 50th year, the race is hoping to draw crowds greater than it usually does each year. Bleachers are set up and the on-lookers get a front row seat at the starting-line for one memorable Congressional Cup which has five of the top six ranked skippers from around the world.