Who are these guys? Some familiar names for many of you. For starters, Ed Baird and Terry Hutchinson are sailing together. This may be the first time in Congo Cup history two J/24 World Champions sailed together! My goodness, now that's a "brain trust". They're up against Ian Williams from United Kingdom who's also got a bit of UK/ European J/24 sailing in his background. Then their's Frenchman Mathieu Richard who has both J/24 and J/80 French sailing on his resume.
Perhaps what is amazing most of the pundits covering the event is that Mathieu Richard hasn't match-raced in seven months; Ian Williams had been laid off for five months of match-racing; and Ed Baird has been off match-racing for years. And, yet they're all leading the event. More news next week to see how this group of J/alumni are doing against some of the world's best match-racers. Heck, maybe one of them wins the $50,000 USD first prize and wears the "crimson blazer"!
Up against this trio are New Zealand’s Laurie Jury, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Taylor Canfield (someone else with J/24 and IC/24 experience), Switzerland’s Eric Monnin, Italy’s Simone Ferrarese, Australia’s Jordan Reece and New Zealand’s Adam Minoprio.
How did Baird and Hutchinson, both Congo Cup winners themselves, join together? Hutchinson was invited back this year, two days before he learned he was asked to team up with Baird in a Quantum Sails-sponsored TP52 campaign in Europe. Since Baird will be driving that boat, Hutchinson figured they should team up here. “Since we’re going to be sailing together this summer,” Baird said, “Terry thought this would be a good place to start.” Yes. Good idea, Ed! Use Congo Cup as practice for TP52s, we'll see. More importantly, the J World wishes all three teams good luck!