The 57th Congressional Cup (April 19-23) welcomes ten teams for what will be the start event of WMRT season. Amongst them, 5-time winner and Match Racing legend Taylor Canfield (Stars+Stripes). That makes SSL Team USA helmsman the winningest skipper in the 56-year history of the Cong Cup. U.S Virgin Island born is ready to get back to business in Long Beach, California. He talked to StarSailors.com about his team's objective (victory, of course) and his plan for Team USA at the next SSL Gold Cup, the World Cup of Football, but in Sailing (victory, of course).
StarSailors.com : As a titleholder, you are one of the favorites for this edition. How does it feel like?
Taylor Canfield: We are just excited to be back. It's unfortunate that there is not that much Match Racing at the very top level going on in the World. But the Congressional Cup is by far one of my favorite events and one of the most prestigious in the World. To get an invitation back is incredible, so we are excited to push forward and come back with another win.
How did your team get prepared for this event?
Fortunately, LBYC and some members opened their doors to us so we could use the boat and do some training leading up to the event. We have a couple of new crew members on board this year. It was important that we could go out there, have some time with the boat, and make sure everyone is prepared to go to the event.
There is definitely some of the old guard that we have sailed against for years now. So we are definitely prepared to go for these matches. And we know what to expect against Johnie Berntsson or Ian Williams. There are also a lot of new faces coming on the scene which is exciting. A lot of young guys who are pushing the sport. Like US sailors Jeffrey Petersen or David Wood. It's great to see these guys on the circuit and pushing like I once did back in my days. We have to go on in every races not thinking about who our competitor is, and just knowing we have a strong game to bring. We can beat any team out there if we sail at our best of our ability.
Stars+Stripes is also a development programme to bring a younger generation into sailing. Are you satisfied with the outcomes of the project so far?
There is always some work in progress. Not fully satisfied yet, but for the Congressional Cup last year, we had a development team. David Wood, one of the strong young Match Racers, came in. We push them forward to the next level of Sailing.
SSL Gold Cup is also a great opportunity for team USA to bring up new talents and experienced sailors together.
Absolutely, there is a lot of potential like people like Mike Buckley, co-founder of Stars+Stripes. He will be the tactician on SSL Team USA. Guys like Victor Diaz de Leon, who trim the mainsail, and a number of great sailors. It is a great opportunity for us to continue to grow as a team and grow as a Nation. It is great to have a full pro team together and push hard against the best countries in the World in the sport.
Will you also be involved with SSL Team USA Captain Paul Cayard to select the team?
We have a great group of mid-age to a younger age American group. And I am excited to work with that group. We had a great training block in Switzerland last year. We are excited to expand on that, and I think we will do a few more changes and a couple of more alternates in case we need some more sailors.
You are one of the most experienced sailors on the team. What will you bring to this team?
It's been decided I will be driving the boat, so I will bring the best of my skills as a helmsman. So hopefully, I won't let the team down in that sense! I am from a leadership standpoint and I want to make sure the team is ready and prepared for the event. I have been working with Paul to make sure we have the best team going into the event. We are excited to grow, and we need to make sure that we have this environment that everyone is able to have inputs into the team and come up with good ideas.
What are your objectives for SSL Gold Cup?
We are looking for opportunities to do one more training before the 1/8 finals, but other than that, we will come and push hard and hopefully come home Champions!