As sailing factories go, the Governor’s Cup is pretty special. Morgan Larson, John Kostecki, Paul Cayard, Jimmy Spithill, Mark Reynolds, Stan Honey, Taylor Canfield and Dennis Durgan are all alumni, amongst others, of this match racing behemoth. It’s a ‘rite’ of passage.
Those superstars all cut their teeth as young pups at the Governor’s forging a way into the pro ranks. Some won. Many didn’t. Tales amongst the pros and their crews who look back misty-eyed at this brilliant pathway regatta of so near yet so far, of successive runner-up slots, near misses, I ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ are many. The GovCup as it’s known, is not only a brute to win but a proving ground, a moment in your young racing life that can lead to untold avenues along pro-sailing’s rich avenue.
Covid’s done its best this year to try and derail the juggernaut and the fun by limiting the number of international participants but the event is up and running with some of the brightest American talent coming up full-square against brave Danes, French and Swedes who have endured the PCR tests, the quarantines and the endless questions on their way to the Balboa Yacht Club (no relation to Rocky) on Newport Beach California. All credit to the organisers for getting it going and carrying on the tradition.
This is the moment for Jeffrey Petersen to build a name in the game. Or maybe it’s Emil Kjaer from Denmark that will take the crown this year. These two look like the stand-out contenders, the heavyweights and future superstars. Write the names down in your forward diary or perhaps ink Morgan Pinckney in too, who at 16 is competing with the very best. Sixteen year olds become twenty-somethings in their prime with no self doubt and killer instincts all too quickly.
Match racing is a stupidly tough discipline requiring precision, grunt, finesse, more grunt, athleticism and a preferred skill in dizziness control – particularly if you’re on the mainsheet. Banzai racing where a degree in the Racing Rules is a pre-requisite, a masters in rope unfurling and a doctorate in time-on-distance is everything. Literally everything. I’ve done match-racing and I’m done with it now. Too frenetic to participate in but wonderful to watch and one of those sports that when you see it done well, looks so easy. The new generation at the Governor’s Cup 2021 are all making it look easy…
And the Balboa Yacht Club strikes me as a Club worth visiting – short on UK reciprocal clubs admittedly (I might have to carry a burgee or two over when I visit) – but from a wooden structure on the shoaly, sandy shores of Newport Beach in 1922 as the Southland Sailing Club, it has blossomed into one of the most prestigious clubs in America.
Commodore Tom Cannon is supported by a first-class team of Directors and Club Officials and this summer not only do they have the Governor’s Cup but also the Youth Match Racing World Championships in mid August whilst keeping the Thursday night ‘Beer Cans’ racing going for the locals. Looking at the results of last Thursday’s ‘Beer Cans’ there’s a healthy smattering of J124’s, J120’s, a Davidson 34, an Andrews 49.9 and an ID48 amongst others so we can assume it’s a healthy scene and a good crowd in the bar afterwards. My kinda place…
But the Governor’s Cup is brewing up nicely. Overnight Jeffrey Petersen from the host club remains unbeaten as befits the newly-crowned, reigning US Match Race Youth Champion. A place in the semis is virtually guaranteed alongside Emil Kjaer whilst the rest of the fleet goes into a one-shot repechage to decide the other semi-finalists.
Good racing in the specifically designed and built Governor’s Cup 22’s which were commissioned in 2016 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the event. Typical of the can-do attitude of the Americans, they got a fleet of perfect weaponry, dial in the perfect weather on cue and run this brilliant event like clockwork every year. Great to see youth at play and the Balboa YC giving so much back into the sport.
Chalk the names of the current crop in your memory banks. These kids are coming fast onto the world scene and put the Balboa YC on your bucket list – a warm welcome is guaranteed at Corona del Mar.
Just remember – no hats in the dining room and tipping of the staff is prohibited. Shame, as they deserve every cent…