We had the chance to participate in the 51st annual Governor's Cup hosted by Balboa Yacht club. The Governor's Cup is an international match race regatta sailed in custom designed sailboats. This year's competitors came from the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Britain. The team was skippered by Charlie Welsh with Robert Garrett on bow and John Horton on main. All three of us grew up sailing lasers and keelboats together which made our teamwork very strong the minute we stepped on the boat for the first time. The first day of Governor's cup was a practice day where the three of us got to sail the new boats for the first time.
We had practiced on the old model of the Gov Cup boats the week before, but the new boats were completely different. Even though the boats are only a foot longer, but the space in the cockpit is at least double and the boats are more high performance. Our favorite addition to the new boats is that the hiking straps and the dousing of the spinnaker is all done in front of the mast, making it quick and easy. Tuesday through Friday of the regatta was dedicated to a double round robin.
We won our first race in the regatta which set us up with a positive attitude. Conditions were little out of the ordinary for Newport, as we had great breeze throughout the whole regatta and we were able to get six to seven flights off each day. After the first race, we hit a wall for most of the first round robin. We were on the slower side of figuring out how to sail the boats, which meant the other teams could sail around us. The steep learning curve and classic Newport chop made sailing that much more difficult for us. Slowly, we got our sail trim in sync and the more time we sailed with each other, the better we got. We picked up several more wins throughout the double round robins. After the round robins, we entered the sail-offs which were best of 5 races. We were matched with Greiner Hobbs, another US team from Florida because we had similar scores coming out of the round robins. We had beaten Greiner in the first round robin, but he had us in the second. Going into the match we were all very enthusiastic, but knew anything could happen. Unfortunately, we got crushed on the first start and lost the race.
The next race was very intense in the pre start, but then we got a penalty and were not able to kill it, so we lost the race. We knew we had to win the next race to stay alive. We went into the pre start very ambitious and received another penalty. At this point in the day the wind had clocked right, so we tried to stay on the right side of Greiner the whole upwind beat. We got to the windward mark a couple boat lengths ahead, not enough to kill a penalty though. Fortunately, we were able to hold our gauge downwind and get to the favored gate mark to gain several boat lengths. When we got to the second downwind, we still had a penalty.
Greiner was hot on our heels as we aimed for the finish line. We quickly hauled the spinnaker into the boat, tacked around to kill the penalty, and hoisted the kite back up. We crossed the line just in front of Greiner to win the race. Greiner got the next race against us which ended the series and allowed him to beat us overall.
Although we had not performed as we had hoped to, we took a lot away from the regatta. It was a great experience getting to sail against top match racers like Harry Price and Christophe Killian, who ended up winning the Governor’s Cup. Our team is sailing in Youth Match Race Worlds held in the Gov cup boats in two weeks so the Governor's Cup was an excellent experience to get accustomed to the boats and figure out our team work skills.