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Governor’s Cup 2018: Takahashi takes Price down to the wire

by Paul Blank, Balboa YC 22 Jul 2018 05:50 PDT 23 July 2018
Harry Price with the red spinnaker (AUS) bested Leonard Takahashi in the blue spinnaker (NZL) at the 52nd annual Governor's Cup presented by Farmers & Merchants Bank and hosted by Balboa Yacht Club © Tom Walker

Cementing his position atop the world of match-race sailing, Harry Price (AUS, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia) showed his prowess in boat handling and tactics in a challenging 3-2 win over 20th ranked Leonard Takahashi (NZL, Royal New Zealand YS) in the 2018 Governor’s Cup.

The final day of racing started with the same four sailors as last year’s semi-finals. But at the end of the day, it was not Killian and Takahashi, as in 2017, but Price and Takahashi facing off in the finals.

With strong winds and a sizeable ground swell, making a big impact on sailing and rigging, Price and Takahashi traded victories after two races. But in race number three, after a close start and both sailors beating hard off the line on starboard tack, Price suddenly found himself with half a mast. With Takahashi looking on, umpires quickly signaled the black flag, indicating that Takahashi would claim the race.

After both skippers moved to new boats, Price was trailing 1-2, needing a win to stay in the hunt for his second GovCup championship. After tenuous jockeying, both sailors started on the line on starboard tack. After Price tacked away for clear air, Takahashi and Price met again and again in a tacking duel to the windward mark. Managing a slight advantage, Price made the turn first, then used expert jibing to increase his lead to three boat lengths at the leeward mark. With both skippers staying left on the final upwind leg, Price maintained the lead at the turn and on the final leg to pull even with Takahashi at 2-2.

In the deciding race, the start is another example of amazing match racing tactic, with Price chasing Takahashi through the spectator fleet. Unable to achieve an overlap, both sailors reached the line together for a last dial-up, Takahashi nearly got stuck in “coffin corner,” but escaped as Price tacked away on starboard tack.

At the first cross, Takahashi had the lead, crossing ahead of Price. But instead of covering, he allowed Price to go right in clear air. This might have been the decision of the race as Price managed to force Takahashi to tack at the next crossing. At the windward mark, Price extended a small lead with an expert spinnaker set, while Takahashi struggled to set his chute. At the gate, Prices’ advantage grows, as it does again at the last windward mark. Little changed on the downwind leg, as Price claimed his second GovCup championship, securing his place among some of the best sailors in the world.

Christophe Killian (USA, College of Charleston YC) sailed past Christopher Weis (USA, Del Rey YC) 2-1 in the Petit Final having put Weis in the “coffin corner” at the start of their race, leaving Weis with little speed and two penalties to give. Weis never recovered.

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