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53rd Governor's Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship - Preview

by Susan Kenney 26 Jan 09:43 PST 15-20 July 2019
Leonard Takahashi (NZL) avoids a `wipeout` against Harry Price (AUS) downwind in finals of 2018 Governor's Cup, ultimately won by Price © Mary Longpre

Balboa Yacht Club will host its 53rd Governor's Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship from July 15-20, 2019 and Requests for Invitation ("RFI") are now being accepted with all information necessary for filing posted on the event website.

Today's announcement occurs as BYC received notice that the sport's governing body, World Sailing, retroactively regraded the 2018 "GovCup" as a "Grade 1" event, which may be the first such top grading for any youth match racing event in world limiting participation to crews under 23 years of age. Most such youth events receive Grade 3 status with the GovCup among the very few that have ever been given a Grade 2. Regattas like Long Beach Yacht Club's Congressional Cup, on which the Governor's Cup was modeled, is also a Grade 1 event but most such events feature professional sailors.

Twelve U.S. and international teams will be invited to compete in the world's oldest and most prestigious of such youth match racing events and will then join some of the most famous sailors in the world as alumni of the event, including multiple America's Cup winner James Spithill, the skipper of 2021 America's Cup challenger Stars and Stripes, Taylor Canfield, and many more America's Cup, Congressional Cup, World Match Racing Tour, Olympic medalists and other accomplished sailors.

"Receiving Grade 1 for 2018 is huge" said BYC's Dr. Don Becker, the Principal Race Officer. "We believe it may be the first such youth series to achieve a Grade 1 designation and as such, it is a recognition of the quality of sailors we have at the GovCup but also a tribute to BYC and the Governor's Cup Committee in meeting all the other Grade 1 criteria", continued Dr. Becker.

The winners of the 2019 U.S. Youth Match Racing Championship, as well as the 2018 U.S. Intercollegiate Match Racing Championship (if age eligible) will receive automatic invitations if they file a ("RFI") by the April 12, 2019 deadline. A Balboa Yacht Club team will also be invited as the host club representative. The other invitees will be chosen by the GovCup Selection Committee based on resumes, with the final decisions to be made by April 26, 2019.

Bill Wakeman, Chair of the Committee, reminded potential entrants, "the RFI deadline is about a month earlier than has been the case in order to give international competitors more time to plan their trips to the U.S."

While last year's skippers were perhaps the best ever for the GovCup as reflected in the event grading, it is likely that this year's Cup will be at least a Grade 2 event based on the quality of skippers in recent years. The grading is based in large part on skipper ranking in the World Sailing Open Match Racing Rankings based on race results updated periodically throughout the year. "While we can't count on a Grade 1 ranking every year, the ability of these younger match racers to compete with older sailors with much more experience and achieve these unprecedented high rankings is remarkable", summarized Andy Rose, two-time GovCup winner and Chair of the event's Steering Committee. "We look forward to welcoming a number of them to this year's Cup", he continued.

The regatta will be held in identical "Governor's Cup 22" sloops designed and built in 2016 for the event, and in particular, conditions prevalent in Pacific Ocean waters off Newport Beach. They have proven to be among the best boats in the world used for similar events. "GovCup Week" will include a double "round robin" where each team will sail against each other twice. The top four from that stage will move on to semi-finals and finals, with the other teams continuing to fight it out for the remaining places.

Extensive media coverage has become a big part of the Governor's Cup with the Monday dinner, pre-race shows and press conferences broadcast live on the Club's Facebook page as well as on the water, drone and fixed base camera live streaming of the racing Friday and Saturday with expert commentary.

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