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Defending champion and two Youth Match Racing champions lead Grade 1 caliber Governor's Cup invitees

by Susan Kenney 28 Apr 2020 09:01 PDT 20-25 July 2020
2019 Governor's Cup © Tom Walker

2020 and 2019 Youth World Match Racing Champions, Australians James Hodgson and Tom Grimes, respectively, along with "GovCup" defending champion Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL), lead the field of skippers selected by Balboa Yacht Club for this year's Governor's Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship, presented by Disc Sports and Spine Center. The Governor's Cup is the oldest youth match racing event in the world and the 54th Annual Championship will be held July 20-25 in the Pacific Ocean off Newport Beach, California.

The caliber of the skippers is reflected in World Sailing's Open Match Racing Rankings (non-age limited) with Egnot-Johnson in the #2 position and fellow invitee Jordan Stevenson (ZL) at #8. With virtually all of the skippers ranked in the most recent WS tally, the GovCup has more than enough "skipper points" to justify a regrading of the regatta by World Sailing to Grade 1, the highest graded regatta other than world championships, reflecting a quality of competition generally reserved for professional sailors. BYC believes the 2018 Governor's Cup was the first age limited regatta to be retroactively granted Grade 1 status in the world. The 2019 application is pending.

One of the more intriguing invitees is Leonard Takahashi (JPN), a record three-time runner up in the Governor's Cup. While Leonard is a world class match racer, since the last GovCup he has focused on 470 dinghies and was selected to represent Japan in the 2020 Olympic Games. With the postponement of the Games until 2021, Leonard decided to try once more to win the Governor's Cup. "Don't count Leonard out" said regatta Chair Christine Robertson Gribben, "I doubt he's forgotten how to match race!".

Both the United Kingdom Match Racing Champion (non-age limited) and the Youth Match Racing Champion from that country, Ted Blowers and Robbie King, respectively, received invitations. In addition, two very competitive sailors and GovCup veterans from "down under" also received invitations, Jordan Stevenson (NZL) and Finn Tapper (AUS).

Another favorite to win the Cup is from the United States. Although less experienced at match racing than some of his competitors from Australia and New Zealand, Jack Parkin's learning curve has been very steep, enough to raise him to the top ranks of young match racers with a second-place finish in the Youth World MR Championships in New Zealand earlier this year. He is also the 2019 US Intercollegiate Match Race Champion and won the USYMRC for the Rose Cup in 2018. He will be joined by Ansgar Jordan of San Diego, CA. Jordan is a champion dinghy sailor and was a semi-finalist in the 2019 US Intercollegiate Match Racing Championships.

Another US team will be selected since the final position is reserved for the winner of the US Youth Match Racing Championship for the Rose Cup to be hosted by the Rochester YC (New York) in late June. The first alternate designated by the Selection Committee will receive an invitation if he wins the Rose Cup, that event is postponed or cancelled, or David Wood—already invited to the Cup as the BYC host club representative--were to win the Rose Cup. Given the COVID-19 situation, US Sailing will be faced with deciding as to whether to postpone or cancel the event early in May.

The Selection Committee's invitations to eleven skippers has created the very competitive list which will be further enhanced by adding the Rose Cup champ. "This is one of the more amazing lists of skippers we've ever had", said Brian Bissell, Chair of the Selection Committee. "Literally, any one of these sailors could win".

For the second year in a row, the presenting sponsor will be Disc Sports and Spine Institute, founded by BYC member Dr. Rob Bray. One of the top neurosurgeons in the United States. Dr. Bray and his wife Tracey Kenney Bray are committed sailors and supporters at BYC and beyond. In 2013, Dr. Bray served as team doctor for the Oracle Team USA America's Cup team.

"We are again grateful for Rob and his wife Tracey's commitment to the Governor's Cup and for both his generous financial and logistical support", said Governor's Cup Steering Committee Chair Andy Rose. "We couldn't put on the event as we do without his support."

Identical "GovCup 22" sloops designed by former BYC Commodore Alan Andrews and built by Westerly Marine in nearby Santa Ana in 2016 will be provided to all competitors. They are optimized for Newport Beach conditions and are considered by competitors to be among the best boats used in similar regattas in the world. They feature a "flat top" mainsail, masthead spinnaker, modern "T" keel and an "all up" weight of only 1470 lbs (666 kg).

The 54th Annual Governor's Cup, presented by Disc Sports and Spine Center, will be held July 20-25, 2020. A double round-robin of racing is scheduled Tuesday through Thursday with the top four teams advancing to knock-out Semi-Finals on Friday; the Finals are on Saturday, July 25.

Again, this year the "GovCup TV" media team will live-stream the Monday evening "Meet the Teams" dinner, the racing on Friday and Saturday, and the post-race press conferences Friday and Saturday, and the Saturday afternoon prize-giving. Live "Pre-Race Shows" featuring a review of the previous day's racing, a preview of the upcoming day, as well as interviews with competitors and officials, also will be aired Wednesday through Saturday mornings.

For GovCup TV details, and all other 2020 Governor's Cup news, please go to www.govcupracing.com and subscribe to the GovCup Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bycgovcup.

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