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Morgan Pinckney (USA) and Justin Callahan (USA) qualify for 56th Governor's Cup

by Susan Kenney 26 Jun 2023 01:21 PDT July 24-29, 2023
Morgan Pinckney on the stern of Justin Callahan at a pre-start in the 2022 U.S. Youth Match Racing Championship for the Rose Cup. Both skippers qualified for the Governor's Cup in this year's Rose Cup © Bronny Daniels

The twelve-team field for the 56th-annual Governor's Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship is now final, with a record eight countries represented. Joining the ten skippers already invited are Morgan Pinckney of Newport Beach, California and Justin Callahan of Miami, Florida, based on their success at the U.S. Youth Match Racing Championship for the Rose Cup that ended Sunday (25 June) in Sheboygan, WI.

The Governor's Cup is presented by Disc Sports & Spine Center and Terry Causey / Call of the Sea foundation. The prestigious invitational event is for sailors who have not reached their 23rd birthday by the last day of the regatta. It is the world's oldest international youth match racing championship. "Alumni" have competed in, and won, the America's Cup, the Congressional Cup, Olympic medals, the World Match Racing Tour Championship and — perhaps surprisingly given the difference in the sport's disciplines — the 'Round the World Race (now, "The Ocean Race").

The "GovCup" Selection committee had designated the top two finishers in the Rose Cup to receive invitations provided the skippers had previously indicated that he or she could sail in the GovCup if invited. Since the Rose Cup winner, Chapman Petersen, has a conflict with an important pre-Olympic regatta in the ILCA class, Pinckney, who made the Rose Cup finals but could not repeat his 2022 win, received the first invitation. The Rose Cup petit-final came down to two eligible competitors, and Callahan was able to prevail over Michael Kirkman to place third and receive the second invitation. Callahan and Pinckney were the finalists in last year's Rose Cup, with many observers saying it was one of the best match-racing series in memory. The two good friends will renew their rivalry at the GovCup and in a future intercollegiate sailing version of "The Game," (the name for the annual Harvard-Yale football game), as this fall Callahan will start his sophomore year at Harvard and Pinckney his freshman year at Yale.

These two superb young sailors will face tough competition from all over the world. Early favorites would have to include 2021 GovCup champ Jeffrey Petersen from the host Balboa Yacht Club who finished second last year and is the reigning Youth Match Race World Champion. Josh Hyde (NZL) from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will also be a strong contender, as will veteran Cole Tapper (AUS) from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

While all the international entrants have at least one youth national championship to their credit in their own countries, and are accomplished dinghy sailors, they are new to the GovCup. The racing starts with a double Round-robin where every team sails against each of the other teams twice. The top four advance out of the Round-robins into the Semi-finals, with the Semi winners meeting in the Final on Saturday, July 29. Over the decades this format has proven popular with sailors and spectators alike, as well as the live TV audience. The format can also cause some surprises — many previous semi-finalists, and even winners, have succeeded despite a number of losses in the round-robins.

Petersen said it is going to be a tough regatta. "We take pride in studying our competition beforehand through film and watching them at other competitions to see their tactical tendencies, speed, etc. This new crop of GovCup sailors are mostly unknown to us, and on paper as a group they look very strong."

The championship is sailed in identical "Governor's Cup 22" sloops provided by the Newport Balboa Sailing & Seamanship Association and Balboa YC. Designed by famed yacht designer and BYC Staff Commodore Alan Andrews, they feature fractional rigs, flat-top mains and masthead spinnakers. They have proved perfectly suited to racing in wind speeds of as little as 4-5 knots, but also perform well and are exciting to sail in the unusually windy 18-20 knot conditions that were prevalent in the 2021 GovCup.

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