The Governor's Cup, hosted by Balboa Yacht Club, has been deemed by sailors as one of the most prestigious youth match racing events in the world, with past competitors including world number 2 Taylor Canfield, Keith Swinton, Chris Steele and our coach for the event Sam Gilmour now all ranked very highly in the world. The team, which was comprised of Lachy Gilmour on helm, Cameron Seagreen on main and bow and Alex Negri on trim, were excited and honoured when we were invited to compete in the 49th Governor’s Cup. The regatta took place during the California summer from 20 to 25 of July.
The team was already training hard when the invite was received, which pushed us to train even harder, sailing against Matt Jerwood and the Redline boys, Sam Gilmour, Peter Nicholas and the veteran Peter Gilmour at different times during the lead up. The month prior to the regatta, Cameron departed to Europe to compete in the 49er class, which at the same time made it hard to train as a team, yet allowed us to sail with various older, more experienced sailors who brought new ideas and information to the team.
Our arrival into Los Angeles was very much awaited and we were greeted by 30+ temperatures, which made the visit to America all the more better, being able to finally wear shorts, singlets and thongs.
The event consisted of 6 American teams, 3 Australian, 1 New Zealand, 1 New Caledonian and 1 British team. The training day provided us a chance to go and test out the unfamiliar Gov Cup 21’s on the body of water near to where we would be racing. With our coach and two time winner, Sam Gilmour, not yet in America, it meant that we had to resort to figuring the boats out on our own, with the majority of the other international and local teams all with coaches.
Tension was looming as we were towed 45 minutes out to the course a couple hundred metres out to sea from Newport Beach. Tough racing with a light to moderate breeze which made sailing through the short chop very difficult and also extremely costly which saw us taking a narrow loss to AJ Reiter. The first day of racing was a successful day coming away with 4 wins and 1 loss, placing us in equal second and a strong position going into the second day.
Coming into the day with 1 loss we wanted to make a big impact and greatly increase our final score on the leader board at the end of the round robin. The team managed to pull up relatively well and complete the day with 2 losses from 6 races sailed. With the boats being very hard to overtake on any part of the course, which made it difficult to come back from a penalty down against Jack Thompson from Newport Harbour YC and unfortunately conceded the loss. Another close race against Chris Weis, which saw us lead for the whole race controlling their every move until the final run saw a spinnaker collapse and a late gybe to protect our air. Weis managed to roll over and lay down to the finish line, finishing 2 lengths ahead. The rest of our races we won rather convincingly and were looking very strong in the boats early on into the regatta. Overall we finished the round robin on a 5-way tie with 8 wins and 3 losses, however claiming the top spot due to the tie break rules.
Day 3 signified the beginning of the quarter final round robin for the top 8 teams from the qualifying round robin. On this day of racing we had a perfect day with 5 wins and 0 losses. The team started out very strong in the day against Jack Thompson from NHYC with an early penalty on them in the pre start. This then assisted us around the course as we lead the race and inevitably gave them no chance to shrug the penalty off due to the consistent breeze and simple but strong covering displayed by the RFBYC boys. Leonard Fry came close to topping us in the third race of the day, he had a penalty that he carried though the whole race and just before the 2nd windward mark managed to get a penalty on us, which then cancelled his. We rounded the top mark close by and put in a tight set and managed to manoeuvre the boat into a quick gybe onto starboard. It came down to a simple port starboard situation and managed to get another penalty back onto Fry, only 30 seconds after he offset the first penalty. By the time both the boats came down to the finish line, he hadn’t yet completed his penalty, being only a few boat lengths in front, didn’t give him enough distance to put in his 270 degree turn and we consequently took the race win.
After such a good day it put us in a good standing for the semi finals for the following day.
To finish the quarter final round robin we managed to gain an additional win (Christophe Killian) and an unfortunate loss (Harry Price), which put us to 6 wins and 1 loss to top the rankings and have a choice as to who we wanted to race in the semi-finals.
We chose to race against Chris Wiese in the semis simply due to that we had beat him with relative ease compared to Christophe and Harry, and also because he didn’t have the best day of racing with quite a few losses. For the semis we had 3 races for the day and we finished the day with 2 wins and 1 loss in an alternating pattern. Quite happy overall with the day of racing but we knew we couldn’t get complacent on day 5 as Chris and his team still had the chance of a come back in a first to three match up.
We proceeded through to the final day of racing with a current 2-1 lead over Chris Weis and his team from Del Rey Yacht Club feeling confident enough to consolidate the win and progress through to the final.
The port entry provided us with a slight disadvantage however we viewed it as an opportunity to catch them off their game and get a jump on the start. After about 20 seconds of being dialled up and being the leeward boat, a sneaky trick allowed us to drift to windward causing them to receive a penalty from the contact that was caused. This allowed us to play a conservative race, however we still had to keep the pressure on for the remainder of the race. We managed to lead the whole way round the track and solidified our position in the final.
The other semi final match up continued through to 2-2 with a sudden death in the final race between Australian Harry Price and local Christophe Killian, the two top ranked teams going into the event on the first day. It was Killian for the majority of the race until the final run when the gybing dual began and Price put in a quick gybe and rolled quickly over the top to gain the lead and take the remaining spot in the final.
It was an all-Australian final!
A drop in the breeze and an increase in the wave size greeted the finalists, which increased the difficulty and required the boys to be on top of their own roles on the boat as well as the tactics and strategy of the race course.
Having come through the round robin and quarterfinals on top, we elected to enter on the starboard end providing a slight advantage in the prestart with the ability to control your opponent. In a series of circling around anchored spectator boats, the start gun was blown and the race was underway, unfortunately with a compromised start due to a lapse of concentration in the final minute of the start sequence. The first race consisted of long upwinds and downwinds with tack after tack and gybe after gybe in an attempt to re-establish the control of the race. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it past and conceded the first race in a first to 3 pairing.
The second race began under the same conditions however off the start, the tables were turned, Gilmour in the lead with Price trailing with some significant distance in between. The race remained the same and the scores were level, both teams on 1 win each.
The 3rd race unfortunately left us dead in the water as the gun sounded and we were playing catch up for the whole race and finally taking the loss at the conclusion of the race.
In the championship point race, both teams started evenly with a slight advantage to the RFBYC boys, however after numerous tacks and gybes, we were forced out to the wrong side of the course, due to a big set of waves, allowing the CYCA team to narrowly cross and take the win on the line.
An unfortunate 3-1 loss in the final left us in 2nd place overall in which we are still extremely pleased with. The experience and skills that the team took on board throughout the week of racing were massive and very beneficial. We are looking forward to next year’s 50th anniversary of the event in a brand newly designed type of boat – the Governor’s Cup 22
We would like to give a massive thankyou to Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club in assisting us to get over as well as in the lead up to the event with coaching and world-class facilities. Big thanks also go to our coaches, Pete Nicholas while here in Perth, in the lead up, and Sam Gilmour during the event, it proved a massive benefit to have both these coaches. Finally, we’d like to thank our sponsors, Kaenon Sunglasses, Zhik, Monkeyfist Marine, Optimum Time, our Californian sponsor for the event, Mark Harrison from Telescope Peak Risk Management, and of course Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club.
Lachy Gilmour – Skipper