The 53rd annual Governor’s Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship will carry a different tune than its most recent predecessor.
After the third day of racing last year, all four semifinalists had clinched their bids, with the only thing left to be determined being who would win the double round robin.
At the end of action in Newport Beach on Thursday, nothing has been decided. Six skippers remain very much alive for the semifinal berths, and none have punched their ticket to that stage yet with four flights to go.
Leonard Takahashi of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron leads the fleet with 14 points, followed by the Riverside Yacht Club of Connecticut’s Jack Parkin with 12 points.
Nick Egnot-Johnson and Jordan Stevenson, both of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, as well as Frank Dair (California Yacht Club) and Finn Tapper (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia), are locked in a four-way tie for third place with 11 points.
Takahashi, a two-time finalist at the Governor’s Cup, acknowledged that his crew is in a good position being up by two points with four matches left in the double round robin. He said finishing first in the double round robin and earning the right to pick his semifinal opponent would be a big deal, but he is also focused on what they can improve on.
Pre-starts have given Takahashi trouble at this regatta, and he was asked if he has seen progress on that end since the start of the event.
“We’re still working on it,” Takahashi said. “It’s loading. We’re still loading. We’re at about 99 percent. We’re still trying to get that one percent. It’s like a video game.”
Stevenson won his first five matches in the second round robin to give himself a chance to qualify for the semifinals on Friday.
“It’s pretty cool having our home teams all doing so well,” Stevenson said of all three Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron boats being in the hunt. “Everyone wants this win, and I think if we just go in with the mindset that … we’re kind of an underdog [and] we don’t really have anything to lose, I think we should end up doing all right, hopefully.”
Parkin may have the most favorable schedule of the skippers at the top half of the Governor’s Cup standings. His remaining opponents in the second round robin are Royal Danish Yacht Club’s Jeppe Borch (five points), Balboa Yacht Club’s David Wood (eight points), Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s Clare Costanzo (seven points) and Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club’s Cameron Feves (4½ points).
Even with his upcoming matches in mind, Parkin was reluctant to look ahead at a potential semifinal matchup.
“If you look at the rankings, everyone is super close, so in a sense, it doesn’t really matter who we race in the semis, if we get there,” Parkin said. “Knock on wood, I’m saying this with a lot of speculation, but I think it’s just going to be taking each race [one] at a time.
“The numbers are really good to think about and know where you are, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter in any way because it’s one race at a time.”
Dair had a frustrating afternoon in which he went 2-3, adding that he felt that his boat was “parked in the water” at times. He still has a chance to control his own destiny, with matches remaining against Takahashi, Stevenson and Tapper.
“As far as mentality goes, I just couldn’t care less about who I’m racing,” Dair said. “I just see them as another boat, and I’ll always back myself to beat that other boat.”
The contentious nature of this Grade-1 regatta will intensify with two of the contending boats set to miss the cut for the semifinals dance. In the event that a tiebreaker is necessary, the first criteria would be head-to-head race results.
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