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Balboa Yacht Club’s David Wood wins Youth Match Racing World Championship

Daniel Pegg, Marbella Marlo, Max Mayol and David Wood raise the trophy at the Youth Match Racing World Championship.
(Spencer Grant)

After the Balboa Yacht Club saw one of its own win the 54th annual Governor’s Cup just two weeks ago, the local club was treated to a scene that was twice as nice.

For the second time in a fortnight, members of the host club were delighted to see the end results of a world-class regatta.

David Wood beat Jeffrey Petersen in an all-Balboa Yacht Club final of the Youth Match Racing World Championship on Saturday, becoming the first American to claim victory in the event that started in 2014.

Wood rattled off three straight race wins in the best-of-five championship series for a 3-1 victory.

“I think our motto throughout the whole event was just get 1% better every day, and we said that this morning when we came out and had two really tough races against Emil [Kjaer of Denmark],” Wood said.

“He almost got it done and knocked us out there, but we were able to just slowly find our groove and improve our boat speed, and then once we got into the finals with Jeff, we just said, ‘Let’s put it all down in the prestart and just go for it because we’ve got nothing to lose at this point.’”

David Wood gets a victory hug from Becky Lenhart at the Youth Match Racing World Championship.
David Wood gets a victory hug from Becky Lenhart, sailing director of the Balboa Yacht Club, at the Youth Match Racing World Championship.
(Spencer Grant)

The Balboa Yacht Club skippers entered the day each leading their respective semifinal matchups 2-0, needing just one race win to advance. Wood and his crew of Max Mayol, Daniel Pegg and Marbella Marlo were forced to the brink of elimination by Kjaer.

Petersen, who swept his semifinal, had previously rallied to win the Governor’s Cup over Kjaer after trailing 2-1 in a final series that required all five races to decide.

His flair for the dramatic showed up again in the first leg of the final, as Petersen jibed toward the pin at the finish line to steal the first flight within the last 10 meters.

Despite losing the championship series, Petersen took solace in a summer of notable finishes. In addition to his Governor’s Cup win, he also won the Rose Cup.

“We’ve made the finals in every single regatta, so we’re super stoked,” Petersen said. “We had a great summer. We feel that we sailed really well today, and they just sailed a little bit better.

“We’re super happy with our performance, and a huge congratulations to David Wood and his team for an outstanding day of sailing.”

Skipper David Wood, left, Max Mayol, Daniel Pegg and Marbella Marlo bring their winning boat in at Balboa Yacht Club.
Skipper David Wood, left, Max Mayol, Daniel Pegg and Marbella Marlo bring their winning boat up to the pier at Balboa Yacht Club.
(Spencer Grant)

Wood, 20, was asked if he took pride in being the first American to win the regatta, and he trained his focus even closer to home.

“I think the biggest pride is having a BYC finals,” Wood said. “I think that means more than anything to us, and then to be able to be the first Americans to ever win it is huge to us.”

Petersen, 19, who set sail with a crew of Max Brennan, Scott Mais and Samantha Hemans, hopes to have more chances to keep the trophy with the United States.

“I think it’s really awesome to have the trophy in the hands of the Americans, and we’re going to do our best to keep it that way for some time now,” Petersen said.

Just as he did when Petersen won the Governor’s Cup, Balboa Yacht Club Commodore Tim Cannon had an idea in mind to celebrate a win for the host club, announcing that the bar would be open for one hour at the conclusion of the awards ceremony. Drinks all around.

Riccardo Sepe, left, and Jeffrey Petersen compete in the Youth Match Racing World Championship on Friday.
Riccardo Sepe, left, and Jeffrey Petersen compete in the Youth Match Racing World Championship hosted by the Balboa Yacht Club on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Italy’s Riccardo Sepe took the petit final series 2-1 over Kjaer to earn third place in the regatta. Sepe was one of just three skippers in the event who did not compete in the Governor’s Cup this year.

“We were super excited because it was our first time sailing here in this beautiful place,” Sepe said with crew member Simone Taglialatela serving as an interpreter.

“We found the conditions really suited us. It was the first time actually that we sailed these boats, so it was hard at first …, but then we started catching up with the guys, we started maneuvering well, we started sailing well.”

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