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Jordan Stevenson denies Jeffrey Petersen in repeat bid at Governor’s Cup

Jordan Stevenson celebrates after winning the 55th Governor's Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship.
Jordan Stevenson from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron celebrates after winning the 55th Governor’s Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship at the Balboa Yacht Club in Corona del Mar on Saturday.
(James Carbone)

An unfortunate series of events could not prevent Jordan Stevenson and his crew from completing an accomplishment they seemed destined to achieve since a hot streak began on Thursday.

Despite opposition from the fleet and some unexpected natural elements, Stevenson pulled through to win the 55th annual Governor’s Cup international youth match racing championship in Newport Beach.

Stevenson, sailing for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, won the championship series 3-1 over Jeffrey Petersen, who was the defending champion representing the host Balboa Yacht Club.

Competitors in the Governor’s Cup must not have reached their 23rd birthday by the end of the regatta. Although this was Stevenson’s last chance to win the title, he said his crew did not feel any pressure because the coronavirus pandemic had kept them from competing in the event since 2019.

Jordan Stevenson, left, Mitch Jackson, and George Angus of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, hold up the Governor's Cup.
(James Carbone)

“It’s huge,” Stevenson said of where this win ranks in his career. “There’s not many events overseas that we’ve done twice. Down in New Zealand [and] Australia, we did most of the events once or twice, or maybe three times the ones in Auckland.

“It’s huge to come here the first time, figure out this stuff is actually really hard, and then come back a second time and win it. It feels awesome.”

Stevenson becomes the seventh different champion and eighth overall at the regatta for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Nick Egnot-Johnson was the most recent member of that club in 2019.

A run of good luck saw Petersen get back into the final after dropping the first two races. With the final and petit final both on the course simultaneously, the third flight of both matches was abandoned after the race committee was unable to move a course marker to adjust to the changing wind in a timely fashion. Stevenson had been leading at the time.

Following a third flight restart, Petersen owed a penalty, and he decided to rid himself of it on the second upwind leg. He lost the lead as a result, but he was bailed out by a clump of kelp that slowed down the Stevenson boat.

Jordan Stevenson, right, Mitch Jackson, left, and George Angus of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron sail into the harbor.
Jordan Stevenson, right, Mitch Jackson, left, and George Angus of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron sail into the harbor after winning the 55th Governor’s Cup on Saturday.
(James Carbone)

“We could never let it get to us,” Stevenson said, whose crew also included Mitch Jackson and George Angus. “As long as we keep punching and keep firing on all cylinders, then we’re all good.”

Petersen won the battle but not the war. Coming off victory in the Youth Match Racing World Championship in Pornichet, France, Petersen led the 12-boat fleet with an 18-4 record in the double round robin of this week’s regatta.

After going 6-5 in the first round robin, Stevenson won his first 10 flights on the back end before Petersen bested him in the last race of the double round robin to finish first in the group stage and earn the right to choose his opponent in the semifinals.

Despite performing well in the race pre-starts, Stevenson proved tough to contain as the trailing boat, especially on the downwind legs. He jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the final, before polishing it off with a “spin-and-win” maneuver in the fourth flight.

Balboa Yacht Club's Jeffrey Petersen, left, and Jordan Stevenson from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
Jeffrey Petersen of the Balboa Yacht Club, left, and Jordan Stevenson from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron congratulate each other at the 55th Governor’s Cup on Saturday.
(James Carbone)

“When we got in the finals with them, we knew it was going to be a great battle, and I think we showed that it was, indeed,” Petersen said of facing Stevenson. “I think a score of 3-1 doesn’t quite show how much of a battle it really was. Except for one race, the one that we won, everything finished within a boat length or less.”

After falling to Stevenson in a semifinal that came down to a decisive fifth flight, Jack Egan (San Diego Yacht Club) edged out Sweden’s Marius Westerlind (Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club) 2-1 in the petit final for third place.

Newport Harbor Yacht Club’s Morgan Pinckney swept Great Britain’s Robbie King (Royal Thames) 2-0 in the seventh-place series.

Jack Egan of the San Diego Yacht Club took third place for the 55th Governor's Cup at the Balboa Yacht Club on Saturday.
(James Carbone)

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