At one point on Wednesday afternoon, the 52nd Governor’s Cup international youth sailing championship seemed to be headed for a familiar outcome.
Defending champion Christophe Killian, a Corona del Mar High alumnus, Harry Price, Leonard Takahashi and Chris Weis were the four semifinalists a year ago. After the first of two round-robin heats in this year’s competition, the same four sailors seemed destined to make it back to Friday’s semifinals.
That may still happen, but the story of the second day of the five-day regatta was Jack Parkin, a 19-year-old from Connecticut who won the U.S. Youth Match Racing Championship last month to earn an automatic invitation to the Governor’s Cup.
Parkin and his Riverside Yacht Club crew beat first Price, then Takahashi in the first two flights of the second round robin off the Newport Pier. Parkin’s day ended with a loss to Killian, but he made things interesting as the second round robin continues Thursday in the event hosted by Balboa Yacht Club.
“Six races today, and we went 3-3,” Parkin said. “The races we lost were close, but those two wins in particular were pretty big. They were really close all the way around the course, all the way until the last downwind … It was really aggressive [racing]. Those guys are both really good sailors, and it’s pretty big beating the world No. 1.”
The margins are razor-thin in a 12-boat regatta that is regarded as very strong. Takahashi, who is representing Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and was last year’s event runner-up, leads the competition with 11 wins through 14 total rounds. His crew includes Josh Wijohn and Taylor Balogh.
Price, an Australian who won the Governor’s Cup in 2015, is top-ranked in the World Sailing Open Match Racing rankings. He sits in second with 10.5 wins. The reason he’s behind Takahashi is that he was penalized half a point for making contact with Scott Sinks’ boat during the first day of competition on Tuesday.
It was really aggressive [racing]. Those guys are both really good sailors, and it’s pretty big beating the world No. 1.
Killian, who won last year competing for Balboa Yacht Club, is representing College of Charleston Yacht Club this time around. He’s tied for third with Weis with 10 wins, followed by Parkin in fifth with eight wins and Sinks in sixth with seven wins.
“The people are so good here that winning and losing is just one decision,” Parkin said. “One wrong decision and you’ve lost the race.”
The other local is David Wood, who is representing Balboa Yacht Club. At 17, he’s the youngest skipper at the Governor’s Cup, but he’s currently in last place with three points.
Killian and Price are both trying to become the 11th two-time winner of the event. They remain in good position to reach the semifinals, and Killian said that is his only concern during the round-robin competition.
He said the less windy conditions Wednesday favored his lighter crew, which includes his younger brother Porter Killian and Jeffrey Petersen.
“I’m super-happy with today,” Killian said. “We had the same number of wins as [Tuesday], but with less losses. This is my first time sailing with my little brother and my bowman, Jeffrey. I had never sailed with them before, and hadn’t even really practiced with them at all. We started out a little rusty, and we’ve really been improving.”
The same four sailors may still reach the semifinals, but Parkin’s victories Wednesday prove that anyone is capable of winning matches at this regatta.
Takahashi, the leader, is well aware of that.
“It’s pretty close on points,” he said. “At the moment, we’re just trying to improve every race so we’re pretty good for the finals. We’ve been close every year. We’ve gotten fifth twice and second last year … We’re very motivated to win.”