Harry Price overcomes obstacles to win second Governor’s Cup crown

The final Governor’s Cup of Harry Price’s career could not have offered a more sublime conclusion.

His endeavor to become the 11th two-time winner of the event was successful, but not before navigating through the rough seas of adversity.

World Sailing’s top-ranked open match racer backed up that title, notching a 3-2 come-from-behind victory Saturday in the finals to defeat the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s Leonard Takahashi.

Price, a 22-year-old skipper representing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, sailed with Angus Williams and Harry Hall. Price and Williams teamed together for two Governor’s Cup titles, with the first coming in 2015.

A second championship did not appear to be in the cards when the mast snapped on Price’s boat on the third leg of the final.

“To be honest, we all just thought to ourselves, ‘What just happened,’” Price said. “It was one of those [shocking] moments.”

Price added that the issue put the pressure on his team, but he was proud of the way they refocused to take the final two races and win the series.

“I’m just ecstatic about how we were able to pull through after a pretty big setback with the mast snapping,” Price said. “It was really good fun, and I really enjoyed it.”

Chief umpire David Blackman made the decision to black flag the race, awarding it to Takahashi and spotting the 19-year-old a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five final.

“In this type of situation, there’s no bias,” Blackman said. “It’s just bad luck. You lose the race. It’s that simple.

“In this kind of racing, really high-level match racing, you don’t get redress if your boat breaks.”

Both finalists changed boats following the incident, but there was a feeling that the fleet at large wanted to see Price win the fourth match after a boat malfunction cost him the third.

Price and company pulled through, and the fifth match saw him sail through the finish line with a comfortable lead.

Takahashi called attention to the skills that Price possesses, including his ability to seemingly always win the down-wind portions of the race.

“Harry’s been very fast down-wind in all of the years that we’ve raced against him. It’s just a strength. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

“I think we did gain in some of those down-winds, but those waves made it pretty tricky, as well. You just have to keep chipping away, and I just think he did that better today.”

After completing the first two races of the best-of-five semifinals on Friday, Price opened Saturday’s racing by polishing off a three-match sweep of the Newport Beach native Christophe Killian (College of Charleston Yacht Club).

In the other semifinal, Takahashi and Christopher Weis of the Del Rey Yacht Club had plenty of work left to do, having split their first two flights on Friday. Takahashi took a 2-1 lead, but Weis battled back with a beautiful down-wind run to win a tight and exciting fourth flight by inches.

The rubber match saw Takahashi take control, using the early afternoon’s favored beach-side of the course to build a commanding lead. He went on to beat Weis by 12 boat-lengths and advance to his second consecutive final.

Killian defeated Weis 2-1 to take the third-place series.

A wind of 15 knots produced waves, leaving some level of question about what conditions would be like for the finals. If the wind strengthened to 18 knots, the competitors would not be allowed to use their spinnakers.

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner