Youth match racing skippers sail for stardom in 53rd Governor’s Cup

New Zealand's Leonard Takahashi, seen at the 52nd Annual Governor's Cup on July 20, 2018, will be a favorite to win the regatta this year. Takahashi has finished as the runner-up in back-to-back Governor's Cups.
New Zealand’s Leonard Takahashi, seen at the 52nd Annual Governor’s Cup on July 20, 2018, will be a favorite to win the regatta this year. Takahashi has finished as the runner-up in back-to-back Governor’s Cups.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

The Governor’s Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship prides itself on being a gateway event for future stars in the sport of sailing.

So it was proven true once again last year, when Australia’s Harry Price won his second title at the prestigious tournament in his swan song.

The invitation-only event brings together many of the best sailors from around the globe, but they must be no older than 22 years of age.

Price now ranks second in World Sailing’s open match racing rankings, delivering on the promise shown by many of the alumni of the world’s oldest youth match racing regatta.

The 53rd Governor’s Cup, hosted by Balboa Yacht Club in Newport Beach, begins on Monday and runs through Saturday, and a fleet of 12 skippers will vie for their first victory in the event. The competitors will hail from six different countries – Australia, Denmark, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States.

There will be several veterans returning, most notably Leonard Takahashi of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Takahashi has finished as the runner-up in each of the last two years of Governor’s Cup action.

The regatta will also feature three skippers currently ranked inside the top 25 in the world for open match racing.

Nick Egnot-Johnson, who is No. 11 in the world, also comes from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. He has won the Hardy Cup (Australia), Nespresso Cup (New Zealand) and the overall U.S. Grand Slam Match Racing Championship in advance of his Governor’s Cup debut.

Jordan Stevenson will also represent the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Great Britain’s Matt Whitfield of the Penarth Yacht Club, ranked No. 21 in the world, will be competing in his third and final Governor’s Cup.

Mans Holmberg of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club comes into the Governor’s Cup ranked No. 23 in the world. He has experience competing on the professional World Match Racing Tour.

Clare Costanzo, another veteran of the Governor’s Cup, will also make her third and final appearance at the regatta. The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club product is ranked No. 13 in World Sailing’s women’s match racing rankings. Her previous best finish in the event was sixth place in 2017.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Finn Tapper will look to follow in the footsteps of, or at least catch the winning winds, that his fellow countryman in Price rode to victory in 2015 and 2018.

Jeppe Borch of the Royal Danish Yacht Club rounds out the international sailors competing at this year’s Governor’s Cup.

The American contingent of skippers includes Jack Parkin, Frank Dair, Cameron Feves and David Wood.

Parkin, who represents the Riverside Yacht Club and the Stanford sailing team, makes his second Governor’s Cup appearance after nearly qualifying for the semifinals last year.

Dair (California Yacht Club) has connections to New Zealand, as he went to school there. He will try to keep pace with Takahashi, one of this year’s favorites.

Feves (Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club) earned entry into the Governor’s Cup by winning the U.S. Youth Match Racing Championship for the Rose Cup.

Wood will represent the host Balboa Yacht Club after besting fellow BYC competitor Jeffrey Petersen in the petit final of the Rose Cup. The former Rose Cup champion will sail in his third Governor’s Cup. He is still just 18 years old.


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