NEWPORT BEACH — The San Diego Yacht Club team of skipper A.J. Reiter, Storm Brown (middle) and David Larson (bow) has no qualms about being the Cinderella story of the 47th Governor’s Cup.
“We’re having a lot of fun with it actually,” Reiter said Friday night after SDYC completed a miraculous run into Saturday’s semifinals.
Reiter had lost his first seven races on Day One and then went 9-2 over the next two days.
“We’ve been quoting ‘Caddyshack’ all day, when Bill Murray says, ‘what a Cinderella story,’” said Reiter, making reference to Murray’s Carl Spackler commentating his own dream situation in the Masters just before rain falls, as he whacks at flowers.
Reiter is on a much different course in Newport Beach, but he remains pleased as the Cinderella against the favored Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, skippered by Chris Steele.
Steele finished first after Friday’s quarterfinal races and by virtue earned the right to select his opponent for his semifinal, which is a best-of-five series.
Steele said he’ll choose Reiter.
“You can shoot yourself in the foot with who you choose because they are all strong teams,” said Steele, who went undefeated in the quarterfinal round-robin series. “There’s probably not a right answer. They’re the safest one. If they beat ‘ya, then they beat ‘ya. We’re not going to do anything silly and we’re going to pick what you normally do.”
The 12-team regatta is now basically a four-team junior match racing series that will be settled this weekend.
Ryan Davidson and host Balboa Yacht Club finished as the No. 3 team after the quarterfinals and will race against No. 2 Sam Gilmour’s Royal Freshwater Bay of Australia in the semifinals.
Davidson, along with Brandon Folkman and Gregg Kent, is trying to end BYC’s 33-year drought to win the Governor’s Cup.
Gilmour went 6-1 in the quarterfinals, losing only to Steele. Davidson went 4-3 in the quarterfinals, falling to Steele, Gilmour and Reiter.
Reiter went 5-2 in the quarterfinals and had nine totals wins at the conclusion, tying with Will Holz’s Chicago Yacht Club. But Reiter had beaten Holz during the quarterfinals to win the tiebreaker and advance. The finals are scheduled to take place on Sunday at noon.
Reiter reached the quarterfinals after winning the tiebreaker against Charlie LaLumiere’s Portland Yacht Club (Maine) and Jack Thompson’s Newport Harbor Yacht Club after the first-round round-robin series.
“We’re starting to sail to what we feel our potential is,” Reiter said. “We’re working together better as a team. The first day, there was a lot of nervousness going into the event. The last guy to lead us into the event ended up winning the event (Nevin Snow in 2011). We put a lot of effort into trying to match his standards. After Day One we realized that was the wrong mind-set and we decided to sail how we sail. We had a lot more fun just relaxing.”
Steve Hunt, the SDYC coach, said Reiter, Brown and Larson showed they were mentally tough by staying confident after they were winless in their first seven races. Oh, what a slump they went through during that first day.
“There were so many things they were doing poorly,” Hunt said. “Their time and distance were off. Their tactics were off. Their speed was off ... Basically all facets of their game were off on Wednesday. But I knew they had more in them. It was also windier the first day and they are one of the smaller teams here. It wasn’t as windy the past two days and that was to our advantage.”
Hunt was also Reiter’s coach at Point Loma High, which captured the Baker Trophy in May for winning the Interscholastic Sailing Assn. National Team Racing Championship. Reiter is now headed to Georgetown.
He sported his Hoyas cap with the big ‘G” on it Friday night.
Steele also has an impressive resume. He’s shot up the ranks quickly in match racing over the past year. In New Zealand he said he is best known for his victory at the Optimist World regatta when he was 14.
Everyone knows Steele is favored in the semifinal against Reiter, but he is aware the Cinderella story can continue.
“We’re just going to focus on what we’ve been doing all week and stick to what we know works and hopefully that’s enough to get us through to the next stage,” Steele said.
For a post-racing interview conducted by BYC’s Andy Rose visit, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lv2iru4P1U.