Every year a tough and talented fleet is expected at the Governor's Cup, the youth international match racing event.
But the 48th Gov Cup seems to be the most combative yet with two past champions, a fierce rookie and some of the best young skippers when it comes to match racing.
The elite competition was on display during the second day of the Gov Cup, as that fierce rookie, Christophe Killian of host Balboa Yacht Club, won the round robin of the 12 teams but then lost the first race of the top-eight round-robin series to close out Wednesday's action in the ocean near Newport Pier.
It would not be apt to say Murray Jones and Cruising Yacht Club of Australia pulled off a stunner when beating Killian to begin the quarterfinals on a day of steady wind conditions of about eight knots coming from the west.
"We had them the whole time by a pretty good length but then we had a bad leeward mark rounding and [Jones] slid right past us," Killian said. "Every one is going to be really hard to beat. [Jones] showed us. He was eighth and he beat us. Nobody is unbeatable."
Killian, Harrison Vandervort (middle) and Jack Martin (bow) had an epic first day Tuesday, going 6-0 with wins against the aforementioned two past champions Royal Freshwater Bay (Sam Gilmour, 2013) and San Diego (Nevin Snow, 2011).
Gilmour also had nine wins in the initial round-robin series but loss the tiebreaker to Killian due to Balboa's first-day win against the defending champion.
Chicago Yacht Club (Will Holz) finished third in the round robin with eight wins. Snow took the fourth spot with seven wins, including a victory against St. Francis (Antoine Screve), which also had seven wins and was fifth.
Royal Port Nicholson (Adam Middleton) finished sixth with six wins in the round robin and Balboa's Ryan Davidson, who finished third last year, entered the quarterfinals as No. 7 with five wins in the round robin.
Davidson, Brandon Folkman (middle) and Gregg Kent (bow) opened the quarterfinals with a big win against Gilmour.
Middleton and Snow also started the quarterfinals with wins against Holz and Screve, respectively. It's looking like anybody's Gov Cup.
"It's tough competition," said Newport Harbor's Sean Segerblom, who beat Killian during the first round robin. "They're all good sailors. It's good racing. It's been a heck of an experience."
Segerblom was just outside the top eight and says he hopes to finish ninth. He opened the consolation round-robin series with a win against Royal Vancouver (Richard Minielly). Portland's Charlie Lalumiere also won to start the consolation against Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's George Brasell.
Racing continues Thursday to determine the four semifinalists, as scores/wins carry over from the first round for the quarterfinals. The top team of the four will choose its semifinal opponent in a best-of-five series to advance to the finals, also a best-of-five series.
The Gov Cup ends Saturday. The regatta is also known for its exciting events for the young racers and fans throughout the week. There will be a members' reception Friday featuring viewing of the America's Cup. Saturday's award ceremony will also be an important part of the eventful week.
Killian says he's nervous when hears about Balboa's drought in the Gov Cup. Balboa has not won since 1980 when Jack Franco won the coveted trophy. Yet Killian says that fact also pushes his team to do better.
However he knows it will be extremely difficult against the remaining seven.
"Any body can be beat," said Killian, who also lost to Screve earlier Wednesday. "We're no different. Just because we did good [Tuesday] doesn't mean we're always going to do good."