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Daily Pilot

Governor's Cup: Defending champ clinches top spot for semifinals

Gilmour of Royal Freshwater Bay beats San Diego's Snow for crucial quarterfinal win. BYC's Killian in semifinals.

By Steve Virgen

11:04 PM PDT, July 17, 2014

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Thursday's final race of the 48th Governor's Cup pitted two past champions and proved to be especially crucial in the quarterfinals.

The race between Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club (Sam Gilmour, 2013 Gov Cup champion) and San Diego (Nevin Snow, 2011) was a doozy.

Snow held a two-boat length lead through the leeward mark, but Gilmour kept coming at him, closer and closer.

Gilmour, Adam Negri (middle) and Storm Brown (bow) took advantage when Snow's spinnaker was fouled on the upwind and Snow's two-boat-length lead was lost, Snow said.

"We were forced to come in an awkward angle to the last weather mark and [Gilmour] was able to surge ahead and keep the lead," Snow said.

Once Gilmour and Co. surged ahead, "it was kind of game over after that," Gilmour said.

Gilmour and Snow entered that final race at 4-0 during Thursday, but it was Gilmour who came out ahead to clinch the top spot in the semifinals for defending champion Royal Freshwater Bay.

Balboa Yacht Club's Christophe Killian is also in the semifinals as is Chicago's Will Holz.

There is one final quarterfinal round-robin series race Friday, which has Gilmour going up against Killian and Snow versus Holz. Then, Gilmour will select his semifinal opponent in a best-of-five series.

Gilmour said he'll wait to reveal his selection after the quarterfinals. But the most likely scenario would have him selecting Holz, who went 2-4 in the quarterfinals before Friday.

That would leave Killian, the Gov Cup rookie, taking on Snow. The teams split in their two meetings in this Gov Cup.

"The way we see it everyone has an equal chance of winning now," said Killian, who is trying to end Balboa's 33-year drought of a Gov Cup champion. "None of the scores count anymore so it doesn't matter where we are. Everybody has a chance to win."

Killian was asked who he picks to win the Gov Cup.

"Us," he said before smiling. "I don't know. I can see Nevin and Sam not having to face each other in the semifinals. I can see them two being in the final."

Snow and Gilmour were recently in the final of the World University Match Racing Championship in Italy, where Snow came out on top. Gilmour won the regatta in 2012.

The two skippers are big reasons why this Gov Cup is being hailed as one of the best ever. Snow is an All-American at Georgetown. Gilmour comes from a distinguished background, as his father, Peter, is a decorated Australian skipper, the only four-time World Match racing Tour Champion. And Gilmour's older brother, David, is on Australian's America's Cup team.

"To be honest, it really motivates me to do better because I don't want to be below any of my brothers," said Gilmour, who is the second of three brothers.

He certainly did well Thursday with the five wins. He gave Negri and Brown a lot of credit, and said Brown of San Diego has improved during the Gov Cup, as this is his first time sailing with Gilmour and Negri. Plus Brown isn't usually bow.

"He's done a great job and he's one of the reasons we are doing well," Gilmour said of Brown.

Snow is skipper of a "dream team" with fellow Georgetown standout AJ Reiter (middle) and Jake Reynolds (bow), an All-American for College of Charleston.

Snow beat Killian to prevent Balboa any chance of the top spot for semifinals.

"I had a stupid penalty in the pre-start," Killian said of the race against Snow. "It shouldn't have happened. It won't happen again. And, [Snow] just pulled away."

The Gov Cup finals, also a best-of-five series, are scheduled for Saturday in the ocean near Newport Pier.

Balboa has another team in the Gov Cup, skippered by Ryan Davidson, who finished third last year. Davidson went 3-3 in the quarterfinals before Friday and has eight wins along with Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (Murray Jones), Royal Port New Zealand Yacht Squadron (George Brasell) and St. Francis (Antoine Screve).

"I've been sailing against Nevin, Christophe and Sam for a couple of years now," Holz said. "Nevin in college is really good. I've been sailing against Sam the past two years at this regatta. I know he's very strong in match racing. Christophe is a young gun, but it's all good competition. These are probably the four that should've gone through."