By Steve Virgen
6:38 PM PDT, July 19, 2014
Sam Gilmour simply smiled when he heard he was described as "hungry" to win the 48th Governor's Cup, by fellow finalist Nevin Snow after the semifinals on Friday at Balboa Yacht Club.
Gilmour acted as if he was starving on Saturday, and feasted on a repeat, coming back from two races down to win the best-of-five final and the Gov Cup.
Gilmour and his Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club of Australia team jumped in the ocean near Newport Pier to celebrate their thrilling victory against San Diego Yacht Club, according to exciting tweets from Balboa Yacht Club's Twitter handle.
Christophe Killian of Balboa Yacht Club, making his Gov Cup debut, won the petit final and finished third after beating Chicago's Will Holz, 2-1, in the best-of-three series.
Gilmour becomes the 10th skipper to repeat as Gov Cup champion. He shared his goal to compete in the America's Cup for Australia when he was interviewed during the BYC members' reception Friday night. Most know the international youth match racing event is where many sailors shine before going on to reach the height that is the America's Cup.
Gilmour could very well be the next in line.
"Two to one, we just knew we had to come back," said Gilmour, who last year overcame a 1-0 deficit in the final against Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron to win, 3-1. "That's just match racing. It's never really over until that last race. We dug deep. More props to Storm [Brown, bow] and Adam [Negri, middle], they did a great job today. They really stepped up their efforts. I really couldn't do it without them."
The victory was sweet revenge for Gilmour, who had lost recently to Snow in the final of the World University Match Racing Championship in Italy. Gilmour won that regatta in 2012. The two star racers will meet again in the International Sailing Federation Youth World Championships in Helsinki, Finland that start Wednesday.
"We had to jump in to celebrate," Gilmour said. "It was a great feeling, especially because Nevin and his team got us in Italy. It was great to get one back up on him. We are going back to Finland. I'm sure we'll have some close races in that one too. I'm pumped for that one.
"Nevin and his team did an awesome job this week. We thought we were done for. We are stoked to have come back. It was a great close finals … I'm actually pretty hungry now. I haven't had lunch."
Snow said he tried to sail a safe race in the fourth race and Gilmour went at it more aggressively. The final two races were close, both Gilmour and Snow said. The fifth race was like a tacking drill on the upwind, Gilmour and Negri said.
Royal Freshwater Bay took the lead after the upwind, where the race was won and lost, Gilmour said.
"I was maybe a little tense," said Snow, an All-American at Georgetown, who won the Gov Cup in 2011. "I think I might've been sailing the boat a bit more tight when I should've been more loose. You know, we were hungry too. It was an awesome finals."
Gilmour was obviously happy with the comeback. He said the steady winds provided the perfect conditions for their emotional win.
"On a day like this the breeze was really consistent," said Gilmour, the son of renowned Australian sailor Peter Gilmour. "Once you're ahead, you can just really hold your lead. We managed to do that."
Brown, from San Diego, sailed with Gilmour and Negri for the first time and thought it was "very cool," to win with the Australians.
Negri was ecstatic for Royal Freshwater Bay to repeat. Gilmour finished as the top team out of the quarterfinals and advanced to the final after sweeping Holz in the semifinals.
"We recognized that we were on the ropes," Negri said of being down, 2-1. "We just knew we had to dig deep and climb back from there. Kind of hang in there a bit. From there we knew the momentum had swung in our favor. With match racing sometimes it is a game of momentum and comebacks. We were happy to get up and get over them."
Gilmour and Snow have "termed out," of the Gov Cup because of their age, 20, and the limit is 21. Killian says that provides motivation for him. He also wants to end BYC's drought. The host club has not won the Gov Cup since 1980, when Jack Franco was champ.
"I'm definitely coming back the next three years," said Killian, a Corona del Mar High graduate who is busy with events the next three weekends before moving on to College of Charleston. "Hopefully [win] all three [Gov Cup regattas], ideally."
Killian, who went 6-0 on the first day, overcame a black flag penalty (disqualification) in the second race against Holz, but responded nicely with a big win in the deciding race.
Portland Yacht Club (Charlie Lalumiere) finished as consolation champ, ninth place.
Royal Vancouver (Richard Minielly) received the Chet Purcell Sportsmanship Award. Purcell and his wife, Glee, founded the Gov Cup. Royal Vancouver finished 12th out 12 teams. The Sportsmanship Award is voted on by racers and the event's umpires.
BYC's Ryan Davidson, which took third in last year's Gov Cup, finished sixth. Newport Harbor (Sean Segerblom) finished 11th.
St. Francis (Antoine Screve) was fifth. Royal Port Nicholson (Adam Middleton) finished seventh, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (Murray Jones) was eighth and Royal New Zealand (George Brasell) was 10th.