NEWPORT BEACH — While losing the first race in a best-of-five final of the 47th Governor's Cup, Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club of Perth, Australia found a way to flip the script against Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Sunday.
It might have appeared that skipper Chris Steele, Scott Barnes (middle) and George Brasell (bow) of Royal New Zealand had the momentum to become the champion. Royal New Zealand was excellent during the first three days of the 12-team junior match racing regatta with just one loss before Saturday's semifinals. Steele, Barnes and Brasell then held off a surging San Diego Yacht Club team that had fought back from a winless first day (0-7), winning 3-2 in the best-of-five series.
But skipper Sam Gilmour, Chris Smith (middle) and Adam Negri (bow) of Royal Freshwater Bay actually gained confidence in their loss in the first race of the final. They were assessed a penalty at the start and were required to complete a 270-degree turn before the end of the race. Gilmour had the lead in the beginning, but Gilmour later passed him.
"We knew we could get out in front if we could get the start clean," Gilmour said. "That was our mind-set into the next race."
Royal Freshwater Bay won the next three races and captured the Governor's Cup.
Skipper Ryan Davidson, Brandon Folkman (middle) and Gregg Kent (bow) of Balboa Yacht Club, the host, finished third after beating SDYC's A.J. Reiter (skipper), Storm Brown (middle) and David Larson (bow) in the petit final, winning, 2-1, in a best-of-three series.
It was BYC's best finish in 32 years, Andy Rose of BYC said. Rose, who provided commentary during the races and interviews with the sailors during the trophy presentation, knows plenty about the Gov Cup. He won it twice for BYC in 1969 and 1970. BYC last won the Gov Cup in 1980 (Jack Franco).
Skipper Jack Thompson, Michael Sabourin (middle) and Charlie Welsh (bow) of Newport Harbor Yacht Club finished ninth.
Skipper Adam Middleton, Sam Mackay (middle) and William Eastman (bow) of defending champion Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club from New Zealand finished eighth.
Sailors competed amid an overcast day and winds from the southwest at about six knots.
"The chop was pretty tough," Gilmour said. "The swell and chop actually built up from the day before so it was more tricky. You had to be more precise with the sailing otherwise you would get punished by the waves."
Gilmour was determined to win this year after missing the semifinals by one point and placing fifth at last year's Gov Cup with Smith and Jay Griffin. Griffin injured his hamstring a few months before this year's Gov Cup and was replaced by Negri.
Gilmour, who last year won the World University Match Racing Championships in France, said he was "stoked" to win the Gov Cup.
Steele, on the other hand, was disappointed.
"It was pretty frustrating and disappointing considering how well we did all week," Steele said of losing the final three races, the first of which included a penalty on his team. "It was pretty disappointing to end like that. There are so many positives to take away from the week. After a loss like that you have the tendency to be upset, and we are upset, but we did really well all week."
Davidson was pleased with BYC's finish. BYC won the first race in the best-of-three series, but SDYC took the second race. Then BYC clinched third place with a victory by a boat length in the final race.
"Can't say anything bad about it really," Davidson said of BYC's finish. "Happy to be here for the club and help put the club back up top."
Davidson, Folkman and Kent beat BYC's Christophe Killian and his crew for third place in the Rose Cup in Wisconsin last month to earn the BYC spot in the Gov Cup.
Davidson said Killian, who will be a senior at Corona del Mar High, helped the BYC team with the training for the Gov Cup.
BYC Coach Mike Pinckney said he was proud of the work and the time devoted to competing at a high level in the prestigious regatta.