Takahashi claims 2nd place at Govs Cup, Killian ends Balboa Yacht Club’s 37 year drought
The Governor’s Cup is Balboa Yacht Club’s crown jewel sailing event of the year. Now Balboa Yacht Club can say the trophy belongs to it this year.
Thirty-seven years had gone by since host Balboa Yacht Club last won the world’s oldest youth match racing regatta off the waters in Newport Beach. Skipper Christophe Killian and his crew of Harrison Vandervort and Jack Martin ended Balboa Yacht Club’s drought on Saturday.
Killian and Balboa Yacht Club defeated Ryo Leonard Takahashi’s Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron 3-1 in the best-of-five championship at the 51st Governor’s Cup.
“Finally done,” said a soaked Killian of the drought. “It hasn’t really fully hit me. I just feel a little bit dizzy.”
Killian, a Corona del Mar High alumnus, joins Argyle Campbell, Andy Rose, Mark Rastello, Brad Wheeler and Jack Franco as the only skippers to lead Balboa Yacht Club to a Governor’s Cup title.
The last to pull it off was Franco in 1980, and during the last couple of years, Killian kept hearing about how long it had been since Balboa Yacht Club won it all.
“There’s always lots of pressure,” Killian said.
The 20-year-old handled the high expectations remarkably well during the five-day regatta, which featured a dozen boats. Balboa Yacht Club finished 18-4 during round-robin action and 6-1 when it mattered the most, the semifinals and finals.
Killian, Vandervort and Martin, in their first Governor’s Cup finals appearance together, delivered the goods. They had Balboa Yacht Club in contention the previous three years, reaching the semifinals each time. Third is how they finished each time.
This year, Killian, Vandervort, and Martin, both Newport Harbor graduates, broke through. There would be no third-place match again for them.
Third place went to the crew Balboa Yacht Club beat to get to the finale, Christopher Weis of Marina del Rey Yacht Club. Weis upset Harry Price, World Sailing’s No. 6-ranked skipper in open match racing, and his Cruising Yacht Club of Australia crew 2-1 in the best-of-three petit finals. Price placed fourth for the second straight year.
Clare Costanzo and her all-female crew with Australia’s Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club finished fifth. Costanzo and Jessica Angus, Emma May and Hannah Lanz won the best-of-three fifth-place event by winning the last two races against Will Boulden of Australia’s Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club. Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club went 11-11 during the round robin and 2-1 in the consolation.
George Anyon of Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron took seventh, followed by David Wood of Balboa Yacht Club, Matt Whitfield of England’s Wessex Sailing Club, James Pinder of England’s Cambridge University Cruising Club, Greiner Hobbs of Florida’s Davis Island Yacht Club and Charlie Welsh of Newport Harbor Yacht Club.
Balboa Yacht Club swept the best-of-five semifinal against Weis, claiming the first two matches on Friday and the first one on Saturday afternoon. Balboa Yacht Club was the first boat to qualify for the final, as Takahashi and Price split their two semifinal matches on Friday.
Takahashi made sure there wouldn’t be a Price-Killian showdown. Many expected Price and Killian, ranked No. 16, to be there at the end, Price led Cruising Yacht Club of Australia to a 21-1 record in the round robin.
To Killian, it didn’t matter who Balboa Yacht Club would see in the finals.
“Harry was having a bad day, so if we would’ve faced him, I think we would’ve been OK, and we know we can beat Leonard,” Killian said. “[Leonard is] a really good sailor. He’s getting so good. He’s so young.”
The 18-year-old Takahashi proved how talented he is as a skipper, leading Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron past the 21-year-old Price. Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron prevailed in the last three matches to win 3-1 in the semifinals.
“We were real happy,” Takahashi said of advancing to the finals for the first time.
Takahashi said he and his crew of Ibuki Kolzuni and Josh Wijohn felt good going into the final. They split their two round-robin matches with Killian, Vandervort and Martin, Balboa Yacht Club winning the first time and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron the second time.
The scenario played out the same in the championship. Balboa Yacht Club took the first match by almost 10 boat lengths, and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron won the second one by three boat lengths.
The third match of the final was tight, with Takahashi almost passing Killian. Balboa Yacht Club won by half a boat length. The next one proved to be more stressful for Killian, who led a comeback to edge Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and bring Balboa Yacht Club its eighth Governor’s Cup crown.
The question now is whether Killian will return to the Governor’s Cup next year to defend his title. Balboa Yacht Club has had three two-time winners, Campbell in 1967-68, Rose in 1969-70 and Wheeler in 1978-79.
One of those former champions inquired about Killian’s future in the Governor’s Cup.
“How many more years do you got?” Wheeler asked Killian.
“I got two more, but we’ll see,” Killian responded. “It’s been a long time coming to this. We’ve spent seven years trying to do this. I plan on having my job by May of next year [after I graduate from the College of Charleston in South Carolina]. If it’s not easy to do, then it’s unlikely that we will [return]. Jack has given me a pretty definitive no. Harrison is a maybe. That’s kind of where we’re at.”
If this marked the end of the trio at the Governor’s Cup, Killian, Vandervort and Martin went out on top.