New Zealand will be well represented at next week's 53rd Governor’s Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship in California with four teams coming from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
The four teams are made up of the Squadron's youth training programme and performance programme sailors and they are among a strong 12-team international line-up.
Nick Egnot-Johnson, Leonard Takahashi, Jordan Stevenson and Frankie Dair are skippering the teams as they bid to win the Governor’s Cup for the RNZYS for the first time since Will Tiller went back-to-back in 2009 and 2010.
Leonard Takahashi, who is a graduate of both the youth training programme and performance programme, is back with his Pacific Racing Team which includes Taylor Balogh and Josh Wijohn. Takahashi has been very busy in a number of sailing disciplines recently, notably as a grinder for the Japanese Sail GP team as well as sailing in the 49er regattas in Europe as he strives to make the Japanese Olympic team for next year's Tokyo Games.
Takahashi is also a very accomplished match racer, having won the majority of the top youth match racing regattas in Australasia. However, the Governor’s Cup has proved elusive, having finished second twice.
“I’m really excited to get back into some match racing with the boys," he said. "The Governor’s Cup is one of my favourite events and I've had a lot of fun there in the past.
"This year we're hoping to get the monkey off our backs and win the thing. We’re looking forward to getting stuck into what is a very competitive line-up.”
Nick Egnot-Johnson and his Knots Racing Team have enjoyed considerable success over the last year, including winning the US Grand Slam, the RNZYS' Youth International Match Racing Cup and just last week the OM International Match Race Regatta in Italy.
Egnot-Johnson also impressed in California earlier this year when he finished fifth at Congressional Cup.
“This year’s Governor’s Cup line-up is really strong, with some talented international youth sailors competing as well as some strong teams coming over from New Zealand," he said. "This is pretty exciting, I can’t wait to take on the best youth teams in the world.”
Egnot-Johnson will be joined by fellow Sam Barnett and Alistair Gifford.
Jordan Stevenson and his Vento Racing Team have also been on the rise in the past year, winning the Harken Youth International Match Racing Championship in Australia and finishing runners-up at the RNZYS Youth International Match Racing Cup.
Stevenson, along with his team of George Angus and Jake Erson, have been doing a lot of training over the winter months in Auckland and are ready to test themselves.
“We’re stoked be heading over to the Balboa Yacht Club at the end of the week for our first Gov’s Cup," Stevenson said. "We’ve been training hard over the winter here in Auckland so it’ll be good to finally get a break from the cold. It’s definitely going to be a tough event, so our goal for the week is to learn as much as we can whilst hopefully putting a couple of wins on the board.”
Frankie Dair is a member of youth training programme but will also be sailing under the burgee of the California Yacht Club at this year’s event. Dair will be joined by Niall Malone and Mathew Leydon.
Last year Dair won the Musto Youth International Regatta in Sydney and is a definite threat to win the 53rd Governors Cup title. Dair has been training a lot recently in the Squadrons Elliott 7s and is looking forward to getting back to the United States.
“I’m really looking forward to coming back home and competing at this year’s Gov’s Cup. I’ve never sailed in the 22s so I’m excited to do some match racing in them. It is going to be a tough regatta but we’re ready to give it a good go.”
Other skippers competing at this year’s 53rd Governor’s Cup include David Wood (USA), Cameron Feves (USA), Matt Whitfield (UK), Mans Holmberg (SWE), Jeppe Borch (DEN), Jack Parkin (USA), Finn Tapper (AUS) and Clare Costanzo (AUS).
Racing will start with a double round robin series from July and will be sailed in the Balboa Yacht Club's fleet of identical ‘GovsCup 22’ sloops. The top four teams them advance to the semifinals.