NEWPORT BEACH, CA (#1072) – Some would call today’s Flight 18 match between Harry Price (AUS, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia), the world’s number-one ranked match racer of any age, and GovCup defending champion, Christophe Killian (USA, College of Charleston YC), epic, classic even. Regardless, it was a real barn-burner.
The pre-start was hotly contested, with Price controlling Killian until the final 45 seconds. In a risky escape move, Killian jibed close ahead of Price who arguably had to alter course to avoid a collision, but the umpires green-flagged it (no penalty).
Killian ended up winning the start by a boat length and led at the first two crosses up Leg 1. However, later in the first leg he could not hold off Price, who charged into the lead with slightly better boat handling.
Down the Leg 2 run, Killian pulled even, but Price aggressively luffed him into “downwind jail” (off to the right side of the gate) and both sailed well past it. Eventually, Price led Killian back to the gate and aggressively covered his opponent for the balance of the race. The two teams were never more than three boat lengths apart – and that was the delta at the finish.
The win helped cement Price’s tenuous standing at the top of the leaderboard on 15 wins (14.5 points after being docked half a point on Tuesday for failing to avoid contact). He went on to win his Flight 19 match against Felix Jacobsen (DEN), ending the day undefeated with five wins and 15.5 points.
Killian was involved in the other big match of the day against another pre-regatta favorite, Leonard Takahashi (NZL, Royal New Zealand YS). Takahashi had defeated Killian in Round Robin 1, but trailed in most of today’s aggressively-sailed (by both teams) match – coming from far behind and passing Killian in the final 100 meters for the win and a solid 4-1 day, losing only to the steady Chris Weis (USA, Del Rey YC).
Meanwhile, yesterday’s Jack “The Giant Killer” Parkin (USA, Riverside YC), who on Wednesday had defeated both Price and Takahashi, had a less auspicious day today with only two wins. He beat Jacobsen and Wilson, while losing to Matt Whitfield (GBR), Will Boulden (AUS), and Clare Costanzo (AUS). Even if Parkin and Boulden win their remaining three matches, and Killian loses all three, they would only be tied on points, and Killian would get the tie-break nod having beaten Parkin and Boulden in their Round Robin 2 matches.
Scott Sinks (USA, San Diego YC) also struggled today, going 0-5 after winning four on Tuesday and three on Wednesday, dashing his chances for a semifinal berth.
David Wood (USA, Balboa YC) had his best day, notching wins against Whitfield, Boulden, and Jacobsen, and losing only to top dogs Price and Killian.
With a steady 5-9 knots of breeze most of the afternoon, in the face of a dying breeze, Principal Race Officer, Don Becker, wisely halted the proceedings as planned, after Flight 19. The remaining three Round Robin 2 flights will be raced Friday beginning at 11:30a PDT before the start of the semifinals.
Though the four semifinalists are mathematically decided, the remaining three Round Robin 2 flights on Friday could have a significant impact – the leading team at the end of the Rounds Robin gets to choose their semifinal opponent.
Leaderboard at the end of Flight 19:
1 Price (AUS) – 15.5
2 Takahashi (NZL) – 15
3 Weis (USA) – 14
4 Killian (USA) – 13
5 Boulden (AUS) – 10
5 Parkin (USA – 10
7 Whitfield (GBR) – 9
8 Sinks (USA) – 7
8 Costanzo (AUS) – 7
10 Wood (USA) – 5
11 Jacobsen (DEN) – 5
12 Wilson (NZL) – 3
Live-stream coverage: www.facebook.com/bycgovcup
Daily Pre-Race Morning Show live-streamed at 9:30a PDT
Live racing coverage on Friday and Saturday beginning at 11:30a PDT
Post-race press conferences live-streamed Friday at 6:45p PDT and ASAP after racing Saturday (approx. 4:00p PDT)
MATCH OF THE DAY – Christophe Killian (USA) led early, but in the end lost to regatta leader Harry Price (AUS) in a superbly contested match on Thursday, at the 52nd annual Governor’s Cup presented by Farmers & Merchants Bank and hosted by Balboa Yacht Club.