NEWPORT BEACH, CA (#1073) – Harry Price (AUS, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia) chose local favorite and Newport Beach native, Christophe Killian (USA, College of Charleston YC), the GovCup defending champion, as his semifinal opponent surprising many. But it proved a smart decision, as after Friday's racing Price was up 2-0 over Killian in their first-to-win-three-race semifinal. Meanwhile, in the other semi, Chris Weis (USA, Del Rey Yacht Club) and Leonard Takahashi (NZL, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron) split, and go into Saturday's racing 1-1.
Both pairings were spectacular displays of match racing tactics by four of the best match racing sailors, of any age, in the world. Those who might think that the sport needs foiling boats to produce exciting racing did not see the first Killian/Price semifinal.
After a short dial-up and run around the spectator fleet, Killian attempted a leeward duck on Price, but making contact Killian incurred a penalty 90 seconds before the start. With both boats over at the start, Killian managed to duck the line and re-start ahead of Price. Both sailors stayed left, but Price had to tack right for clear air. Killian, favoring the left side throughout the windward leg, led at the weather mark by four boat lengths. The question for Killian: how much of a lead did he need to do a 270-turn to absolve his penalty?
Downwind, Killian maintained his advantage with careful jibing to keep his air clear from the omnipresent Price.
Finally, at the second and last windward mark, Killian took his penalty with a clever jibe onto the port layline, maintaining his lead, but only just.
Then Harry “Houdini” Price and his team once again showed their downwind magic to escape from what appeared to be a sure loss. Price's superb boat handling and slightly better speed proved the difference. In final 200 meters, Price achieved an overlap to leeward of Killian and luffed him sharply. Price then jibed away for the finish line, followed almost simultaneously by Killian but it was too late for the American team. Price sailed over the line with a one boat-length win.
In their second match Killian got caught outside of a significant southerly shift with Price on the inside of the lift to the upwind left. Price cruised to an easier second win.
In the other semifinal, Takahashi and Weis put on an impressive display of nautical chess – move, counter-move – in the beautiful 5-9 knot Pacific Ocean breezes under mostly clear, sunny skies. As your Ed. and GovCup co-commentator with Andy Rose called it, "Chamber of Commerce" weather.
Takahashi and Weis split their two closely-fought matches ending the day 1-1, and will continue their battle on Saturday along with Price and Killian in the other semi.
Live coverage of the remaining semifinal matches, and the first-to-win-three finals, continues on Saturday at 11:30a PDT livestreamed by GovCup TV on facebook.com/bycgovcup. The final press conference and awards presentation will also be livestreamed as soon as possible after racing, at approximately 4:30p.
Harry Price (AUS) bested defending champion Christophe Killian (USA) in their two semifinal matches on Friday, at the 52nd annual Governor’s Cup presented by Farmers & Merchants Bank and hosted by Balboa Yacht Club. The semis conclude on Saturday followed by the first-to-win-three finals, with live TV coverage on facebook.com/bycgovcup beginning at 11:30a PDT.