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GovCup: No. 1-ranked Harry 'Houdini' Price (AUS) beats Leonard Takahashi (NZL) to win world&

NEWPORT BEACH, CA (#1074) – Harry Price (AUS, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia) solidified his status as the world's top-ranked match racer by winning the Governor's Cup on Saturday, rallying to beat No. 20 Leonard Takahashi (NZL, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron) 3-2.

Price, 22 and sailing in his last GovCup (which has an upper age limit of 23), showed his prowess in boat handling and tactics to win the world's oldest and most prestigious youth match racing championship for the second time in four years.

Sailing in unusually strong 15-18 knot wind and choppy seas, Price and Takahashi traded victories in the first two races. The mast on Price's Gov Cup 22 broke in the third race, which was "black flagged" meaning awarded to Takahashi. That put Price down 2-1 and making race four a must win for him to stay alive.

In the Governor's Cup, which is raced in identical "GovCup 22s" supplied by Balboa Yacht Club, there is no redress for equipment breakage – motivating teams to sail their boat and equipment as if it were their own.

After both skippers moved to new boats, Price won the next two races to claim the trophy. Takahashi had the lead at the first cross in the fifth race, but instead of covering, he let Price sail into clear air. Price found a favorable wind shift against Takahashi's arguably better upwind boat speed.

Downwind was a different story. During the regatta GovCup media nicknamed him Harry “Houdini” for his team’s seemingly magical downwind speed and boat-handling. In at least five of his 30 total matches (22 in the double round-robin, 3 in the semis and five in the finals) Price arrived at the windward mark several boat lengths behind but was able to position his boat to project the “wind shadow” of his sails onto the sails of his oppoent and sail by.

Defending champion Christophe Killian of the host Balboa Yacht Club beat Christopher Weis of the Del Rey Yacht Club in the petit final.

(With thanks to Bernie Wilson and his AP wire story.)

Skipper Harry Price (left) with crew Angus Williams and Harry Hall, representing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, won the 52nd annual Governor's Cup international youth match racing championship presented by Farmers & Merchants Bank and hosted by Balboa Yacht Club.

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