Canfield Joins Field for Governor’s Cup Alumni Regatta

Published on July 8th, 2016

Taylor Canfield of the US Virgin Islands, World Sailing’s #1 ranked match racing skipper, is among the 12 skippers who have accepted invitations to compete in Balboa Yacht Club’s Governor’s Cup 50th Anniversary Alumni Regatta on Saturday, July 16, 2016, in the Pacific Ocean waters off Newport Beach, California.

The Alumni Regatta is just one feature of the expanded “Gov Cup” week of 50th Anniversary celebrations which also include the premiere of a 50 minute feature film retrospective on the Cup on the evening of the 16th at the historic Lido Theater in Newport Beach by Gary Jobson, an Emmy winning film producer and America’s Cup winning tactician.

The Governor’s Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship presented by Farmers & Merchants Bank is the oldest international youth match racing regatta in the world and racing for the Governor’s Cup will begin on Tuesday, July 19th and conclude on Saturday, the 23rd. Twelve skippers 22 years of age and under from the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand will compete for this year’s championship.

The Cup was founded in 1967 with a trophy donated by then‐California Governor Ronald Reagan and is known as the “Pathway for Champions” in recognition that its alumni include sailors that have gone on to sail in and win the Congressional Cup, the America’s Cup, the Olympic Games and the round the world race including James Spithill, two‐time winning skipper of the America’s Cup. This year’s Gov Cup competitors will serve as crews for the invited alumni skippers.

The Alumni Regatta skippers reflect the Cup’s illustrious history as Canfield will be joined by skippers such as Argyle Campbell (Newport Beach, CA), the winner of the first two Governor’s Cups in 1967 and 1968, two Congressional Cups, and still a successful skipper in boats of similar size to the new 22 foot “Governor’s Cup 22’s” which will be used in the Alumni Regatta and then for the Governor’s Cup Regatta.

Dennis Durgan (Newport Beach, CA) will also compete and looks to complete a sweep of match racing alumni events after his victory in the Congressional Cup Alumni Regatta in 2014. Dennis is a two-time winner of the Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club’s prestigious non‐age limited international match racing event (on which the Governor’s Cup was patterned) and was tactician for Dennis Conner in the successful defense of the America’s Cup in 1980 aboard Freedom. In fact, among them, Canfield, Durgan, and Campbell have a total of seven Congressional Cup wins.

As Andy Rose, two‐time Governor’s Cup winner and organizer of the Alumni Regatta, said, “If the Alumni Regatta was a full match racing series, this talent would likely give the Alumni Regatta Grade 1 or 2 status and would be Grade 1 for sure if we assume where people like Argyle and Dennis would be ranked had the rankings existed in the 1970’s and 1980’s.”

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Chris Steele (left) and Taylor Canfield.
© Nic Douglass

Canfield will see a familiar face across the starting line as New Zealand’s Chris Steele will also be an alumni skipper. Steele is ranked 8th in the World Sailing Match Racing Rankings and as of the release of this article, will race Canfield in the semi‐finals of the World Match Race Tour final 2016 event in Marstrand, Sweden where, among other things, the winner will receive a $1 million (US) bonus. New Zealand’s Phil Robertson, another semi‐finalist, is also a Governor’s Cup alum.

Jay Griffin of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia is another international skipper that will sail in the Alumni Regatta. Last year, Jay won the Hardy Cup in Sydney, Australia, and beat Steele in that event as well as skippers currently holding the #4 and #6 world rankings in the process. (#4 is Sam Gilmour who will be sailing in the Governor’s Cup regatta at 22 years of age.)

Steele’s countryman, Mark Christensen, has also accepted an invitation. In 1989, Christensen was the first international winner of the Governor’s Cup and went on to sail on the New Zealand America’s Cup team and was one of the leaders on boats with multiple Round The World Race wins. He also holds the doublehanded Transpacific Yacht Race record but like the Round The World Race, it is hard to find the direct connection between his Gov Cup match racing experience and those races!

The only father and son duo to win the Governor’s Cup will also compete as Michael Menninger and his father, Bill, have accepted invitations. Both are accomplished sailors with recent emphasis on team racing, having won United States championships in that fast growing discipline. Michael was also a three‐time intercollegiate All‐American and US intercollegiate champion.

Andy Rose noted, “The US skippers in the Alumni Regatta hold at least 17 All‐American awards among them.” Two‐time Governor’s Cup winners Mike Pinckney and Brad Wheeler also look forward to sailing in the regatta and along with former Gov Cup winners Jack Franco and Geoff Becker. Geoff was the youngest person ever to win the Governor’s Cup and he and Franco are among a number of Alumni Regatta skippers who have been champions in various one design classes similar in size to the Gov Cup 22.

The regatta format will feature three fleet races and, time permitting, a single, “sudden death” match race between the top two fleet race finishers. “It should be quite an event,” said Tom Purcell, two‐time Gov Cup and Congressional Cup winning crew, son of the regatta founders, and Co‐Chair of the 50th Anniversary Cup. “We are very excited to have these amazing alumni skippers join us for the celebration. It will mean a lot to this year’s competitors and means a lot to the Balboa Yacht Club” continued Purcell.”

50th Anniversary Co‐Chair Paul Blank encouraged local spectators who wish to bring their boats to the Balboa Pier area off Newport Beach. “The racing should be pretty incredible and live commentary by Andy Rose and Gary Jobson will be available on a special Coast Guard Channel which can be easily received on the spectator boats. We are honored to have Gary with us again, especially as he leaves for Rio de Janeiro after the Governor’s Cup events to serve as NBC Television commentator on the Olympic Sailing Events. And, we can hardly wait for the premiere of Gary’s movie that night!”

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Source: Governor’s Cup

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