Insuring the Legacy of the Governor’s Cup

Published on March 10th, 2016

Before Paul Cayard and John Kostecki got inducted in the US National Sailing Hall of Fame, or Jimmy Spithill became a 2-time America’s Cup skipper, they were laying the foundation at Balboa Yacht Club’s International Junior Match Race Championship – the Governor’s Cup.

This coming July will be the 50th Anniversary of the Southern California event, and the host club has launched a new fleet of boats – the Governor’s Cup 22 – for the occasion. Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck checked in with two of the movers and shakers behind the event – Larry Law, president of the Newport Balboa Sailing and Seamanship Association (NBSSA), and longtime event booster Andy Rose.

What does the NBSSA do?

Larry: NBSSA is a 501c (3) youth not for profit association that was formed in 1997 with the explicit purpose of support, development and growth of sailing with an emphasis on youth sailing at all levels of experience. It focuses on program development, education, training and the sponsorship of sailors, programs, events and activities primarily for young sailors from all walks of life.

I could go on, but suffice it to say that we have been actively involved in at risk youth programs, are a major sponsor of the Governor’s Cup Regatta since 2002; was the conduit organization I used for the founding of the Rose Cup (which is now the US Youth Match Racing Championship); and has owned and managed the Governor’s Cup Fleet since the Governor’s Cup 21 was launched in 2002-3.

Why does NBSSA own the boats?

Larry: NBSSA owns the Governor’s Cup Fleet for a number of reasons – the most important being that it is a not-for-profit entity (separate and distinct from any yacht club) that can receive tax eligible donations for programs that fit within its mission statement; second because if you know yacht clubs, any assets they own never seem to stand test of time in terms of proper care maintenance just general attention. The assets usually are bounced around in the budgeting process and suffer when the current group of directors has an agenda that does not match the intent of the asset ownership.

With NBSSA, the Board made a commitment from the beginning to make it one of its primary missions to care and maintain the fleet for a 15 year term as a valuable asset for the life of the Governor’s Cup, and then make the fleet available to other events (for charter or use) all with the focus on managing costs and maintaining the integrity of the Fleet to support high-end One Design events.

NBSSA has a separate budget and a very active Fleet Committee that makes long term care and immediate repair decisions with no political undercurrent, and NBSSA has the financial resources (through directed private donations and gifts) dedicated to maintaining the Fleet – the GC 21 and the GC 22.

The ownership also allows NBSSA to embrace other events from other clubs (not just Balboa Yacht Club) and make the boats available for use for important events. Other than the Governor’s Cup and the recent addition of the Rose Cup, NBSSA has allowed the Fleet to be chartered for the College National Sloop Championship; Prince of Whales Regattas, Bettina Bents Women’s Regatta, Area J POW sail-off event and US Women’s Match Race Championship Regatta – among other local events and programs.

Why were the 21s custom built? Wasn’t there anything on the market that would suffice?

Larry: The 21’s were designed and built specifically so that we would have a quality fleet of limited use, one design racing sloops for events like the Governor’s Cup so that we would not have to use privately owned one design boats that were of varying quality and spend large sums of money annually to bring the fleet up to consistent standards (i.e. the old Santana 20s).

We wanted to elevate the overall event with assets that matched the quality of the event and race management that traditionally came with the Governor’s Cup every year. We considered acquiring old or new J/22’s and a few other boats – but frankly it became of matter of pride knowing the we have within our ranks a premier yacht designer (Alan Andrews) and sailmaker (Dave Ullman) and enough of us crazy sailor types with the money to mount our own effort. So the decision was made to make a specific design racing sloop for the match race discipline and other events – to last 10-15 years

Andy: There was not anything on the market which would have accomplished our purposes. We had Alan design the boats to be fine in a bit of breeze but focused on lighter air performance in conditions we find in Newport and San Diego. Both match and fleet racing schedules require a lot of racing and we wanted to be sure that we could, if necessary, hold fair and competitive races in 4-6 knots.

I believe the sailors over the last 12 years would agree that we succeeded. Buying a production boat with all the compromises that necessarily go into such boats would not have been acceptable to us or to the sailors. And, without NBSSA ownership of the whole fleet, we eventually could not have guaranteed that the boats would remain equal.

I was very pleased as to the latter requirement to see last year that the two finalists chose after race two to keep the boats they were sailing in the first two races rather than trading with their competitor which was their right. I think that made another powerful statement about equality.

What were the uses for the 21s?

Larry: They were not available for general events or recreational sailing. The fleet has been sailed on average about 15 days a year since they were built.

Why replace the 21s?

Larry: The 21’s are now (by use) turning 12 years old, and with the Governor’s Cup being tagged as one of the premier youth match race events globally and the Rose Cup being designated the US Youth Match Racing Championship, it was felt that we need to update the sailing technology, provide a platform that could qualify for Grade 1 Match Race events (the previous fleet was 21’ – new boat is 22’, which is required in A Grade 1 event).

Andy: Additionally, and by far the main motivation for me to again do the fundraising, was the fact of the 50th Anniversary. In other words, I felt and feel that we can make that event truly memorable and having new boats adds to that.

The availability of the GC 21 fleet now also represents a huge opportunity for some club or sailing association to “jump start” their small keel program whether the boats would be used for match, team or fleet racing, recreational sailing or teaching or all of the above. For most areas of the country, they will outperform anything being used today.

And it still made sense to create a new boat? Is this cost-effective?

Larry: Given the fact that the original GC 21 is as “young as it is” and has excellent performance attributes (therefore having great secondary market value), it will make a great fleet to drive one or more programs with boats that are competitive and in great shape.

The GC 22 now insure the Governor’s Cup and other events in So Cal will have outstanding assets for another decade or more – insuring the legacy of the Governor’s Cup and match, team and fleet racing for premier events for another decade is a great value to sailing in general.

As to whether it is a great value/cost per linear foot of fiberglass, epoxy, rigging, hardware, and sail cloth – I’ll leave that to the sailors that have come to know the Governor’s Cup other events and BYC as being THE SPOT for great events. These are “boats” we are speaking about here – not mutual funds.

Andy: My contributors from 2002-3 have seen the results of our efforts then for the last thirteen years and are very pleased. Now that the economy is better, I believed we could again raise the money for the new boats and I was right.

As for cost effectiveness, one of the design briefs I gave the designer and builder was that the total costs of the boats including trailers, sails, etc. should be quite competitive with production boats that could have been purchased. They succeeded in that goal but none of those boats are, in my opinion, as good as the GC 22, especially for what we intend to be their use.

But, again, the major motivation was the fiftieth anniversary and the interest on the part of the contributors to make it the best possible event.

How is the project funded?

Larry: Donations for the new original boat development program for the GC 21 came from the BYC membership. The GC 22 development fund also came mainly from the BYC membership – but others that know the program that are not tied to BYC have also come forward with sizeable donations – INCLUDING one of our long standing foreign competitors in the Governor’s Cup Regatta over the years, who sent a generous donation in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Governor’s Cup.

What were some of the changes for the 22?

Andy: The boats are longer, lighter, and have more sail area than the 21s and include a flat top main and no backstay. But, it is important to note that the 21s are still “state of the art” for match and team racing series, especially as compared to clubs in other parts of the country using, for example, Sonars, J/22s, Ideal 18s etc. and are better boats for Southern California conditions than would be the Elliott designs used primarily in Australia and New Zealand. Ask the sailors which of those boats they’d prefer to sail!

Will the 22s be used in the same fashion as the 21s?

Larry: Exactly

Is there any plan to market the GC 22 if clubs/events are looking to buy new boats?

Larry: NBSSA owns the design rights to the GC 22, the same way it did the GC 21. If a viable market for individual sales develops, NBSSA will assign its license rights to a builder and allow further production – just not another fleet of GC 22 to other organizations in the same area that could compete for premier events (of course)!

Andy: I have been talking to a major east coast club about their possibly building a fleet. The tooling can be used to produce quite a few more boats and I expect it will ultimately be used to do so. However, I am still finishing up the fundraising campaign and at least for a bit longer, future marketing is a lesser priority.


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