With the lifting of pandemic travel restrictions, Jordan Stevenson (NZL) won the 2022 Governor’s Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship presented by DISC Sports and Spine Center after last appearing at the Cup in 2019.
Admittedly rusty in the qualifying stage, Stevenson turned a meager performance in the first round to domination of the second round, and stayed on a roll through the Semi Finals and Finals to sit atop the 12 teams from five nations in the 55th edition. Race was held in GC22s on July 26-30 in Newport Beach, CA.
On the final day, Stevenson won the first and second races against defending champion and newly crowned World Youth Match Racing Champs Jeffrey Petersen, Max Brennan, and Scott Mais to go up 2-0 in the “first to three”’ point series.
In the 4-6 knot wind conditions, Stevenson had exceptional boat speed, both upwind and downwind. His starts were never disastrous, and he often had a slight advantage. As the boats started the last downwind leg of the third race, Stevenson had a comfortable lead about halfway down the leg in this deciding race.
Stevenson did so and started up the course. Petersen then rounded in the other direction, and once he realized his mistake, he returned to round again. Even then he did not “unwind the string” of his first incorrect rounding and therefore had still not rounded the mark.
At that point, the Race Committee started to move one of the leeward “gate” marks to square the gate to the wind. Since the move couldn’t be done by the time the boats were approaching the mark, that left a single mark, which needed to be rounded in a clockwise direction.
By then, Stevenson had sailed so far away that the Cup was to be his in a walk, but when Petersen protested the race, the umpires called for a do-over with Stevenson remaining at a 2-0 score against Petersen.
Stevenson could not have been pleased, but both boats prepared for another start and a crucial race. Stevenson and crew put that “almost win” behind them, and although the boats in any race were typically less than two boats apart, eked out another lead on the second and final downwind leg.
By mid-leg, Stevenson had increased his lead, and with all the marks in their proper place, looked to complete a sweep. But suddenly Stevenson notably slowed down, snagging what he described as“40 kilos of kelp on the keel.” Petersen forged ahead to win, and with the score now 2-1, he was back in the hunt.
Hoping to even the score in the next race, Petersen at first incurred a penalty before the start, but in shepherding Stevenson down the line before the starting gun, Stevenson made a critical mistake and was over the line when the gun went off. As he returned to the line with no rights against Petersen, he committed a double penalty for an intentional foul, which meant he had to do his penalty turn immediately.
This erased the penalty for Petersen but left Stevenson with one penalty turn to do. His boat speed and tactics were again sufficient to eke out a lead, but it was unclear whether he had enough distance to finish his turn before the hard-charging Petersen finished.
Stevenson and crew did an excellent job with the turn, but Petersen got a puff, got an overlap, and was surging past Stevenson. The large spectator fleet had to wait for the Race Committee to raise a yellow flag indicating that the New Zealand team had won by 2-3 feet giving Stevenson the Cup with teammates Mitch Jackson and George Angus.
The best to two petit final stage between the other two semifinalists, Marius Westerlind (SWE) and Jack Egan (USA) was equally as close with one mistake at the start, or downwind, and a change of lead would occur. With the score tied 1-1, like Stevenson, Egan looked to take the race and place third in the final standings. In the deciding race, Westerind’s team was excellent upwind, but not as fast as the virtual perfection of Egan and his team, and Egan won the race and achieved a “podium finish” in the Cup.
The format began with a double round robin qualifying series to advance the top four teams to the knock-out rounds for semi-final, petit-final, and final matches.