The race for the Governor's Cup
Just offshore in the waters near the Newport Pier, 12 skippers and their crews will do battle in July for one of the most prestigious youth match racing trophies in sailing: the 50th annual Governor’s Cup.
Founded in 1967 with a trophy donated by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, and hosted by the Balboa Yacht Club, the Governor’s Cup is one of the most hotly contested races thanks to its long history of jump-starting sailing careers. Past competitors have gone on to win the America’s Cup, Round the World, Olympic gold and more, so competition is a bit fiercer than your typical beer-can regatta.
The alumni of the Governor’s Cup are virtually a who’s who of competitive sailing, says Andy Rose, a two-time winner and chair of this year’s steering committee. He won the 1969 and ’70 Governor’s Cup, the race propelling him on to win the Congressional Cup and serving as the tactician for Australia in the 1977 America’s Cup. Rose has since been one of the Governor’s Cup’s biggest advocates, heading up the recent fund raising campaign to build 12 boats – worth more than $500,000 – that will be christened for this year’s race.
Sailing is more than just trophies and glory, however, says Rose, a Newport Beach native. His father died when he was 10, and his mother worried he needed something to do during the summer.
“She saw an advertisement for a sailing program at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, which was leasing a room at the Balboa Bay Club,” he says. The program was open to the public, so his mother enrolled him. “It was one of the better things she ever did for me.”
He went on to teach in the program, then run the youth sailing at the Balboa Yacht Club. After an undergraduate degree from Stanford and a law degree from UC Davis, he returned to Newport and became a Balboa Yacht Club member and staunch supporter of youth sailing.
It’s that belief that drove him to head up the campaign for new boats, so that every sailor in the regatta will be sailing identical equipment. “The Governor’s Cup has become recognized all over the world as one of the premier youth events, and in order to maintain that you have to have equal boats so it’s the sailors who decide who wins, not the boat,” he says.
Of course, a good strategy might be to come close, but not grab the trophy, Rose says with a chuckle. “We joke about it, but there’s sort of a curse to the Governor’s Cup. Those of us who won the cup tend not to have won the America’s Cup. Those who don’t win the cup tend to win the America’s Cup,” he says.
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Watch the Cup
The Governor’s Cup regatta takes place July 18-23 just outside the harbor. If you have a boat, you can view from the spectators boat area. If not, a good place to watch the action is from the Newport Pier.