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NHYC Wins Second Governor’s Cup Title in a row
Michael Menninger, Cole Hatton and Chris Barnard destroy the fleet at the 42nd annual Match Race hosted by BYC.

As Newport Harbor Yacht Club’s team in Balboa Yacht Club’s 42nd Governor’s Cup International Junior Match Racing Championship approached the starting line for the second race of the final, best of three series, the words “Stay Calm” could easily be seen
taped to the bulkhead. NHYC skipper Michael Menninger needed all of that calm and more to finally beat Will Ryan and his team from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (Sydney, Australia) in the third and deciding race. Michael, the event’s defending champion, and crew, Cole Hatton and Chris Barnard, had lost the first race of the finals by 5 seconds and faced giving the Cup to Australia unless they won two straight races.
Their 4 second margin of victory in that crucial second race must have made maintaining their “calm” difficult at best. Michael won the series whose entrants featured twelve teams of expert young sailors from the United States, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. All teams sailed against each other once, then the teams with the best record in that round robin series were seeded directly into the four boat semi-finals. The third through sixth teams based on their round robin performance sailed a “repechage” round of three races
and the top two from that series joined the two top finishers in the semi-finals. Menninger and Newport Harbor were seeded first with a perfect 11-0 record but the Australian team from Sydney was close behind at 10-1, a sign of things to come. The Royal New Zealand
Yacht Squadron team led by Bradley Farrand overcame a slow start in the round robin to win the repechage round and advance to the semis. They were joined by the United Kingdom entrant, representing the Royal Yachting Association. Finishing sequence: Newport Harbor Yacht Club’s Michael Menninger and crew win Cup then all jump overboard. As the semi-finals started, it became apparent that although the New Zealand and the United Kingdom teams had improved quickly once they became familiar with the Governor’s Cup 21’s, they were not yet at the level of the two veteran Newport and CYCA teams. NHYC had the choice of their opponent in the semi-finals and chose to race Andrew Shaw and his United Kingdom team. Although Shaw put up a good fight, NHYC won 2-0 and entered the finals. The Cruising Yacht Club beat the Royal New Zealand team 2-0 setting up the final. Newport had a slight edge at the first start, due to their “lee bow” position. That forced CYCA to tack away which worked well as slightly more wind and a better angle allowed them to pass Menninger and crew next time they
crossed tacks. CYC again found better wind and went out to a 31 second lead at the top mark. While Newport closed on the second weather leg, and even more downwind, it fell about 5 seconds short at the finish. With the pressure suddenly much greater, the NHYC
faced a must win situation. Early in the starting sequence, both boats were above the committee and spectator boats and at one point, Newport looked like they could not lay the port end of the starting line with CYCA on their wind. But, increased breeze allowed them to head up and again claim the “lee bow” position as the starting gun fired. The fickle breeze off Newport Beach had faded to about 5 knots at this point and while Menninger still led about 250 feet from the windward mark, CYCA was overlapped to windward. NHYC luffed and
came very close to tacking which would have incurred a penalty. CYCA flew their protest flag but the on the water umpires flew the “no foul” flag immediately and Newport led at the weather mark. The downwind leg was almost a repeat of the first race, but with Newport defending against the fast closing Australians. However, CYCA this time came up short by 4 seconds. One race was to decide the Governor’s Cup. Again the two boats spent much of the pre-start above the line and the spectator boats anchored off the starboard end. And
again, the boats started virtually even with Newport tacking away first. After a number of tacks, Menninger and crew made a move that marked the turning point. Neither boat had a clear lead but NHYC called a near perfect port tack layline and while CYCA was to windward and slightly behind them, they were able to luff right at the weather mark and round themselves, as CYCA, forced to keep clear, stalled their boat and fell behind by 14 seconds. Unlike the previous two races, Menninger was able to maintain his lead by covering well on the downwind leg and avoiding many patches of light wind by then appearing on the course. The final margin was not indicative of how close these final races were and both teams sailed very well. But, Menninger joins seven other skippers in the 42 year history of the Governor’s Cup to win twice and remains part of the only father-son duo to win the Cup.