Five of the best youth sailing teams in the world have qualified for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup following a grueling two-week Selection Series in San Francisco. The 12 crews, from 11 countries, were pushed to the limit as they fought for the right to compete in September’s races.
National crews from Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland, made the cut to advance to the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup where they will meet five crews supported by current America’s Cup teams
Double Olympic Gold medalists Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, the Sports Directors for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, made the selections after closely monitoring the teams on and off the water during the two back-to-back selection weeks. With the high talent level and extreme motivation of the crews, there were hard choices to make.
“This has been very difficult,” Hagara said. “The level of each team is much higher than we could have hoped for, which is good. But only five of them are able to race with us in September so today’s decision wasn’t easy to make.”
Race results made up 60-percent of the selection criteria. Teams were also evaluated on professionalism on and off the water, as well as on the training programs they have set up to develop their skills further between now and September.
“We always said we were looking for the best of the best,” said Steinacher. “And that’s what we have now. I believe any of these five teams will be capable of winning in September.”
The teams proved their mettle in challenging winter conditions on San Francisco Bay, one of the most challenging race venues in the world. Cold and strong winter winds made taming the AC45 catamarans, with their towering wing sails, difficult. But the youth sailors, aged 19-24, were up to the task.
“We went into this with a plan not to let them sail in over 15 knots of wind and to keep the teams inside the Bay Bridge,” Steinacher said. “We broke both of those rules on the very first day! Fortunately, the teams have shown us they are able to handle the boats in conditions that are on the limit.”
The five teams selected today have now qualified to race in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup from September 1-4, in a fleet that includes five additional youth crews supported by current America’s Cup teams.
Lucien Cujean (SUI), skipper, Team TILT: “It feels good, very good. It’s great news. Even though we won the racing portion of the selection series, that’s not the only criteria. So we were nervous about the selection.”
Bernardo Freitas (POR), skipper, ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team: “We’re excited for the announcement. Excited for September. I believed we’d have a chance. In the racing we showed we’re a good team and we have good skills on the water.”
Will Tiller (NZL), skipper, Full Metal Jacket Racing: “We’re pretty psyched. It’s about 5:00 in the morning (the team is in Oman training ahead of an X40 regatta) and we were all sitting around the phone, nervous. But we’re very happy to have made the selection. The opportunity to race the RBYAC is fantastic, but now the hard work begins. We have to put together a training program.
Philipp Buhl (GER), skipper, STG/NRV Youth Team: “It was a brilliant week. We didn’t expect to be first, but we stayed grounded through the week and kept improving. We really improved our maneuvers and team work. In the end, we learned not to talk so much. Everyone learned to do their job and just did it.”
Jason Waterhouse (AUS), skipper, Objective Australia: “It was a mind-blowing week. We learned so much. It’s our first time racing together as a crew, but we gelled well… Our preparation was sound.”
Jimmy Spithill, skipper, ORACLE TEAM USA, and a driving force behind the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup: “My pathway to the America’s Cup was one of good luck. When I was a youth sailor there wasn’t a clear pathway to the Cup. But the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup gives these guys a great opportunity, and the game’s opened up to much wider participation. The level of organization from these teams is impressive.”
Russell Coutts, CEO, ORACLE TEAM USA, and a driving force behind the creation of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup: “The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup is meant to be a way for youth sailors to show their talents and make it to the pro sailing ranks. This (on the AC45 wing sail catamaran) is some of the best and most fun racing I’ve done in years. I’m sure they’ll enjoy it too.”
Selection Series Teams advancing to Red Bull Youth America’s Cup
Australia – Objective Australia
Germany – STG/NRV Youth Team
New Zealand – Full Metal Jacket Racing
Portugal – ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team
Switzerland – Team TILT
Youth crews supported by America’s Cup World Series Teams
France – Energy Team/Name TBC
New Zealand – Emirates Team New Zealand/Name TBC
Sweden – Artemis Racing/Swedish Youth Challenge
USA – ORACLE TEAM USA/American Youth Sailing Force (SFO)
USA – ORACLE TEAM USA/USA45 Racing (USA)
Photo Credit: ACEA 2013/ Gilles Martin-Raget
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