Red Bull Youth America’s Cup selection trials
The first day of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Selection Series provided an illustration of the massive expectations on the youth teams who have congregated in San Francisco for a shot at advancing to September’s regatta.
The teams were put through their paces on shore by Sports Directors Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, where the physical demands of sailing an AC45 wing sail catamaran were made clear through an exhausting fitness evaluation.
“That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Michael Ovenstone, a 22-year-old trimmer for South Africa’s i’KaziKati team. “I really feel the burning in my arms,” he said, while massaging the inside of his forearms. “I don’t know what muscle that is, but it burns.”
Along with the fitness testing, the teams were instructed on how to sail an AC45 and how, hopefully, to avoid capsizing.
“We’re talking to them about the four most common scenarios that can lead to a capsize,” said Darren Bundock, from Oracle Team USA, who is one of the coaches sharing his expertise. “But I imagine we could see some creativity over the course of these sessions in finding some new ways we haven’t encountered yet.”
At the beginning of the day, the six youth teams were welcomed by Russell Coutts, the CEO of 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 you guys to show your talents and make it to the pro sailing ranks,” Coutts told the group. “So work hard but also have fun and enjoy yourselves. This is some of the best and most fun racing I’ve done in years. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too.”
Beginning Sunday, the teams will start on-the-water training in the AC45s, leading to race practice later in the week.
“We need to build towards the racing methodically,” Hagara said.
“These boats are a handful for the most experienced, professional sailors,” agreed his counterpart Steinacher. “So it’s important that we take the right steps to allow everyone a chance to learn, develop and succeed as we move towards the racing at the end of the week and the eventual selection for September.”
The six national teams taking part in the first session of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Selection Series are:
AUS – Objective Australia
AUT – Team Austria
DEN – Danish Youth Vikings
GER – STG-NRV Youth Team
NZL – Full Metal Jacket Racing
RSA – Team i’KaziKati
The first group is on site at the Selection Series in San Francsico between February 9-15. Then, from February 18-24, a second group of youth crews will go through the same process, including the following teams:
ARG – Arg Youth Team
GBR – GBR Youth Challenge
ITA – Team Italy powered by Stig
POR – ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team
SUI – Team Tilt
At the end of the second session, at least four teams will be selected to proceed to the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup taking place over 1-4 September, right before the America’s Cup.