Strong first day for New Zealand teams

Red Bull Youth America's Cup sets sail

Sunday September 1st 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

After Louis Vuitton Cup it was nice finally to see some racing on San Francisco Bay (as commentator Ken Read accidentally put it) as racing got underway at the Red Bull Youth America's Cup between the ten youth teams from eight countries sailing the wingsail AC45 catamarans. Generally it was very impressive how well the young crews were sailing  the powerful, unfamiliar AC45s.

Two races were staged today with no one team looking dominant and with the top six teams ending the day all within four points. If a nation is peeking through it is New Zealand with NZL Sailing Team with ETNZ, skippered by 49er Olympic silver medallist Peter Burling, in first place and Will Tiller's team on Full Metal Jacket Racing third, sandwiching the French on Next World Energy.

In 13 knots of wind from the WSW, the start line looked full with 10 boats compared to the two (or occasionally one) we have seen over the
past week.

In race one it was Michael Menninger's American Youth Sailing Force's team on USA 1 that got off to the best start up by the committee boat. They nosed around the reaching mark a nose ahead of the German team on All In Racing (which just managed to hang on to it, making a big hull fly at they were hit by a gust coming into the mark). The Germans immediately gybe set.

USA1 and the Portugese team on ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team did well sticking on starboard gybe heading in for the shore, with the Americans leading into the gate ahead of the Portugese by about five boatlengths. They both rounded the port gate mark while Peter Burling's crew on split went for the starboard mark, as they would throughout the days, followed by the Germans.

The US team did a good job hanging on to the lead going up the beat and nearly came acropper when they passed the windward mark too close and snagged the marks anchor line with their daggerboard. While they went into a pitchpole, they were extremely fortunate that the anchor line suddenly released them and they were on their way, leading to take the first bullet of the Red Bull Youth America's Cup.

The fight was on for second with Peter Burling's crew forcing the Portugese crew to put in a extra tack coming into the final weather gate, allowing the Kiwis to pull into second.  They ended up finishing 44 seconds behind USA 1 with the Portugese third. The most disappointing performance of the race was from Objective Australia which had an issue with their Code Zero halyard and ended up having to sail the second run without their big gear, coming home last as a result.

After a short delay waiting for the wind limit to drop slightly, the second race got underway with Kiwi Will Tiller's team out in front followed by the Charlie Ekberg skippered Swedish Youth Challenge, with German team once again starting well in third and once again gybe setting at the reaching mark.

Once again the leaders heading round the port leeward gate mark but at the top of the beat the leaders compressed and some unfavourable crosses between the two Kiwi boats resulted in the Swedish team pulling into the lead at the weather gate, split, with Tiller's crew rounding the port mark. Race one winners, American Youth Sailing Force, had done a good job catching up but suffered a horrible twist in their Code Zero as they attempted to unfurl it and as the crew struggled to fix it.

On the second run Tiller's crew managed to edge back into the lead but the Swedes recovered well until they made the wrong decision to gybe coming into the mark and to drop their Code Zero, rather than gybing it. Tiller regained the lead. Sadly behind them there was further disaster for the Australians as the Code Zero halyard once again gave out on them, dumping the big sail in water during a gybe.

At the top of the second beat, with Tiller still leading, Peter Burling managed to get the inside berth but the Swedes rounded with better speed and attempted to roll them. Burling luffed and successfully protested the Swedes for not keeping clear, only to then go over the course boundary line and receive their own penalty.

At the finish line, Will Tiller's team managed to hang on the lead, with the Swedes claiming a well-earned second but the French team sneaking into third ahead of Burling. Race one winner American Youth Sailing Force were unable to follow up their victory, finishing a disappointing seventh in race two.

“The difference was getting off that start line well in race two and getting to the first mark in the lead,” said Tiller, who's team finished the day in third place, tied on points with the Swedish and American Youth Sailing Force teams. “You’ve got to get in there early and tussle for your position right up to the start gun. We’re learning all the time and getting better and better. We need to because there is quality competition.”

One of the most consistent performances was that of the French Next World Energy team, which holds second at the end of day one. “After the practice races we were not really expecting this result. But we’ve worked hard on our video debriefings and it seems to have paid off,” commented helmsman Antoine Lauriot-Prevost. “We didn’t start well, so to finish where we finished is quite good.”

Racing continues on Monday at 11:10am PT.

NZL Sailing Team with ETNZ (NZL)… 2 – 4 – 16 points
Next World Energy (FRA)… 4 – 3 – 15 points
Full Metal Jacket Racing (NZL)… 7 – 1 – 14 points
Swedish Youth Challenge (SWE)… 6 – 2 – 14 points
American Youth Sailing Force (USA)… 1 – 7 – 14 points
ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team (POR)… 3 – 6 – 13 points
Team TILT (SUI)… 8 – 5 – 9 points
All In Racing (GER)… 5 – 8 – 9 points
USA45 Racing (USA)… 9 – 9 – 4 points
Objective Australia (AUS)… 10 – 10 – 2 points

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