RED BULL YOUTH SAILING – The six teams in the first Selection Series for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup today are taking to the water for their first experience on an AC45.
Yesterday the teams were put through conditioning tests and shown how to rig an AC45. Today they’ll have a chance to sail the boats used by teams in the America’s Cup World Series.
The first session has the teams from Australia (Objective Australia), Austria (Team Austria) and Denmark (Danish Youth Vikings) on the water between 1130 and 1300 hours. The teams from Germany (STG/NRV Youth Team), New Zealand (Full Metal Jacket Racing) and South Africa (i’KaziKati) are scheduled to sail between 1330 and 1500 hours.
“It’s like going to a professional sailing university, but it’s not about learning how to sail. It’s about learning how to be a professional,” said James Wierzbowski, a floater/runner for Objective Australia.
Wierzbowski races beach catamarans such as the Nacra 17 and F18 at home in Australia. And since the Southern Hemisphere is in the middle of summer the team had scant practice time together before coming to San Francisco.
“With our team, everyone knew of everyone else, but we haven’t really been close friends before this,” Wierzbowski said. “Back home we’re in mid-season with the sailing schedule and everyone is really committed to their own class. So we decided the best option was for guys to continue their full-on race training program. We’ve had a few training camps to build the team morale and atmosphere, but we’re all really good sailors and adapt pretty quickly. We’re happy with our lead up to it.
“We’ve got a team of champions, but we need to make it a championship team,” Wierzbowski said.
The first day of sailing for the six teams in the initial selection series for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup was a tale of two halves. The morning session had light winds from the east while the afternoon group got to sail in a 15-knot westerly off Alcatraz Island. Such is the fate of the draw.
But all of the youth sailors were ecstatic after coming off the water. Many of them had never sailed together before, much less an AC45, but they were all buzzing with excitement.
“We had light winds to start but out around Alcatraz it was a great sail,” said 19-year-old Paul Vivian, a floater for South Africa’s i’KaziKati. “We got in lots of maneuvers. It was tricky to get the handling of the boat, but I think the team did much better than expected.”
The South Africans reported reaching 24 knots boatspeed during the exercise. “It was a great feeling to fly a hull,” said Michael Ovenstone, the 22-year-old trimmer.
Lukas Mähr, the 22-year-old wing trimmer for Team Austria, agreed with the South Africans’ sentiment.
“It was great to get the feeling of the boat,” said Mähr, who won a bronze medal as a crew in the 470 class at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami last week before flying to San Francisco.
“We spent a lot of time watching videos of AC45 racing before coming here to figure out the maneuvers,” said Mähr. “The boats have so much power. We just have to focus on the communication. It’s such a big boat, we’re not used to racing on something that big.”
Kyle Langford, one of the ORACLE TEAM USA sailors coaching the youths, said he was impressed by the sailors’ quick ability to pick up the crewing tricks.
“I was riding with the South Africans in the afternoon when there was more breeze and they had some good maneuvers,” said Langford. “They were snapping the gennaker across. It all looked good.”