Young sailors now have an easier path to winning the oldest trophy in international sports, the America's Cup, sailing's prestigious prize, after Thursday's announcement by Red Bull on the creation of the Red Bull Youth America's Cup.
In press conferences in Venice, Italy, and later in San Francisco, California, where a wing-sailed AC45 catamaran was on full display in Union Square, Red Bull declared its intention to give young competitors an early entry towards the America's Cup -- a first for the prestigious sport.
“I think this is one of the most exciting developments in the America’s Cup in a very long time,” said Jimmy Spithill, skipper for Oracle Team USA, in Venice, where he was competing in the America's Cup World Series.
Spithill was the youngest skipper to win the America’s Cup, which takes place every three years, at age 30 in 2010.
“Breaking into the America’s Cup is hard,” he explained. “I was very fortunate when I was 19 to get a break with the Young Australia team, which allowed me to get into the game and get noticed. But this is going to give many more young sailors the same type of opportunity.”
The Red Bull Youth America's Cup -- scheduled for August-September 2013, in San Francisco, during the heart of the 34th America’s Cup racing season -- will race the same high performance, wing-sailed AC45 catamarans currently used in the America’s Cup World Series.
It is open to up to 10 national teams of six sailors, aged 19 to 23 in 2013. Teams can apply for entry to America’s Cup Race Management beginning this summer. One team per country will be accepted and each crew member must hold a valid passport of the country their team represents.
The America’s Cup was first awarded in 1851 -- 45 years before the modern Olympics -- to the winner of a race around the Isle of Wight off the coast of England. The past two America's Cups have been held in Valencia, Spain.
On Thursday, Red Bull also announced its sponsorship of Oracle Racing, which will try to defend its title in San Francisco next year. The team will be on hand for the Red Bull Youth America's Cup to help and give some coaching and tips to the sailing stars of tomorrow.
“We are talking about literally turning tradition on its head by opening up the America’s Cup to younger sailors, rather than it being closed off and difficult to get a foot in the door,” said Spithill.
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