Five of the best youth sailing teams in the world have qualified for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup 2013 following a grueling two-week Selection Series in San Francisco. The 12 crews from 11 countries fought in challenging winter conditions on San Francisco Bay 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.
“We’re pretty psyched," said Will Tiller, the skipper for Team New Zealand / Full Metal Jacket Racing. "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."
Double Olympic Gold medalists Roman Hagara (AUT) and Hans-Peter Steinacher (AUT), 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 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. We broke both of those rules on the very first day!" -- Hans-Peter Steinacher
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.
“My pathway to the America’s Cup was one of good luck," said Jimmy Spithill, skipper of Oracle Team USA. "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."
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