After an intense two-week selection series, five teams emerged triumphant in their bid to compete in the first-ever Red Bull Youth America's Cup this September 1-4. Teams from Australian, Germany, Portugal, New Zealand and Switzerland all made the cut based on race results, planned Youth AC training program, and professionalism on and off the water.
With a pool of twelve teams vying for spot in the Youth AC, the selection series proved to be a fast-paced week of trials that tested the mettle of these sailors, both on and off the water. The youth sailors were treated to grueling fitness tests on day one of their sessions, resulting in one team learning the hard way that burritos should be eaten after a body-shaking workout and not before.
Next, the teams moved into shore training, learning how to rig, tune and sail the boat before hitting the water. They also prepared for the worst, learning capsize and other safety procedures. Then it was onto water training, beginning with open-water training, followed by learning how to turn around marks and courses. Finally, the series ended with three days of racing, a process that saw multiple lead changes and winners each day.
Despite having just a short amount of time to learn to sail and race a wing-sailed catamaran, these youth teams were motivated and quickly learned how to handle the AC45. New frontrunners materialized every day as the crews got more comfortable with the power and speed of the boats. The decision on who would advance was not an easy one. The official selection team – led by Red Bull Youth America's Cup Sports Directors Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, and America's Cup Director of Rules and Umpires Mike Martin – had their hands full as the twelve teams pulled out all of the stops to earn one of the coveted spots.
"The skills of the teams far exceeded our expectations," said Martin, a resident of Mill Valley. "There were many teams that would have represented their countries well in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup, but unfortunately, we could only select five."
These five teams will be joining the five youth teams supported by official America's Cup competitors for a total of 10 boats on the starting line in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup. To compete in the Youth America's Cup, sailors must be aged 19-24.