With less than three weeks to go before the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, training is well underway and the excitement and anticipation is building rapidly among the teams.
Next World Energy Sailing’s skipper Arthur Ponroy described the current feeling among the sailors. “Everyone is very happy, very excited to be here. There is a very good atmosphere,” he said.
That atmosphere is due in large part to the teams’ surroundings. The RBYAC base shares Piers 30/32 with Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge and the young sailors are thrilled to be neighbors to the big boys. “It’s great to be so close to them. It lets us dream a little bit. Maybe in five or 10 years it will be us – we’ll be in these big team camps,” said Ponroy.
That is the end goal for many of these young sailors, who are well aware of the doors that this event could open. “Hopefully the (America’s Cup) teams look at this and take something from it. That’s what it’s all about. One day getting on a Cup team is the dream and this is the best way to do it,” said Full Metal Jacket’s Shaun Mason.
This is the first time a youth series has been scheduled as part of the America’s Cup and it is a huge thrill for these young sailors to be part of such an event. “To be associated with such an amazing part of our sport is really an incredible experience. It’s a huge opportunity,” said Objective Australia Skipper Jason Waterhouse.
This sentiment was echoed by Mason, who was blown away by the set up in San Francisco. “You realize how big it is once you get over here. It’s so cool that the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup is going to be a big part of the show,” he said.
Many of these sailors have not been on the AC45 catamarans since the selection trials earlier this year, so these first few days of practice are mainly about becoming reacquainted with the wing sail catamaran. Mason noted that with three weeks remaining before racing begins on Sept. 1, the teams are anxious to maximize the little training time they have.
“Once we get out sailing we’ll get a bit more of an idea of what we need to work on...what we should be putting our energy into. It’s not long to go training. We’ve only got a couple of weeks so it’s going to be quite full on,” said Mason.
The AC45s certainly test even the most accomplished sailors, but it’s a challenge that these young sailors are thrilled to be taking on. As Objective Australia’s Waterhouse said, “It’s going to be a big challenge. The boats are a handful. The boys know that, I know that. All of the teams know that, but who cares? It’s like Christmas every day when you get to sail one of these.”
Next World Energy Team’s Ponroy feels the mental test could be a big hurdle to overcome. “The AC45s are very fast and very physical. We’ve never raced on a boat like this so we will see what the real issues are, but I think the relationship between people will be tested. In very hard situations, when people are exhausted, this will be the real problem.”
The sailors are hoping to take in some of the action during the Louis Vuitton Cup Final, but say there will be little time for sightseeing as their training schedule intensifies in the lead up to their event. “The issue will be to stay focused and not go crazy because we are in San Francisco!” said Ponroy.