“It’s amazing. It’s exciting. It’s wet, fast and fun.” That’s how Will Tiller, the skipper of Full Metal Jacket described sailing the AC45 wing-sail catamaran but he could very well have been talking about the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup itself.
The new competition for national teams of youth sailors aged 19-24 provided thrills, spills and plenty of action over four days of intense racing on San Francisco Bay. The New Zealand Sailing Team with Emirates Team New Zealand had a strong closing day to beat their fierce rivals on Full Metal Jacket (NZL) and the ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team from Portugal to win the inaugural title.
“It’s been amazing to actually take the win,” said Peter Burling, the skipper of the New Zealand Sailing Team. “We got a lot better during the racing. It’s amazing to take the win and quite humbling to do it under the Emirates Team New Zealand banner.”
His rival, Will Tiller, made this a Kiwi one-two on the leaderboard with a strong, consistent performance over the four days of racing.
“It’s been an incredible journey and I think the team has developed really well, but there’s still a way to go to catch Pete’s team, who are very, very strong and dominant,” said Full Metal Jacket skipper Will Tiller. “There’s so much work that has to happen behind the scenes to get to this point. We’ve had to put together everything ourselves, to be self-sufficient. So we’re very proud to get this close to the top.”
The leaderboard was tight throughout the regatta. The 10 youth teams, representing 8 countries, pogoed up and down the points’ table with each race result leading to tense moments on the final day. In the end, just three points separated second from fifth place. When the Swiss Team TILT won race 7, they became the sixth different crew to claim a race win in the regatta.
Swiss skipper Lucien Cujean had an outstanding start in Wednesday’s lone race and led all the way around the track to jump from sixth place to fourth overall, just one point shy of the podium.
The big winner on the day was the ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team, who scored a second place to lift themselves onto the podium ahead of the Swiss and the American Youth Sailing Force who had a disappointing eighth place finish, dropping from third to fifth overall.
“We were very happy. This has been a great opportunity for us and we’re so proud to show that Portugal has top sailors too,” said Antonio Mello from the ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team.
Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, the double Olympic gold medalists who serve as Sports Directors of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, have been a driving force behind the event and are impressed with the level of talent they’ve seen.
“The young guys are amazing. They are racing the boats really hard and the competition is very tough,” Hagara said. “I think the best team won. But all of the teams have shown massive development. They learned so much here and the racing has been very tight which is great for the spectators as well.”
“The sailors are taking a lot out of this, whether they finished in first or in tenth,” said Steinacher. “They've seen the way the professionals at the America's Cup operate and I think they've all learned so much about what it takes to succeed at the highest level of our sport.”
One race was sailed on Wednesday with the strong winds whipping up San Francisco Bay well outside the prescribed limit and building further as the day progressed.
Red Bull Youth America’s Cup – Standings
1. NZL Sailing Team with Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 2-RDG-7-3-1-1-4 – 57 points
2. Full Metal Jacket Racing (NZL) 7-1-4-6-6-3-5 – 45 points
3. ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team (POR) 3-6-1-8-8-5-2 – 44 points
4. Team TILT (SUI) 8-5-2-2-9-7-1 – 43 points
5. American Youth Sailing Force (USA) 1-7-3-5-7-4-8 – 42 points
6. Swedish Youth Challenge (SWE) 6-2-9-1-4-6-10 – 39 points
7. Objective Australia (AUS) RDG-10-6-10-2-3 – 38 points
8. Next World Energy (FRA) 4-4-8-4-5-9-6 – 37 points
9. All In Racing (GER) 5-8-5-9-3-8-9 – 30 points
10. USA45 Racing (USA) 9-9-10-7-10-10-7 – 15 points
(RDG = redress awarded by International Jury)
Race 8 is scored double points
Fast facts about the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup
- The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup runs from September 1-4 and is based out of the America’s Cup Village at Marina Green
- The format is fleet racing – 2 races per day, for an 8 race series, with racing beginning at 11:10am each day. The final race will carry double-points
- The boats are AC45 catamarans powered by giant wing sails – the same boats used by the America’s Cup teams in the AC World Series from 2011-2013
- Teams are composed of six sailors, aged 19-24, who represent their country through a nationality rule.
More than 70 territories are broadcasting the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. Live coverage and replays are available internationally on both the America’s Cup and Red Bull YouTube channels, subject to territorial restrictions, as well as within the America’s Cup app. Additional b-roll footage, web clips, photos and stories are available at the Red Bull Sailing Newsroom.