The 34th America’s Cup opened up opportunities for a new breed of America’s Cup sailor. Fitter, younger, new to the game, but bursting with accomplishments in dinghy classes where going fast, and sailing on the edge were the daily routine.
Plenty of young sailors played prominent roles in this America’s Cup, including Kyle Langford, at 24 the youngest sailor in the event, who was thrust into a starring role as the wing trimmer on ORACLE TEAM USA.
Langford (AUS) will be sought after as teams begin recruiting for the next Cup. And here are five other names to look for as teams start assembling talent for the 35th America’s Cup:
Nathan Outteridge (AUS)
Outteridge (27) burst on to the America’s Cup scene with Team Korea at the AC World Series in 2012. The Olympic gold medalist (49er) immediately made an impression for being calm, cool and most importantly, for driving fast. And because of that, he was quickly scooped up by Artemis Racing and promoted to their primary helmsman. Will he remain with Artemis Racing, or be scooped up by the Australian team?
Chris Draper (GBR)
Draper (35) was with Team Korea before Outteridge, and like his successor, he was pulled in by one of the big teams – Luna Rossa. Also an Olympic medalist in the 49er (bronze, 2004), Draper used his skills to great effect in the AC World Series, winning the first event Luna Rossa participated in. But it wasn’t always easy fitting in as part of the anglo-saxon contingent on a primarily Italian team. Will he come back? Or would he find life better with a new British challenge?
Ben Ainslie (GBR)
At 36 years old, Ainslie wouldn’t count himself among the youngsters in the game. But the four-time Olympic gold medalist is one of the biggest names in sailing and his achievement as tactician for ORACLE TEAM USA in September has only ratcheted up his value. His stated goal is to bring the America’s Cup back to Britain. Is this the time he gets a team to help him realize that dream? If not, he’d be at the top of the list for any team looking to win the Cup.
Tom Slingsby (AUS)
Another Olympic gold medalist (Laser, 2012), Slingsby was one of the young guns (29) on ORACLE TEAM USA who helped to bring the average crew age on the defender down by about 10 years compared to the challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand. Slingsby was in the strategist role for ORACLE TEAM USA and formed a brilliant, nearly unbeatable, pairing with Ainslie. Again, there may be a tug of pressure to come home and play a leading role with an Australian challenge.
Peter Burling (NZL)
At 22, Burling is the youngest on our list. He sailed in one event at the AC World Series, for Team Korea (again) but he really distinguished himself by winning the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup for New Zealand. If the Kiwis challenge again and make good on a promise to renew with younger talent, Burling is sure to be near the head of the recruitment list. A silver medalist behind Outteridge,at the 2012 Olympic Games, Burling would be an asset to any team looking for young talent.