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Eight of Red Bull Youth #americascup stars to battle it out for the main prize.
In six weeks' time, eight sailors who found their feet in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup will begin competing in the America’s Cup itself.
Set up in 2013 as a breeding ground for the next crop of top-flight sailors aged 18 to 24 – and likened to the link between college football and the NFL - the purpose was for the sailors to learn the skills to fight for sport’s oldest trophy.
Now those original youngsters have a key role to play in the outcome of the main #event in Bermuda come May while a new breed of youngsters enter the second ever Youth America's Cup come June time.
Austrian double Olympic gold medallist Hans Peter Steinacher, among the Youth America’s Cup founders, explained: “The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup changed the whole America’s Cup world – the age group that’s sailing on the boats dropped by about 10 years.
“All the teams saw that the new boats fit the young generation exactly. So the sailing leaders of the world are picking younger sailors than before.”
Along with fellow Olympic double gold medallist Roman Hagara and the America’s Cup #event Authority, Steinacher set up the venture to identify the world’s best sailors globally.
From that first regatta in the same San Francisco waters where Team Oracle USA beat Team New Zealand, teams from various nations battled it out for the youth honours
Among those to have made the step up to the main America’s Cup for this year are youth winners Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, the Kiwi pair who also won gold at the 2016 Olympics.
Burling is now helmsman for Team New Zealand while Tuke is the team’s trimmer. Of the remaining octet, American Cooper Dressler will be the grinder for the event’s defending champions.
His skipper Jimmy Spithill hailed the role of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup: “There’s never been a pathway for youth sailors. Now, we have that pathway. It’s essentially what college football is to the NFL – a breeding ground of new talent. And it works."
Ten teams from Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA took part in the inaugural #event four years ago in 45-training boats lent to them by the America’s Cup crews.
And Steinacher added: “The athletes who performed at their very best in San Francisco are now among the top sailors in the world.
“Some sail alongside Roman and me on the Red Bull Sailing Team in the #extreme Sailing Series. Others returned to their Olympic path and dominated their classes, and some have got a professional contract in the America’s Cup.”
This year’s Youth America’s Cup will use exactly the same racecourse as their more senior sailors in Bermuda but competing in the AC45F, a catamaran with a mast as high as an eight-storey building and flying on hydrofoils. The boats can reach speeds of over 35 knots – the equivalent to 65kph.
Of the challenge ahead, Steinacher says: “The America’s Cup boat for 2017 is very nearly 50 feet and the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup boat is 45 so there’s only five feet of difference. It’s very challenging for the youth sailors.”
There will be 12 national teams of six sailors each competing in the series with six teams in each pool for the June qualifiers. The countries represented this time are Austria, Bermuda, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.
The qualifiers take place from 12-16 June with the finals on 20-21 June.
The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Finals will be streamed live on Red Bull TV on June 20 and June 21.
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