WOW!... What an amazing experience the past month training and racing the AC45 catamarans in San Francisco has been! I learned so much in a range of areas including being in a team environment, boat work (which there was plenty of on an AC45!), team logistics, how to cook a meal for 7 guys in their 20’s (not easy!), sailing an AC45, trimming a wing sail (which I loved to learn about), picking up tips from being surrounded by other top sailors and much, much more…
On arrival to San Francisco our team was presented with our half assembled AC45 catamaran, which we would spend the majority of our time either maintaining or sailing on over the next month. The AC45 is a slick machine compared to a Laser or any other boat I have sailed before. In order to keep it running smoothly and all in one piece on the water required a lot of on shore work. All of that maintenance was well worth it though when you got to rip around at high speeds and see the benefits of putting in hours of onshore work.
Launching the AC45 for the first time - it is quite a technical, tricky process!
After spending a few full days finishing off the assembly of our boat we finally got to go out on the San Francisco bay and begin our training. The whole team was psyched to get out on the water and begin the steep learning curve! We had a great training plan as a team thanks to tips from Joey Allen from ETNZ, on what areas to focus on during our training that would make the biggest gains for us against the other 9 teams come race day. It was important for us to maximize our limited training time so the help from the ETNZ crew was very beneficial! This resulted in us mainly focusing on specific boat handling drills during the first week of training, and then putting it into practice race situations against other teams closer towards the event kicking off.
Training day two - do you think we are having any fun?...
After three weeks in San Francisco the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup was finally upon us and the team was in great spirits. We had a solid build up – confidence in our boat-speed, maneuvers, and everyone was gelling well both on and off the water to make for some fun times. The eight races were held over four days right off the Marina Green area of the city. We had great conditions and most races were sailed in anywhere between seven and fifteen knots of wind. The racing was close quarter, high paced, action packed and physically exhausting!
Start of race 4 - what a beauty (NZL 2)
Sending it on day 3 towards a race win on the final reach...
The fleet going around the bottom gate marks...
After two days of racing our team was not completely satisfied, but we had very productive debriefs each night after dinner and improved massively each day. We upped our game on the starting line come the second half of the regatta and after two race wins on the third day, we had a handy lead going into the final race day. Only one race was completed on the final day due to the wind building too much, and we did enough that race to solidly wrap up the event and be crowned the first ever Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Champions! Congrats to the other NZ team for sailing well and finishing second ahead of Portugal in third.
RBYAC Champions after the final day...
Top of the podium as a team...
All I can say is that it was probably one of the most exciting months I have experienced and it was awesome to be a part of such a fun team of talented sailors my age. Everyone on the team had their specific roles, and just got on with it knowing when and where to help out.
Grant Beck was our team coach and I can’t thank him enough for all the help. An awesome personality that fitted in perfectly with the team and he knew how to get us into action come race day - perfect. Richard Burling was also a huge help all month, managing most of our team logistics which none of us would have had any time for with the busy schedule! The whole crew at ETNZ was great to our team, allowing us to use their facilities without distracting them. Specifically, Joey Allen was a huge help with analyzing our video at debriefs when he had a spare minute or two, and guys like Glenn Ashby who really taught me a lot on how to set up and trim a wing sail. Good luck to those guys over the next week or two! Go ETNZ!!!
Our team supporters were awesome and we couldn’t have been in San Francisco without their help! Yachting NZ, the NZL Sailing Team, Rodd and Gunn, Zhik, SOS Rehydrate, Sea Blade, Lancer, Harken and Health Zone were all massive contributors, thanks! A special thanks to the Silvey family for generously lending us their amazing house for the month and going out of their way to make us feel at home in San Francisco. Also to all of the individuals that donated through ‘thrill pledge’ and had their names printed on the back of our boat, it all made a huge difference!
I am now back in NZ, getting stuck into my Olympic Laser training program in preparation for the 2013 Laser World Championships, being held in Oman later this year. I am excited for this next challenge and to try and better my previous efforts at the Laser World Champs.
In other news… it is exciting to have SOS Rehydrate on board as a supplier for my Olympic campaign. I noticed a big difference in the SOS product compared to any other sports rehydration product that I have previously tried. With far less sugar but still the benefits of other sports drinks, SOS kept our entire RBYAC team hydrated. There was no long lasting thick saliva left in your mouth after getting SOS down you between races, that I often find with other sports drinks. I am excited to make the most of the product, with Oman being an extremely hot venue for the World Championship, and Rio being another hot climate. I am sure SOS will have a big positive impact on my 2016 Olympic Campaign! www.sosrehydrate.com
Thanks to everyone for all of the continued support!