With less than 100 days to go until the start of the 35th America’s Cup, double Olympic champions Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher personally delivered the first AC45F boat for this year's Red Bull Youth America’s Cup regatta in Bermuda.
(Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher take the AC45F for a spin in Bermuda. Photo: Robert Snow / Red Bull)
The boats were launched in time for the NZL Sailing Team, who travel to Bermuda at the end of the month for a period of training on the cutting-edge catamaran.
Together with America’s Cup sailors from Oracle Team USA and SoftBank Team Japan, the Austrian duo conducted initial sea trials, flying across the Great Sound. The same waters will host the Red Bull Youth America's Cup on June 12-21, an event that will see the next generation of sailors representing a dozen countries as they look for a potentially career-making win in the youth event that’s changing the face of sailing.
The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup was created to give talented sailors aged 18-24 an unprecedented career pathway and the inaugural event was won by the NZL Sailing Team. Jimmy Spithill, the two-time America’s Cup-winning skipper who helms Oracle Team USA, describes the regatta as “the gateway for the next generation into the America’s Cup. It’s essentially what college football is to the NFL – a breeding ground of new talent. And it works.”
The event is the brainchild of Hagara and Steinacher. They developed the first edition of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013 using conventional AC45s without foils. Since then, eight sailors from that regatta have found positions on America’s Cup boats, including Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (Emirates Team New Zealand) and Cooper Dressler (Oracle Team USA). The AC45s will race again in 2017, flying with the addition of foiling technology.
“The sea trials went perfectly,” Hagara said. “The boats will go twice as fast, probably, as last time – and they are harder to sail, more physical. Teamwork will be very important.”
The same catamaran used by professional sailors in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, the AC45F is a 45-foot wingsailed double-hull – longer than a city bus, with a mast as high as an eight-story building, and capable of more than 35 knots (about 65kph). There will be eight AC4F’s flying simultaneously in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup finals; the only ones in existence.
The 12 six-sailor teams that have emerged from a rigorous selection process are allowed seven days to train with the rare boats before the event in June. “The gap between the teams is very small, so the racing will be very, very tight,” Steinacher said.
The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup takes off in Bermuda with qualifiers for two pools of six teams each on June 12-16. The top four teams from each pool will advance to the finals scheduled for June 20-21.
Team List, Red Bull Youth America’s Cup 2017 (in order by nation): Candidate Sailing Team (Austria), Team BDA (Bermuda), Youth Vikings Denmark, Denmark, Team France Jeune (France), SVB Team Germany (Germany), Land Rover BAR Academy (Great Britain), Kaijin Team Japan (Japan), NZL Sailing Team (New Zealand), Spanish Impulse Team (Spain), Artemis Youth Racing (Sweden), Team Tilt (Switzerland), Next Generation USA (USA)