by Hannah Davis
NZL Sailing Team get to sail the AC45
New Zealand’s young Olympic medal hopefuls from the NZL Sailing Team, the Yachting equivalent of the All Blacks, were given a chance to experience the ‘next step’ in their sailing careers when they spent the afternoon sailing the AC45.
For Jo Aleh, Olivia Powrie, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke it was second-time lucky after sailing was cancelled earlier in the week due to lack of breeze.
NZL Sailing Team - New Zealand’s National Sailing Team competing in Olympic event regattas
Peter and Blair, who on a normal day are training for London 2012 in the 49er, are both pretty excited about the possibilities of taking the step up to the Youth America’s Cup in the AC45. (Weren't you supposed by be at University, today? - Ed)
'It’s a little different from the 49er, but is definitely the next step for us. Our target this year and next is the Olympics, but then after that I’m definitely keen to get involved,' said Tuke.
'It’s quite surprising how responsive the boat is. It’s amazing how much power you get out of the wing, how easily you can be flying a hull,' said Burling, 49er skipper, who got a brief chance to steer the AC45.
Though America’s Cup teams being typically male dominated in the past, Jo and Olivia can see an America's Cup future for females with a boat like the AC45.
'I hope there is a mixed crew. I don’t think you could have an all female crew because there are some jobs that still need that ‘brute strength’ but there are definitely jobs that the girls can do just as well as the boys,' said Aleh. (Like steering - in fact maybe better - Ed)
NZL Sailing Team members Olivia Powrie, Jo Aleh, Peter Burling, Blair Tuke with Jimmy Spithill and Peter Montgomery
For now the four young sailors are focused on adding to NZL’s Olympic medal collection but as Olivia said: ' Young sailors will be jumping at the chance to sail the AC45 because it’s new, it’s fast and it’s exciting.'
And these young sailors are no exception. The AC45 and Youth America’s Cup are set firmly in their sights.