Country’s best honored in SF—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond

Left to Right: 2012 Rolex Yachtswoman of the year Jennifer French and Rolex Yachtsman of the year Johnny Heineken
Tom O'Neal / Rolex
Each winter, Rolex and US Sailing team up to honor its US Sailing’s 2012 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year recipients. These fine sailors are chosen each year by a panel of sailing journalists, and the awards serve as one of the country’s biggest sailing honors. This year’s winners were kiteboarding phenom Johnny Heineken and Jennifer French who, along with her crewmember, JP Creignou, was the lone skipper to have captured a medal at the London Olympics 2012 or the London Paralympics 2012.

The awards ceremony took place earlier this week in San Francisco at the venerable St. Francis Yacht Club-apropos, given the world-class sailing that’s about to take place on this storied body of water later this year.

'We were standing on their shoulders and fortunate for our outcomes,' said French of the amazing people that offered support and friendship to her team. 'To gain a silver medal…it was not only an honor to represent Team USA but also an honor to follow in the footsteps of [2008 Gold medalist] Nick Scandone and his legend as well.'

For his part, Heineken is excited about how much kiteboarding has evolved in a short span of time. 'Sailing has always been about speed to me,' said Heineken. 'I’ve been working with the best guys to stay on top of the game, and I’m fortunate that many of them are from the Bay Area. We’re seeing the sport take off, on the racing side especially; people are noticing they can go sailing in lighter and lighter conditions and still have fun.'

Get the full report on these hyper-talented sailors, inside this issue.

On board NZL5 as Emirates Team New Zealand practice race against Luna Rossa on the Hauraki Gulf. 20/2/2013

Meanwhile, in America’s Cup news, word has emerged that Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa have stepped up their level of pre-Louis Vuitton Cup (LVC) racing with a friendly, semi-serious match-up on New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf. Inside, don’t miss the fantastic video coverage of the two mammoth catamarans. This is the closest thing that the world has seen, to date, of AC72 racing, and there’s little doubt that this year’s LVC and AC34 will be a truly spectacular show.

Also AC related, Artemis Racing, the Challenger of Record for AC34, recently announced that they have already started construction on a second-generation AC72 in the team’s home country of Sweden. According to plans, the new boat should be sailing on the Bay by early May. Currently, the team’s first-generation AC72 is back in the shed, undergoing substantial modifications to give her better wick compared to the other AC72s afloat. Interestingly, it’s not yet known whether Artemis’ new boat will foil, or whether it will be a more 'traditional' catamaran.

Artemis Racing and Oracle Team USA AC72 training in San Francisco Bay in early February

'Foiling has become as big a feature of this America’s Cup as the wing,' wrote Artemis CEO, Paul Cayard. 'Emirates Team New Zealand has demonstrated good control of their boat while fully foiling downwind. Luna Rossa has a virtual copy of the Kiwi’s boat. Oracle is trying a variation on the theme and so far hasn’t achieved the same degree of steady flight. Foiling has a cost in term of the amount of drag produced by the dagger-boards. So far, Artemis has not pursued fully foiling. It will be interesting to see which strategy pans out.'

Olympic Talent Joins Artemis Racing - John Gimson and Iain Jensen

Artemis also announced three new key crew appointments this week, namely that 2012 Olympic medalists Iain Jensen and Andrew Simpson have joined the Challenger of Record’s squad, and that 2016 Olympic hopeful John Gimson has also donned team colors. 'These young sailors bring talent and enthusiasm to our team,' said Cayard. 'They are the future of the America’s Cup.'

Emirates Team NZ - 26 February 2013

Finally, be sure to check out Richard Gladwell’s great image gallery of AC72s 'docking out' from their dock space in Auckland Harbor, get the latest news from the RS:X Worlds, and don’t miss the update from the upcoming Bacardi Cup.

May the four winds blow you safely home,