The Red Bull Youth America's Cup concluded sooner than expected today (Wednesday) in San Francisco: the eighth and final race, which was supposed to count double – and so was crucial for the final outcome – was cancelled as the wind went above the maximum of 18.6 knots stipulated in the rules. In the end, only seven races counted for this America's Cup for the 19 to 24 year olds.
Congratulations to the two New Zealand teams, who grabbed the top two places and to the Portuguese, who made it to the podium, which is something that was not widely expected. The French youngsters on Next World Energy have every right to feel disappointed: their eight place is not really representative of their level. Today, they raced three quarters of the only race up amongst the top three before finishing sixth.
A twelve knot SW’ly wind and brilliant sunshine around the Golden Gate with a moderate tidal current. The conditions were perfect in San Francisco for the penultimate fleet race in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup. The start with the wind on the beam was as spectacular as ever, but three boats were too high and crossed the starting line too soon, while the French on Next World Energy, clear in the middle of the line got a perfect start: the speed was there and they soon found themselves in third place, then second behind the Swiss by gate number two. On the third leg, Next World Energy found itself doing battle against the Portuguese AC45 for second place. The French youngsters moved off to find clean air and avoid the current close to shore alongside the docks in San Francisco. It was very tight between the first six boats at the front, who regularly changed positions on the upwind leg. The choice of which gate to head for was very important.
There was a close fight between the Portuguese, French and Australians at Gate 3, thirty seconds after the Swiss. They found it tough hoisting the code 0, but Next World Energy was still up with the frontrunners. At a downwind speed of twenty knots, Arthur Ponroy and Antoine Lauriot-Prévost crew proved once again that they know how to sail an AC45 quickly. At the fourth gate, Next World Energy, then in third place behind the Swiss and Portuguese, went for the opposite buoy from their two close rivals. Unfortunately, this gamble did not pay off and Next World Energy lost ground on the fifth leg. At Gate 5, the Swiss were still well and truly in charge ahead of the Portuguese and Australians.
Next World Energy rounded in sixth position. At high speeds on the final leg, the Swiss did not make any mistakes. They won the race after leading from start to finish after 26 minutes and 35 seconds of racing. The Portuguese came in second 20 seconds later with the Australians third. Next World Energy took sixth place 56 seconds after the winner. A great pity, as after a good start to the race, they deserved better than that.
Fleet Race 8 did not take place: the wind quickly got up to above 19 knots after the end of Race 7 and it never came back down again. The Race Committee therefore decided to cancel Race 8. Now we can look forward to the America's Cup and the AC72s with the competition between the American Defender Oracle and the challenger Emirates Team New Zealand. It all begins on Saturday evening from 2000hrs UTC.
Antoine Mermod, team manager for Next World Energy: 'It’s a great pity that the final race had to be cancelled, as we were once again going well. The NZL boat was that much better than the others and fully deserves this victory. But behind them, there was a huge battle from second to tenth place. We have nothing to be ashamed of and can be proud of what we have achieved… We sailed well and did lots of good things. It’s true that sometimes we simply weren’t lucky or not clear, but on the other hand, we sometimes got out of tricky situations. Of course, we’re frustrated with the result, but we have enjoyed a fantastic experience. We worked hard while enjoying ourselves, and I mean the coaches as well as the youngsters. We look forward to competing again on the AC45.'
Arthur Ponroy, skipper of Next World Energy: 'We got off to a great start. For more than half of the race we were in the top three and in the end, we stupidly got caught out by choosing the wrong buoy. We lost three points like that, which brought us down in the rankings. It’s a great pity… Immediately after the race, it’s hard to come to terms with the result on paper, as we were capable of doing so much better. On the other hand, sailing here surrounded by a team like Energy Team and with the support of people at Next World Energy, it was of course fantastic…'
Final rankings in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup
(After seven races with the eight cancelled)
1. NZL Sailing Team with Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 57 points
2. Full Metal Jacket Racing (NZL) 45 points
3. ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team (POR) 44 points
4. Team TILT (SUI) 43 points
5. American Youth Sailing Force (USA) 42points
6. Swedish Youth Challenge (SWE) 39 points
7. Objective Australia (AUS) 38 points
8. Next World Energy (FRA) 37 points
9. All In Racing (GER) 30 points
10. USA45 Racing (USA) 15 points
by Pierre Giboire
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9:15 PM Wed 4 Sep 2013GMT
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