Youth America's Cup 2013 - The American Youth Sailing Force (The Force) trained with Oracle Team USA coaches on AC45 catamarans three days last week and then went sailing with at risk students from San Francisco’s Downtown High School showing them first hand that you can follow your passion and earn a living on the water.
Youth America’s Cup - the Force training in AC45
OTUSA’s coaching staff put The Force on the AC45’s in a wide range of conditions last week. Their goal was to help the team more effectively sail the very high-performance, very powerful AC45s. Force teammate, Evan Sjosjedt truly appreciates their input. 'Darren Bundock is an awesome coach to have at the back of the boat, he's always super helpful and friendly. Besides the invaluable on the water coaching, we spent a while going over each day's on board footage to dissect and discuss every tack, gybe and mark rounding with him.' And Sailing Team Manager, Ian Andrewes says, 'Its great having access to these guys. They have been doing it so long and have so much information to share.'
The Force is an exceptionally skilled group of youth sailors. Yet, as with any new yacht, time in the boat is vital to knowing how to sail it and to get the most out of its individual quirks and nuances. According to helmsman Michael Menninger, 'I learned, as a driver, that the more communication, the better. Keeping everyone on the same page and working towards the same immediate goal improves the cohesiveness within every maneuver. I also learned a few things about sailing the boat in a straight line. The more time in the 45 will be really helpful for all of us in our learning process.' Andrewes continues, 'This past week we have been really working hard on laylines and timing. These boats are tricky and with a reaching start style course, things can get overwhelming fast.'
Time on the water is vital to effectively sailing the AC45s. It is also fundamental to increasing the Force’s confidence as a whole. Menninger is feeling the confidence. 'This last weekend was actually the first time we have all sailed together as a team, and it was only the third, fourth, and fifth day on the boat. We were successfully racing around a short course in around 12-14 knots so I think that is a pretty good start. Once we get stronger in the gym and get more training days on the boat I expect our confidence levels to get even higher. And Sjosjedt adds, 'I'm definitely feeling more confident, mostly individually and as a whole team. Our time spent in the gym and sailing together on other fast multihulls has translated onto the 45 really well. The team has shown a huge improvement since we all sailed the 45 last November, and I'm looking forward to our next session on the boats.'
Other team activities this past week include partnering with local high school students. 'As a team we have been working with the Downtown High School of San Francisco,' says Andrewes. 'They are part of this program where they get to draft, build and sail wooden boats. Where our team gets involved is on the sailing side…to show them that sailing is much more then just a rich man's sport.' Menninger certainly enjoyed the experience, 'Sailing with the high school kids today was great. It was a beautiful day with nice breeze. The kids were really stoked to get out sailing and ‘ooo'd’ and ‘awww'd’ when the Oracle 45 went foiling by. They all asked me questions about driving the boat, what makes it go faster, and about how much sailing I've done growing up. All in all, I had a lot of fun sailing around with the kids and letting them drive.' The team will be back on the water with these same kids in April and both sides are looking at having fun doing it.
Next up, we’ll be sailing with Oakland at-risk kids across the Bay to the Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show in Oakland’s Jack London Square aboard two Sunsail charter boats. It will be a first for these kids to be out in the main bay and they’re really looking forward to it.
Youth Americas Cup 2013