Last week, six lucky members from the KSSS (Royal Sweden Sailing Society) Youth Sailing Team were treated to a full week of the America’s Cup Experience courtesy the Artemis Racing Youth Program.
These Olympic hopefuls were chosen from a large pool of the clubs talented sailors and immersed into the Artemis Racing program, from early morning work outs, to working in the shed, transporting sails and gear, crew meetings and meals to assembling and launching the AC 45’s. Then the ultimate: sailing on the 45s during regular training session, not just a joy ride.
Alameda was home base for the week, and the KSSS members would rise early for breakfast for the 1.5 hour workout beginning at 7:30 AM at the teams Hanger 12 gym, side by side with the AR team. The old naval hangar has gone through several life cycles since it’s original deployment, and its heavy industrial persona stills lingers. The cavernous structure is packed to the gills with boats, wing development, a sail loft, offices , locker rooms and meeting rooms and the aforementioned gym, which is run under the guidance of the teams resident physiologist, Pete Cunningham.
The Alameda base currently hosts some 107 employees at present and more are on the way. Life begins early with first arrivals checking in at predawn hours and beginning their torturous workouts early. On this day Curtis Blewett, bowman for the team was already at his elevated coffee grinder at the end of gym, cranking out a continuous hour long session. Rotating out on the stationary bikes and dead weights pitman Rodney Ardern and grinder Chris Brittle along with Magnus Augustson rotating in on rowing machine. The gym is open to all members, but the sailing team owns it until after 10:30. This day the guests from Stockholm concentrate on the cardio and core flexibility, leaving the heavy lifting to the AC45 Crew.
After the work outs and showers, the teams gather for a daily agenda debriefing and the doors are opened to begin the roll out process. It’s a bit of a hike from the hangar to the crane, and the KSSS crew are put to work pushing the hull the 500 yards or so. The path is narrowed by the NAS site clean up crew vehicles, adding some extra challenge to the exercise, hopefully the arrangement is resolved by the time the AC 72 rolls out later this month.
Awaiting is Crane Operator Dan Allen, a local 3 union operator who has spent some time lifting bits and pieces for the AC programs about the bay. Dan lifted Larry Ellison’s IACC boat into the Oracle HQ lagoon some years ago and was involved in the development phase for the tower crane at Pier 80. Dan indicates they are using a 90 ton 140’ tall crane for these AC 45’s but will be require the 200 ton, 200 foot hydro crane for the AC 72’s. Today's operation in dead calm conditions go flawlessly and methodically, the Artemis shore crew can do this operation in their sleep, and the Youth Team assist with centering the boat under the wing. With all the stays and shrouds attached, the entire rig is then lifted and gently set outside support boats and then guided to the mooring in the lagoon.
Now it’s time for some lunch! The dining facilities at Hangar 12 are very utilitarian and real meals are catered. When the caterer arrives and the chafing dishes are set up, the airhorn is blasted and the entire facility begin to trickle in, and aside from they smallish crew from KSSS, many of the Artemis Team could be easily mistaken for pro football players with an appetite to match. An orderly procession of plates piled high with roast beef, potatoes, sautéed veggies and salad are spread about as the shore crew, technical crews, boat builders, sail makers, office staff, sailing team and guests mingle for a short period.
With lunch done, the excitement build for the guests, as this is there first day actually sailing the AC45, something they have dreamed about for a long time, and it's finally about to happen. After being sized up for proper fitting gear by ace host and hospitality member Cristina Belmonte with assist of Allie Cayard, who has helped direct this entire endeavor from it inception, it’s time to head to the boats. That means hoofing it in your wetsuits and foulies, and if there are sails to be loaded, those will also be needed to be carried. It’s a bit of adventure and a bit of boot camp all rolled into one! The base at Alameda Point is remarkable and deceivingly warm and the breezes light , but the trained eyed can see the fog bank 10 miles to the west, and its rapid pace is in indicator for what’s in store. After a short safety talk and briefing on what will transpire if we experience a capsize, we head out for some sailing.
As indicated earlier, today’s sail is no joyride, it’s an official practice session, and even though there is but one boat, Artemis White with Terry Hutchinson skippering, it’s all business. The first two youth members are loaded in the aft cross bar position, ear to ear grins, they are about as happy as a sailor can be. When we hit the wind line Artemis White takes off and we pursue. And even though the 40’ plus custom rib is awesome fast with its twin v8 Yamaha outboard, the outflowing ebb still serves up a heavy dose steady bounce up at the point end, which is dryer then the not so pointy end.
With marks set to duplicate the course to be utilized for the October ACWS (It’s a bit more east than the August course) a sequence is established and a simulated reaching start with a bear away set is call for, and just like in the real deal the crew dial in the sails, unfurl the genny and burn up some green water as they head off to Alcatraz and the leeward gates. The process is repeated 5-6 times and the youth sailors all get a good rotation on board, a good dose of adrenaline and cold bay spray. As the KSSS members exit off the 45 and back to the chaseboats, the glean is undeniable and even though they are speaking in the their native Swedish, the inflection is that of sheer exuberance.
For tonite, the boat will stay on the water on it’s mooring, so there little to do work wise, the crews head back to the Hangar for a hot shower and debriefing followed by a visit by the Taco Truck and cervezas for those 21 and older.
For the KSSS crew, Wednesday’s program will be repeated for the most part, less dropping the boat in over the next 2 days, and on Saturday, they will race!
The Encinal Yacht Club has a very established youth program as their own and a fleet of Vanguard FJ’s used mostly for their high school jr. sailing program. Team Artemis has united with the EYC for several events and Saturdays Team Match Racing contest is just one of them. With little time to manufacture due to the busy nature of the ACWS, the AC 72 project, moving into the new facilities and a myriad of other issue’s Artemis and the good folk at EYC were able to quickly put together a regatta with some very special perks in rapid fashion. In attendance were teams from EYC, UC Berkeley, Western Washington State and the KSSS Youth members.
Included was breakfast, some awesome pizza delivered to the YC and a delightful BBQ out on the pool deck, with nonstop serious team style match racing from 11:00 to 5:00 and a 45minute presentation by Artemis CEO Paul Cayard. All the crews were provided some cool swag to boot, and the events winners, Western Washington University which narrowly defeated the KSSS crew, claiming the grand prize of a base tour and rides on the AC 45’s for themselves. All in all a fantastic week for the visiting team from Sweden capped off with a superb event for the locals and well traveled youth!
by Erik Simonson
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9:25 AM Wed 19 Sep 2012GMT
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