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Youth America's Cup 2020-2021 and Colin O'Brady's Impossible Row

by David Schmidt 17 Dec 2019 08:00 PST November 17, 2019
The AC9F - to be developed in conjunction with the China Sports Industry Group , is a 9metre foiling monohull will be sailed by a Mixed crew of four sailors aged 18-24yrs © America's Cup Media

The 36th America's Cup (March 6-20, 2021) might still feel like ages away, but things are starting to percolate. The America's Cup World Series 2020 will see its first event sailed on the waters off of Cagliari, Italy, from April 23-26, and teams are permitted to launch their second-generation AC75 foiling monohull raceboats on or after February 1, 2020. While this is encouraging news to sailing fans grown tired of a lengthy dry spell between Cup fixes, these dates were all spelled out months ago. What's new, however, is that word broke last week of the Youth America's Cup 2020-2021, which is expected to see its first fleet racing unfurl on Chinese waters in November 2020, followed by a match racing event (February 18-23, 2021) and the finals (March 8-12, 2021) on New Zealand waters.

Much like the America's Cup, the Youth America's Cup 2020-2021 will be sailed in foiling monohulls, dubbed "AC9Fs", which will use soft sails, L-shaped foils, a central foil, and a single T-shaped rudder. However, unlike the boats that will be used to contest for the Auld Mug, the 30-foot AC9Fs will be built to strict One Design standards.

The newly launched race series is the result of a collaboration between the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, the China Sports Industry Group, and Emirates Team New Zealand. The AC9Fs were designed by Yachting Developments, a New Zealand-based boat building company, in collaboration with the Emirates Team New Zealand design team, North Sails, Southern Spars, and other New Zealand-based marine industry brands. According to the official Youth America's Cup 2020-2021 press release, the boats will be primarily built by Yachting Developments in Auckland.

AC9Fs will be sailed with four-person, mixed-sex crews, with two female sailors and two male sailors. All up, crew weight cannot exceed 686 pounds.

Interestingly, and unlike other youth-focused America's Cup-related racing series, the rules allow multiple entries from the same country. This latter point likely comes as great news to sailing-obsessed countries that are interested in furthering their high-level youth sailing talent.

"The Youth America's Cup is something we have been eager to see established since we won the America's Cup and also introduced foiling monohulls to the America's Cup with the AC75," said Grant Dalton, who serves as CEO of Emirates Team New Zealand, in the same official communication.

"Probably the most important aspect of this is that through the establishment of the Youth America's Cup event, in conjunction with the exciting AC9F boat, a pathway or vital stepping stone for the best young guys and girls from around the world has been created to progress one step closer to sailing on an AC75 in the future," continued Dalton. "It is hard to go past the evidence of our current team that is now made up of a number of crew members from the winning 2013 Youth AC team."

The entry period for the Youth America's Cup 2020-2021 opened on December 12, 2019 and will run through February 29, 2020. Yacht clubs and sailors can expect an entry process that resembles that of the actual America's Cup.

Meanwhile, in adventure news, Colin O'Brady, the current record holder of the fastest times for the Exploder's Grand Slam and the Seven Summits and the first person to cross Antarctica solo and unsupported, has embarked on a new and equally audacious endeavor, dubbed "The Impossible Row" involving the Southern Ocean and sailing's greatest landmark.

On Friday, December 13, O'Brady and a team of two other adventurers departed from Cape Horn for the open waters of the Drake Passage, the bow of their ocean-going rowboat aimed at the Antarctica Peninsula.

If they succeed, they will become the first people to row this body of water, which is widely regarded as one of the planet's most treacherous patches of brine. Interested readers can follow the Impossible Row (including a position tracker and lots of onboard media) here:

Sail-World wishes O'Brady and his team the best of luck as they attempt to ply these frigid and storm-tossed waters, and we look forward to watching the Youth America's Cup 2020-2021 unfurl.

May the four winds blow you safely home,
David Schmidt

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