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America's Cup: Youth and Womens announced - entries build to 12 nations

by America's Cup Media 21 Apr 2023 14:42 PDT 22 April 2023
Emirates Team NZ's two AC40's cross tacks outside the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron - February 2, 2023 © Richard Gladwell - Sail-World.com / nz

The line-up for the Youth & Women’s America’s Cup has been completed with the announcement that teams from Germany, Sweden and Australia will be joining the established six official entrants for the America’s Cup representing New Zealand, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, America and France alongside the already confirmed Youth & Women’s America’s Cup teams representing Spain, the Netherlands and Canada.

The newly confirmed entrants are as follows:

Germany – ‘EmbRacing Team Germany’ on behalf of the Kieler Yacht Club 3.V and Norddeutscher Regatta Verein

Sweden – ‘Swedish Women’s AC Challenge / Swedish Youth AC Challenge’ on behalf of the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club and the Royal Swedish Yacht Club.

Australia – ‘Team Australia Challenge’ on behalf of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia

The new teams now start the planning and selection trials for both their Youth and Women’s squads who will compete in Pool B against Spain, the Netherlands and Canada in a scheduled six to nine fleet race series, with all races to count, to determine the top three teams from each Group (A&B) to proceed to the Final Series where they will meet Youth & Women’s teams representing the America’s Cup syndicate countries.

A further fleet race series of up to four races will then be completed to decide the top two teams who will proceed to the one race finals where the sailors will compete head-to-head in a match race to determine the winner of each regatta.

For the Youth America’s Cup, the final race is scheduled to be held on the 2nd October 2024, with a reserve day on the 3rd October 2024, in between one of the official flights of America’s Cup Challenger Selection Series Finals.

The Women’s America’s Cup final race is scheduled to be sailed on the 16th October 2024, with a reserve day for the 17th October 2024, in between races in the Match for the America’s Cup. Maximum exposure will thus be guaranteed to the next generation of foiling superstars who could well springboard forward to future America’s Cup campaigns.

The opportunity is huge, and the pathway is lit for the future stars of the America’s Cup to shine. The confirmed new entrants have some serious backing both in terms of national support and funding and are all pointing towards a bright future, as well as being excited by the opportunity.

John Bertrand, the legendary winning skipper from the 1983 Australia II campaign who changed the course of the America’s Cup after 132 years of American dominance, is one of the Patrons of the new ‘Team Australia Challenge’ on behalf of the Cruising Club of Australia and he sees a huge possibility, saying: “I am delighted to come onboard as a Patron of the Team Australia Challenge. Rarely does one have an opportunity of presenting our country on the world stage such as this. To have our women and youth represented in the America’s Cup is a new era. We have a challenge here of national importance!”

Meanwhile, Tina Lutz, one of the hopeful candidates for a slot on the German Women’s Team, EmbRacing Team Germany, exemplified the spirit and goals of the Women’s America’s Cup saying: “When I won the Optimist World Championship in 2005, I was invited to Malmo¨ in Sweden to come onboard as 18th man with the BMW Oracle Racing Team. Chris Dickson was the skipper and he even allowed me to gybe! In this moment I thought - one day I want to sail the America’s Cup myself. Years passed by and I thought I would never be able to fulfil this childhood dream. Now this could change! I am so much looking forward to let this dream come true.”

The Swedish Women’s and Youth entry will bring the popular and colourful sailing nation back into the America’s Cup fold with their entry skippered by Women’s World Match Champion Anna Östling. “We are thrilled to be invited and we will give it all to perform our best in Barcelona. But even more important is that this event will bring Sweden together and with the two Royal Yacht Clubs standing behind both the women and the youth challenge we strongly believe that this will have a huge impact on the clubs, all members and young kids sailing in Sweden. Im proud and looking forward to making this campaign a success together with both KSSS and GKSS”, said Östling.

One of the busiest of the new teams, and sure to excite local Spanish interest, has been the confirmed Spanish entry, Sail Team BCN and Team Principal Guillermo Altadill has been hard at work identifying top-ranking candidates to fill the places in both the Spanish Youth and Women’s teams, saying: “We want to find the right moment, not too early but not too late, to make the last selection to have 16 sailors (8 women and 8 youth) and when they are free from their Olympic obligations, start training in different foiling boats until we get access to the AC40. As a host team and representing the country, we have an obligation and the formula to fulfil it is very simple: we need to have a good budget, train hard, and have a high-quality sailing team.”

Hans Huis in ‘t Veld, the Chairman of the DutchSail Foundation sees the Netherland’s entry into both the Youth and Women’s America’s Cup as an important first step to wider participation and that encouraging the next generation is paramount, saying: “That we as DutchSail managed to do this under the flag of the KNZ&RV and the KR&ZV ‘de Maas’ is fantastic news. First of all, of course for the talented Dutch sailors, women and men, who will soon be onboard. But certainly, also for Dutch sailing in general, talent must be given the opportunity to present and perform in the most prestigious sailing disciplines which is being made possible for the next generation thanks to this participation in the Women’s America’s Cup and Youth America’s Cup.

Meanwhile Canada’s sailing talent on the world circuits at the moment is well-known and Jim Turner, the CEO of AC40 Team Canada, is keen to progress this by encouraging the next generation of talent to rise through the ranks. Speaking about the opportunity, Jim commented: “I’d like to thank Grant and his team at Emirates Team New Zealand for their vision in creating this exciting new platform with the first ever Women’s Americas Cup. With the incredible new AC40 class and a return of the youth event, AC40 Team Canada is champing at the bit to get sailing and learning the AC40 with a new generation of sailors from across the country.”

And Jim’s words were echoed by Isabella Bertold, the Team Principal and Skipper of the Women’s Canadian team, saying: “AC40 Team Canada is so much more to me than Canada winning the inaugural Women’s America’s Cup. This is an opportunity for women to develop their skillsets alongside male counterparts and ultimately take leading roles in technical teams, corporate teams, and of course the sailing team. Beyond that, we are paving a pathway for the next generation."

Selection trials and engagement programmes are well underway worldwide with the likes of Alinghi Red Bull Racing launching an attraction programme across Switzerland and on social media fronted by Matias Bühler and Coraline Jonet whilst the Orient Express Racing Team have already been able to hold trials in France to form an initial squad from which the final candidates will be selected

Some clubs such as the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club already have significant youth and women’s divisions to find the next generation of foiling talent but it’s clear overall that the pathway through to the America’s Cup and the top level of foiling on the planet has been significantly opened.

It has never been a better time for Youth & Women to achieve their potential in the America’s Cup – the world’s longest standing international sporting event.

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