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America's Cup: Strong Youth and Womens squads announced by Emirates Team New Zealand

by Hamish Hooper/ETNZ & Sail-World NZ 7 Jul 01:53 PDT 7 July 2023
Emirates Team New Zealand - LEQ12 and AC40 - Day 33, June 9, 2023 © Adam Mustill / America's Cup

Emirates Team New Zealand have announced a very strong shortlist of 16 sailors that will trial for the respective Youth and Women's America's Cup teams later this year. They include current World champions, and Olympic medalists.

The Youth squad is a diverse group containing members of the well performed New Zealand team at the recent foiling Moth Worlds and UK Championships in Weymouth; a Youth World champion who has transitioned to the Olympic iQFoil class; the Open World Champion from the 2022 WASZP Worlds; Double handed Youth world champion and now top Foiling Moth sailor; the other team members come from the 49er and Skiff class all with other foiling experience.

The Womens training squad is dominated by Olympic medalists all of whom have substantial experience in foiling classes, either through ETNZ in the AC40, or Nacra 17 at Olympic triallist level, or through the Live Ocean Racing ETF26 program.

The number of applications exceeded initial expectations for Elise Beavis and Josh Junior, and that didn’t make an easy process for them to manage the selections along with the selection panel.

“We received applications from 121 people in total.” said Beavis. “We were hugely impressed by the large number of experienced sailors who applied which has made our job very challenging to select the sailors to progress to the next stage. Just going through the application process has been an encouraging insight to the depth and strength of New Zealand’s sailing future across all sailing disciplines.”

The initial selection process anticipated a shortlist of 8 youth and 8 women’s candidates that would be chosen to have a week’s trial with Emirates Team New Zealand in late 2023, where the candidates will be assessed in a range of tasks and applications.

However due to the high calibre of applicants from the vast range of sailing backgrounds and cross over between youth and women’s eligibility, the youth trial has been expanded and 10 youth sailors have been invited to trial.

“We have decided to shortlist 6 non-youth women at this stage for the women’s team trial instead of 8, however following the youth trial where we have 4 additional women, we will then invite the best-performing youth female sailors to join the women’s trial.” explained Josh Junior

The sailors shortlisted and invited to trial are:

Women: (6 shortlisted)

  • Alexandra Maloney - 49er FX world champion and Olympic Silver medallist
  • Erica Dawson - Tokyo Olympics Nacra- 12th + campaigning for Paris 2024
  • Gemma Jones - Nacra 17 Rio Olympics 2016- 4th
  • Jo Aleh - Olympic Gold & Silver medals in 470 class
  • Molly Meech - 49er FX world champion and Olympic Silver medallist
  • Olivia Mackay - World Champion Red Bull Foiling Generation

Youth: (10 shortlisted)

Youth males

  • Jacob Pye - 2023 Int Moth National Champion, UK Open Champion
  • Josh Armit - Gold medal at the 2018 Youth Worlds in Laser class
  • Leo Takahashi - 49er Olympics 2020 Tokyo Olympics- 11th
  • Oscar Gunn - 2022 49er National Champion
  • Sam Street - 2022 International WASZP Games Champion
  • Seb Menzies - 420 World Champion / 2022 Moth National Champion

Youth females*

  • Annabelle Rennie-Younger - Current 470 & ILCA 6 National Champion
  • Celia Willison - Helm of the team currently 1st in the Women's WMRT
  • Serena Woodall - RNZYZ Match race youth program / 2023 69F campaign
  • Veerle ten Have - 2021 & 2022 Wind foiling National Champion

* invited to youth trial, and depending on their performance, may be invited to the women’s trial

In the next step of the selection process later this year a real emphasis has to be on team work explained Elise Beavis, “The short list of talent announced today is largely based off the performance of each sailor as an individual, whereas the team trials later in the year aims to discover the best combinations to create strongest Emirates Team New Zealand Women’s and Youth teams possible.”

Therefore, a major focus of the trials will be simulator sailing. Four sailors at a time will sail the AC40 in the simulator performing the same roles as they would on the water. Trimming with buttons and toggles rather than ropes is very different to what most of these sailors have experienced so those who learn quickly during the trial week will stand out. Communication and leadership skills will also become more apparent.

Other activities such as helping shore crew members with their daily tasks and reviewing sailing data will also give the short list sailors more insight into the team and its culture. This will also give the candidates a chance to demonstrate their attitude as potential representatives of Emirates Team New Zealand.

All members of the selector panel will observe the candidates during the week. This will provide significant insight for the selection panel to discuss when selecting the final teams of five to represent Emirates New Zealand in Barcelona 2024.

The Women’s & Youth team Selection Panel are:

  • Josh Junior – Emirates Team New Zealand Sailor & Program Lead
  • Elise Beavis - Emirates Team New Zealand Performance and simulator
  • Kevin Shoebridge - Emirates Team New Zealand COO
  • Gillian Williams - RNZYS Vice Commodore
  • Suzanne McFadden - Award winning Sports Journalist and Founder of LockerRoom dedicated to women’s sport journalism
  • Polly Powrie - Olympic 470 Gold & Silver Medallist
  • Ray Davies - Emirates Team New Zealand Coach

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