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America's Cup: Emirates Youth Team hopefuls spend a week on trial for AC37 Youth team

by Emirates Team NZ and 25 Nov 2023 18:14 PST 26 November 2023
Emirates Team New Zealand Youth America's Cup team trials - November 2023 © James Somerset / Emirates Team New Zealand

The next generation of potential Emirates Team New Zealand sailors, have spent a week under the spotlight at the team base in Auckland, as part of the selection process for the 2024 Youth America's Cup team.

The squad of eight Youth Emirates Team New Zealand hopefuls undertook a busy four day schedule embarking on a steep learning curve encompassing the technical systems and software required to sail the AC40 as well as race training and simulation on the Emirates Team New Zealand simulator.

The eight trialling sailors at the base is an impressive line-up of world and national champions across a number of different classes. Under the NZ system, female sailors can be selected for both the Womens and Youth America's Cup teams.

The Youth and Womens America's Cups will be sailed in AC40 One Design foiling monohulls, during the 2024 America's Cup in Barcelona.

  • Annabelle Rennie-Younger Current 470 & ILCA 6 National Champion
  • Serena Woodall RNZYZ Match race youth program / 2023 69F campaign
  • Jacob Pye 2023 Moth National Champion
  • Joshua 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

Leading the trials and selection process is Emirates Team New Zealand’s Josh Junior now in his 3rd America’s Cup campaign, having joined in 2016 as a young Olympic class sailor.

“I was lucky enough to join the team as a young sailor, similar to these guys, so I know what an amazing opportunity it is for these guys and girls, but also how daunting it can be. So we are throwing them in the deep end a bit, but that is all part of the challenge,” said Junior.

Elise Beavis, also helping with the selection process explains what the week has been about.

“We've got our group of shortlisted sailors and they're running through a whole lot of different activities, such as sailing on the game, learning to use some of our in-house tools and their progression through the week has been incredible.”

The week wasn’t just about the individual, but assessing personalities and how they work collectively and the vitally important team environment

“They’ve got to be in sync with each other. They need to communicate well, I think those are big areas where they’re learning heaps.” said Elise Beavis

For the sailors there was a lot to take in and learn during the week with plenty of insights on what it takes to sail at the top level of the America’s Cup.

“The AC40 is super impressive. The kind of technology that goes on behind them to make it work, the hydro guys and all the electric stuff is just next level,” said 49er sailor Oscar Gunn

“And then to see it in real life and get an understanding on how flight control and trimming the main and cant and all those aspects work in such a complex boat. To have the opportunity to be able to have a go at it has been amazing.”

The technological side of the America’s cup is as important as the sailing skill, being able to transfer the technical to the practical on the water which was central to one of the challenges of the week.

“We did a data viewer challenge, so we all had to analyse a different manoeuvre,” explained Waiheke’s Serena Woodall.

“Then we had to present it back to the sailors themselves, which is a bit of a different concept , telling the sailors what they did well and what they did bad, but I think that's really cool. No matter what it's been an awesome week and I really enjoyed it.”

For Annabelle Rennie-Younger the lessons learned during the week will help in all areas of her sailing, “It has been great to see all different parts of the team and we've learned so much just about sailing in general and communication. So whatever sort of sailing we do from here, like we've got gained so much just from four days with them. And it's just the beginning of like the sort of development of the youth and women coming through.”

The most time though was spent in the AC40 simulator where the combinations of sailors were learning to develop their accuracy, team work and communications all critical elements to sailing the AC40 optimally.

“We have been racing against each other, learning a lot about how the boat is set up, a lot of it how, we’re supposed to sail it. We're figuring out roles, settling into roles,” said Jacob Pye. “This is amazing.”

The future is bright, and for Josh Junior and the selection panel have some very difficult decisions ahead whittling the group down to the eventual combination that will compete for the Youth America’s Cup in Barcelona in 2024.

“It has been a great week, the talent we have here to choose from is immense. The hunger and enthusiasm to learn and develop their sailing in all aspects is really motivating, so while it will be very difficult to make the final selection, we know we will have a very strong team on the start line of the Youth AC next year.”

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