The long months of preparation are almost at an end as seven of Britain's most talented and ambitious young sailors take on the world. The hand-picked team, including Neil Hunter, 22 year old from Scotland, who raced with Ben Ainslie in Land Rover BAR's America's Cup bid, will represent Britain in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup (RBYAC) starting on Monday 12th June on Bermuda's Great Sound.
They will step out onto the main stage – the same course used for the America's Cup racing currently underway in Bermuda – for two days of racing against five other youth teams, all comprising of sailors aged 19-24. The top four teams will go forward to the finals, scheduled right before the last weekend of racing for the 35th America's Cup.
The teams will race the foiling, wingsail AC45F used throughout the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series 2015 and 2016, and the Land Rover BAR Academy have looked strong in the practice racing so far. They continue to benefit from the mentorship and experience of the senior team, who completed their campaign for the 35th America's Cup on Thursday.
Inspired by four time Olympic gold medallist and 34th America's Cup winner, Ben Ainslie, the mission of the Land Rover BAR Academy is to find and support talented young British sailors. It's run by America's Cup Challenger Land Rover BAR, and supported by Land Rover.
The goal is to create a career pathway for British sailors into the America's Cup, and build a British team to win the RBYAC. The Land Rover BAR Academy have already competed in the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™, coming fifth in the professional stadium racing series, supported and mentored by the Land Rover BAR Senior Sailing team.
The spectacular sailing on Bermuda's Great Sound promises to be a wonderful showcase for these talented young sailors and a great inspiration to those that want to follow them.
Rob Bunce, Land Rover BAR Academy Skipper: "We're looking forward to getting on the start line, it's going to be really exciting racing. It will be really cool on that first real race with all those boats - it's going to be epic!
"At the moment we are expecting the conditions to be a mixture of light and strong winds. We enjoy the breeze more than the light winds, but the conditions in Bermuda change so quickly, anything could happen.
"The Red Bull Youth America's Cup differs to the Extreme Sailing Series in that the course will be bigger, the boats are bigger and faster and a bit harder to sail I think there will be more of a boat handling focus and that's an area that we pride ourselves on. It's also going to be important to get off the start line well, just like the ESS."
Annabel Vose, Strategist: "It's a really cool opportunity to race on the same race course as the America's Cup and be a part of that atmosphere. It's going be really exciting having eight boats on the race course, which is more than any America's Cup World Series event so it's going to be really intense and a great spectacle as we hopefully reach some high speeds. It's definitely a new challenge for all of us; no-one has raced in these boats before so we're looking forward to getting stuck in on Monday."
Youth America's Cup Squad:
Skipper, Rob Bunce - Southampton
Helm, Chris Taylor - Buckinghamshire
Strategist, Annabel Vose - Southampton
Main Trimmer, Elliot Hanson - Macclesfield
Jib Trimmer, Sam Batten - Southampton
Jib Trimmer / Float, Adam Kay - Southampton
Bow, Neil Hunter - Isle of Arran, Scotland
Dates for the diary:
May 29th – June 3rd 2017: Pool A team training
June 5th – June 10th : Pool B team training
June 12th – June 13th : Qualifier 1 racing *
June 15th - June 16th : Qualifier 2 racing *
June 20th – June 21st : Red Bull Youth America's Cup Final Series *
* all race events include a third day of scheduled racing, held in reserve should any issues prevent racing being completed on scheduled dates