The Bermuda Red Bull Youth America’s Cup hopefuls will take the first step towards sailing in the wing-sail foiling AC45F catamaran this week.
The 40 athletes involved in an ongoing weeklong training camp at Oracle Team USA’s base in Dockyard will sail on Thursday for the first time since team tryouts started.
The group will be split into two, with candidates with previous sailing experience to train in the Nacra SL 16 catamaran and one-design Viper 640 and J/80 sailboats out of the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club.
Those from non-sailing backgrounds will train in the Hobie Cat catamaran out of the America’s Cup Endeavour Community Sailing Programme in the East End.
“We have two potential coaches coming in to do some evaluations on them and so this will be the first step in the sailor evaluation,” Katrina Williams, the Bermuda Red Bull Youth America’s Cup sailing director, said.
Once the team is further reduced, the remaining candidates will be introduced to foiling class boats early next year. Among the introductory foiling classes being considered by team management is the single-handed Waszp dinghy, which is scheduled to go into production by the new year.
“We would like to have them foiling by the summer,” Williams said. “We will do a very intensive summer programme and then go on from there.”
Making the transition from conventional sail boats to foiling versions will be a daunting task for team hopefuls.
“I think the learning curve is going to be very steep and I really don’t know if they have grasped how steep it’s going to be yet,” Williams said. “They are going to be challenged every day in new and different ways.”
The ongoing training camp will help team selectors determine which candidates advance to the next phase of the selection process.
The exercise comprises a series of physical, mental and leadership tests as well as briefings on anti-doping regulations, water safety and substance abuse.
The selection committee hopes to identify a squad of 18 who, with intensive training and coaching, will be equipped to compete with the world’s best young sailors in foiling high performance catamarans.
The racing team will consist of six squad members, with others supporting as training partners and a shore team.
Team Bermuda will face other youth teams from around the world in June 2017.
“We have a lot of goals and a laundry list of things we want to get done with the candidates and they are taking everything in stride so far,” Williams said. “I’m very excited for them and looking forward to seeing how they progress over the next year and a half.”
This story appeared in The Royal Gazette on December 29th, 2015.