The first official training day in San Francisco has confirmed it. It is going to be vital to get off to a good start, if you want to do well in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, the America’s Cup for the under 24s, in which the French team Next World Energy is competing. It all gets underway on Sunday.
So far, it doesn’t really count, as the real competition only starts on Sunday, but there was a great show already on Tuesday in San Francisco Bay with 10-15 knots of wind and some brilliant sunshine. The ten AC45s with 60 young sailors on board representing eight different countries enjoyed themselves today with two 25-minute races and are looking forward to Wednesday, when the two official training races will take place (we should add that San Francisco is seven hours behind GMT).
For the young Frenchmen on Next World Energy, the team selected and trained by Energy Team, the first result was rather average (7th and 8th) but there were some positive elements too, as these disappointing results were really down to poor starts. In other words, things are becoming clearer. In fleet races with ten boats competing, you really need to find your way through (twice around the course with a start with the wind on the beam and with the side boundaries in place, just as in the AC45 World Series) and ensure you get off to a good start. That is why the French team has decided to focus on this question on Wednesday…
Antoine Mermod, Team Manager for Next World Energy: “We shouldn’t just look at the result, which was obviously disappointing, as these races are meant to allow the teams to train. We had two poor starts. In the first we were unlucky, as we were blocked between two boats, which crossed the line too soon; in the second, it was our own fault. We were on the wrong side of the line. In 25-minute races, a poor start means you can only start fighting for fifth place and the conditions are much more difficult than when you are ahead, as everyone is racing against you. In some ways, you learn more being in the pack than up at the front. There are a lot of positive elements. We have made a lot of progress on things that we were looking at today, in particular how to deal with the pre-start phase, downwind speed and gybes. We showed that we have what it takes to get back in the game and overtake other boats… but that we can also be caught. It was interesting to see this fight. We have gone through all that and analysed what we can still do to improve. The standard is very high, but it’s all very close and the starts are going to be vital. The Kiwis proved that: in the first race they got off to the best start and won the race finishing two minutes ahead of everyone else. In the second race, they had a poor start and ended up in eighth place. This just goes to show that anything is possible!”
Edouard-Marie Alikiagaléléi – Bowman and trimmer on Next World Energy: “It’s all down to a few things… there’s hardly anything between us! The start is crucial, as once you are in the pack, the fight is tough. The slightest mistake puts you out of the running. You really have to avoid having to change tack too often. In terms of sheer speed, I think it looks good for us. Its was great in any case, even if I would like to see a little more wind to sail faster. The fact that we are now in the official training sessions doesn’t really change that much, as everyone was giving it their all before anyway. There are things where we stand out, even if the standard is very high. In any case, it’s magical to be sailing here on these boats in this fantastic setting. During the first few days, we could hardly believe where we were. But now, we feel good as we get closer to real racing. The pressure is gradually building…”
The Next World Energy crew: Arthur Ponroy – Skipper; Antoine Lauriot-Prévost – Helmsman; Hubert Savatier – Tactician; Romain Bellet – Bowman / wing trimmer; Valentin Bellet – Trimmer; Paul Dagault – Main bowman; Edouard-Marie Alikiagaléléi – Bowman / trimmer
Reminder of the programme for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup:
From Sunday 1st to Wednesday 4th September, there will be two fleet races each day, as in the AC45 World Series. Reserved for under 24 year olds. Ten teams representing eight countries are competing, including the French on Next World Energy. There will be six youngsters aboard each boat.