The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, the America’s Cup for the under 24s got underway today. On Sunday, the first races took place in San Francisco Bay. The ten crews representing eight countries put on a great show… and the French were very impressive with their ability to bounce back and with their consistency, always being up there at the front. With a fourth place before making it to the podium (3rd), the young sailors on Next World Energy end up in second place in the overall rankings. They finish between the two New Zealand AC45s ahead of the Swedes, Americans, Portuguese and Swiss. A very encouraging start!
Fleet Race 1: Next World Energy just off the podium
Excellent start for the Americans on USA 1! The mists we have come to expect in San Francisco Bay were present for the first race in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, which was raced in 13 knots of wind from the WSW. The young French team on Next World Energy skippered by Arthur Ponroy (skipper) and Antoine Lauriot-Prévost (helmsman) appeared to be fairly well placed at the end of the line at the start, although in air that was disturbed by their closest competitors, they were in a rather tricky situation at the end of the first reaching leg: 9th. However, Next World Energy kept it all together and gradually crawled their way back. Moving up one place after another at each mark, the crew on the French AC45 seemed to be settling in nicely. For a long time they were battling it out for 5th or 6th place… right up until the 5th gate when Next World Energy chose to go for the right-hand buoy unlike the Swedes and the Germans. A great idea, as after 25 minutes of racing, the young French team finished in a fine fourth place… ahead of the Swedish and German boats. A great result!
The top five in Race 1:
1/American Youth Sailing Force (USA) ; 2/NZL Sailing with ETNZ (NZL) ; 3/ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team (POR) ; 4/Next World Energy (FRA) ; 5/Swedish Youth Challenge (SWE)
Fleet Race2: Next World Energy on the podium
The wind increased to 19 knots, but that didn’t upset the Kiwis. The two New Zealand boats were up at the front from the start along with the Swedes and the Americans on USA1. It was tougher for the Portuguese and the French, who found themselves at the rear of the fleet. But once again, the French youngsters on Next World Energy kept their cool and avoided making any mistakes… which was not the case for everyone! At least three crews found themselves in difficulty with their code zero at the end of the downwind leg. They lost a lot of time and not able to furl it correctly had problems setting off upwind. That was not the case for the French. “If we don’t make any mistakes during the manoeuvres and if we don’t get a penalty, we should make it to the first half of the fleet,” the helmsman Antoine Lauriot-Prévost said before the race. That is exactly what happened in this second race with the French showing their consistency… in fourth place with two legs to go to the finish. That’s when luck intervened for the lads on Next World Energy: NZL Sailing with ETNZ, the first Kiwi boat went beyond the boundaries and was rightly penalized. They lost two spots with this mistake, and the Swedes (2nd) and the French in third place took advantage of that, making it to the podium for the first time and in so doing, ending up in second place overall at the end of this first day of racing. Well done, lads!
1/Full Metal Jacket Racing (NZL) ; 2/Swedish Youth Challenge (SUE) ; 3/Next World Energy (FRA) ; 4/NZL Sailing with ETNZ (NZL) ; 5/Team Tilt (SUI).
Antoine Mermod, team manager for Next World Energy : “This was a great first day, so we’re really pleased. We didn’t get off to the best of starts, but then during the races, the lads did a great job. Particularly in the downwind legs, where they were quick after choosing the right options. Some boats had problems or messed up their manoeuvres… but we didn’t. The lads didn’t make any mistakes and managed to avoid any technical problems. That is very important, and is the main pre-requisite, if you want to do well in this Red Bull Youth America’s Cup.”
Antoine Lauriot-Prévost, helmsman on the Next World Energy AC45: “The first analysis after these two races is that the races are very close right up to the finish. You can move up and won the rankings very quickly with a lot of changes in the fleet during the races. You have to keep believing, even if you are poorly placed at the start and then sail cleanly. Today, we didn’t have the best of starts, but what is positive is that after that we managed to move back up through the fleet.”
Overall rankings after two races
1 NZL Sailing with ETNZ (NZL) 16
2 Next World Energy (FRA) 15
3 Full Metal Jacket Racing (NZL) 14
4 Swedish Youth Challenge (SWE)14
5 American Youth Sailing Force (USA) 14
6 ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team (POR) 13
7 Team Tilt (SUI) 9
8 All In Racing (GER) 9
9 USA45 Racing (USA)4
10 Objective Australia (AUS) 2