During the first week of September, in between the Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup finals, the city of San Francisco will be hosting the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, for teams with members under 24 years old. The AC45 of France’s Next World Energy team will be taking part in this high-level competition. In order to prep the young competitors who will represent France, a sports partnership has been signed between Next World Energy and the French Sailing Federation.
The French challenger ENERGY TEAM was to introduce a youth crew at the San Francisco competition. “Our objective is to take part in the America’s Cup in four years, so it makes sense for us to prepare for the future,” explains Antonie Mermod, Technical Director of Energy Team. With the support of Next World Group, a European firm based in San Francisco, the team put in place a recruitment plan, and together with FFVoile began selecting the team members at the end of 2012. Up until the final selection is made for the San Francisco race (only six sailors and one alternate will be selected to be on board of the AC45) the young individuals being considered are training on various boats. In Naples on the AC45, sponsored by the Swiss watchmaker Corum, on an Open 7.50 at the Spi Ouest in France, and more recently at the Belle-Ile race, as well as at the Trofeo Pirelli in Portofino on Extreme40.
The recent partnership that was signed with the French Sailing Federation gives these young sailors a serious “power boost.” FFVoile’s commitment focuses on two aspects: first, they played a big role in the selection of the young team, “which is essential for FFVoile since they are usually more focused on youth and training, while we are obviously more used to working with professional sailors,” says Antoine Mermod.
According to Jacques Cathelineau, National Technical Director, the selection of this young team is a real success. “At the end of 2012, we worked with the French Youth Team and executives of the Federation (Marc Bouet, Franck Citeau) on two selection sessions in multihull at La Grande Motte. The athletes came from various backgrounds which makes it very interesting. We hope that this experience will be highly beneficial for them and their future careers.”
In addition, FFVoile is providing logistical and technical support during three intensive training sessions. The first one is currently taking place in Lorient from May 13-24, on an Extreme 40 catamaran, the closest to an AC45 to date. Antoine Mermod states that “The Federation not only offers its boats and training materials, but more importantly their coaches, physical trainers and well-rounded techniques. For example, we are working with Marc Bouet (the French reference in Match-Race) to prepare and conduct the training sessions. With Energy Team we have experience on the AC45 and AC World Series, and the Federation has experience training very skilled young sailors, at high level of performance and in various areas. This is a collaboration that can only be beneficial. Our experiences are complementary and Next World Energy’s young sailors should be able to get the most of it.”
It is also important to note that French National Sailing School’s (ENV) expertise together with FFVoile’s experience will be put to use in training the team. Two executives from the School will participate during these sessions. Stéphane Krause will be responsible for the physical preparation of the crew, which is particularly important as the AC45 is deemed to be extremely physical. Yves Clouet will bring his Multihull expertise to complement Marc Bouet’s contributions as coach & coordinator for FFVoile.
The next three months are going to be very intense for these young sailors as they immerse into the various aspects of the sailing world (the light, environment, competition, and the race at large), and amongst intense weather, they will also sail other boats and take part in different training sessions. The goal is to be the best prepared to represent France and compete at the highest level with the other nine youth teams from around the world. They will seek “their” America’s Cup, in the heart of the mythical San Francisco Bay, admired by sailors around the world.
Jean-Pierre Champion, President of the French Sailing Federation: “This partnership between the French Sailing Federation, the Energy Team and French Youth Team will enable this young and motivated team to benefit from preparation and coaching that meets the height of their ambitions. The French Sailing Federation fully meets its selection and training role. Next World Group’s recent commitment to this team provides an opportunity for the young crew to represent France in optimal conditions during the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. “