The eyes of the sailing world were on the future stars today, as the NZL Sailing Team with Emirates Team New Zealand and American Youth Sailing Force came away tied for the overall lead at the Red Bull Youth America's Cup.
This 10-team, 8-country fleet race is delivering tight and competitive racing on San Francisco Bay at the halfway point of the regatta. In fact, four different countries have taken the checkered flag in the four fleet races so far - USA, New Zealand, Portugal and Sweden.
The top seven teams are separated by just 3 points with four races remaining over the next two days, with double points on the line in the final race.
"We're surprised to be in the lead, but happy to be there and looking forward to getting back out tomorrow,"
said NZL Sailing Team skipper Peter Burling, a silver medalist in the 49er class at the 2012 Olympics. "We didn't have a great start to the day but got an alright finish on the board in the second race to bring us back into it. I think it'll come down to the last day anyway, so we're trying to build as a group and looking forward to each day as it comes."
"The racing's really tight, so it's not too surprising that the standings are as close as they are,"
said American Youth Sailing Force skipper Mike Menninger, a three-time collegiate All-American from St. Mary's College of Maryland. "I think we're sailing well, but we're not too worried about the standings with two days to go. We have to treat each day separately."
The ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team from Portugal won the day's first race, Race 3 of the series. Helmsman Bernardo Freitas nailed the start, to the leeward of the pack, and the crew led at all six mark roundings enroute to a 28-second victory over Team Tilt from Switzerland.
"Today we pushed a little harder on the start. That was our bad point yesterday,"
said skipper and wing trimmer Antonio Mello. "The start was really good, we got to the reach mark first and then we tried to make the race as simple as possible. The fleet is very competitive."
Race 4 might've been the closest of the series. The Swedish Youth Challenge, Team Tilt and the NZL Sailing Team battled it out at the top of the fleet, with the Swedes and Swiss trading the lead at least four times. The Swedes led around the last windward mark and held on for a 5-second victory over the Swiss.
"There was a lot of up and down today,"
said Swedish skipper Charlie Ekberg. "We were second-to-last in first race and first in the second, so a lot of up and down. We pulled through nicely as a team in the second race. That was the gold standard for the day and what we will bring with us forward in the competition."
Red Bull Youth America's Cup - Provisional Standings
1. NZL Sailing Team with Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 2-4-7-3 - 28 points
2. American Youth Sailing Force (USA) 1-7-3-5 - 28 points
3. Team TILT (SUI) 8-5-2-2 - 27 points
4. Swedish Youth Challenge (SWE) 6-2-9-1 - 26 points
5. Full Metal Jacket Racing (NZL) 7-1-4-6 - 26 points
6. ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team (POR) 3-6-1-8 - 26 points
7. Next World Energy (FRA) 4-3-8-4 - 25 points
8. All In Racing (GER) 5-8-5-9 - 17 points
9. Objective Australia (AUS) RDG-10-6-10 - 9.3 points
10. USA45 Racing (USA) 9-9-10-7 - 9 points
(RDG = redress awarded by International Jury)
Fast facts about the Red Bull Youth America's Cup:
• The Red Bull Youth America's Cup runs from September 1-4 and is based out of the America's Cup Village at Marina Green.
• The format is fleet racing - 2 races per day, for an 8 race series, with racing beginning at 11:10am each day. The final race will carry double-points.
• The boats are AC45 catamarans powered by giant wing sails - the same boats used by the America's Cup teams in the AC World Series from 2011-2013.
• Teams are composed of six sailors, aged 19-24, who represent their country through a nationality rule.