• "I Have A Dream"

    "I Have A Dream"

    That's the thoughts and hopes of the 76 youth sailors involved in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup. There's a lot lot riding on this, or not. To quote David Liebenberg in a recent Sailing World interview:

    The regatta is portraying as this "stepping-stoneĒ into the Americaís Cup, and itís not that easy. Itís a good step, but itís only one step in a long series to get to where any professional sailor wants to be: whether thatís winning the Americaís Cup, doing a Volvo or going to the Olympics. No one knows how to perceive this regatta because itís never happened before, and Iíve sort of gone back and forth about it in my mind saying, ďThis is a huge deal,Ē and ďThis doesnít mean anything.Ē And only time will tell, how itís actually perceived. But, it being probably the most exciting thing to happen in this Americaís Cup will hopefully help it become important in people's minds.

    A FULL gallery of select images available HERE

    If one thing is for sure, The Red Bull Youth America's Cup has already mimicked it's bigger, more established contests, the AC, Volvo and Olympics. Yes there has been international competition, between Nations, and youth striving to achieve the highest level in there field. There has also been politics, infighting, member swapping, injuries, parties, love, hate, joy, frustration, jubilance, anger and all emotions in between. Toss in a late night roll over accident which could have killed 3 team members, and that's just on one team.

    It's an uphill row to hoe, and a long one at that. Most of the teams formed some 18 to 19 months ago. Some came equipped via an already established sailing organization with a sturdy foundation and funding behind it. Other teams have been more self reliant and have struggled with making ends meet. Taking time off from paying jobs, from school, from the creature comforts of home for the chance to compete on the highest level on million dollar state of the art catamarans on the legendary San Francisco Bay.

    When most teams signed up for the event, it was easy to overlook the vast logistics and financial demands this event required. The initial $25,000.00 bond just to enter was too big of a number for numerous teams to swallow. And though sponsored by Red Bull, the entry form clearly states:

    16.1 Unless otherwise provided in this document, all a teamís costs and expenses for competing shall be their sole and exclusive responsibility.

    IF you were lucky enough to prove your worth, and qualify to compete you had another financial hurdle to stradle:

    19.1 All teams shall have during the Regatta and any associated event medical insurance providing for both illness and injury personal medical cover for a minimum of USD $1,000,000.00 including coverage for participation in the Regatta and for medical evacuation to their country of origin. Evidence of cover satisfactory to ACEA will be required in respect of each crewmember of a team prior to the commencement of the Regatta or any associated event.

    In addition you have to assume your own risks and personal insurance:

    20.1 Each team is required to be fully insured in respect of all third party liabilities including all liabilities to their crew, employees and contractors. This may include compulsory participation in a common insurance policy at an equal cost to all teams. ACEA will provide further information as it becomes available.

    21.1 Each team by entering the regatta acknowledges and agrees the AC45 yacht is an
    experimental vessel and is of an extreme design and propulsion. Use of an AC45 yacht
    involves an inherent high risk of damage and/or personal injury. The level of risk is
    significantly accentuated by use of an AC45 yacht competitively. Each team agrees to
    assume all risk and liability for damage and/or injury arising from participation in the Regatta and any other use of an AC45 or other vessel in relation to the Regatta. ACRM, ACEA, and Red Bull and their respective directors, officers, employees and contractors shall not be liable for any injury, damage, or loss suffered or incurred by teams, their crew, employees, officers or other associated persons by direct or indirect entry into the regatta participation in the regatta, or any other use by an AC45 yacht or any other vessel.

    21.2 The Regatta Director may at his sole discretion terminate an entry at any time . Once an entry is terminated, that team shall take no further part in any official testing, training, practice or the Regatta.
    21.3 Each team and each crew member shall sign before boarding an AC45 yacht or any other vessel during the regatta a waiver of liability in such form as may be required by ACRM and notified to the teams.

    Okay, by now you get the picture, you have a bond to enter, your insurance for team, individual insurance and then in the dead of winter, IF you were lucky enough to be selected to race, you get this notification:

    Re: Red Bull Youth America's Cup Entry Fees
    The entry fee of $35,000.00 is payable by each competitor as follows:
    1. Each competitor entered by an Americaís Cup World Series team not
    having to participate in the February Selection Series shall pay the sum of
    USD $15,000.00 on or before January 5, 2013 to secure a place in the
    RBYAC, and the balance of the entry fee by March 31, 2013;
    2. All other competitors selected to participate in the RBYAC shall pay the
    remaining balance of the entry fee on or before March 31, 2013.
    Entry fees are not refundable, except the entry fee will be refunded in respect of
    a crew not accepted by the Regatta Director to compete in the RBYAC.

    So there you have it, some real world numbers a team needed to come up with, just to get to play. If those stipulations were not enough, access to sailing on the AC 45's themselves was deeply restricted, and to keep things as fair as possible all 10 teams would receive their "yachts" on the same date, August 8th, undergo several days of training, lectures and procedural instructions, before actually sailing their own AC 45's!

    This past 2 weeks the teams all got down to the fun part. Sailing the AC 45's. It started out gingerly with teams out working on maneuvers, team work, cadence and getting to know SF Bay. Some teams have a distinct advantage, having spent more time on SF Bay, understanding it's nuances, currents, breeze variations. But the winged AC 45 is vastly different than it softer sailed counterparts, so until you have spent the time "Winging It" the home field advantage may not be that great.

    In the 3 days of staged races on the City Front race course, a total of 6 races, the cream appears to be rising. The Antipodeans of NZL and Australia have had consistent success, the home teams of AYSF and USA 45 sporadic success and the other 5 teams looking like top contenders one race and not so much the next. This Sunday begins the 4 day 8 race regatta. All starts will be off the Marina Green with the finish right off the spit, just south of the GGYC. All start times are 11:10 AM, and there will be 2 races per day. The scoring is high points, with a 1st netting 10 points and a 10th earning one. Wednesday's Race 8 will be a double counter, with 20 points
    awarded for 1st and 2 points for a 10th.

    Unlike the Louis Vuitton and the AC, all events will be at the Marina Villages and the
    10 team boats shall be moored there overnight as well.

    We shall soon see what dreams are made of...