In a nail biting finale, Britain's Land Rover BAR Academy managed to hold on to win the Red Bull Youth America's Cup in Bermuda
Britain’s youth America’s Cup sailors from the Land Rover BAR Academy have been crowned the 2017 Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Champions in Bermuda.
The British entry completed 12 races against 12 other nations on Bermuda’s Great Sound to take the title – six initial qualifying races and six in the finals – and finished the event with 50 points.
This was just two points ahead of second placed New Zealand Sailing Team (48 points), who were the defending champions, and eight points ahead of Switzerland’s Team Tilt (42 points).
The victory came down to a nail biting finale, and the final race of the event, but the team showed their determination by never giving up to come back from difficult situations on the race course.
Land Rover BAR team principal and skipper, Sir Ben Ainslie, said he couldn’t be prouder of the Land Rover BAR Academy.
“All their hard work, commitment and dedication over the past 18 months has really come together on the water here in Bermuda,” he said.
“Today was incredibly tense, it is a strong fleet, but I have been really impressed by the team’s constant on-board communication, how they kept their cool under pressure and really delivered on the boat handling during the tricky conditions,” added Sir Ben
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Land Rover BAR launched the Land Rover BAR Academy in January 2016, to support talented young British sailors, and create a structured pathway into the America’s Cup.
21-year-old Neil Hunter was an initial example of success, promoted from junior to senior team, becoming not only the youngest sailor to compete in the America’s Cup but the only sailor to compete in both competitions.
The British entry was also made up of some of the country’s top sailing talent, aged between 19-24 years old and led by skipper Rob Bunce.
23-year-old strategist, Annabel Vose, was the only female crew member to compete in the Youth Cup.
The team competed in the same AC45F foiling catamaran that Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR raced – and won – the 2015-16 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in.
Skipper Rob Bunce explained the difficulties for the team initially.
“The strategy was to do the same as yesterday and get off the start line clear. If we got three results in the top four we knew we could come away with a good result but unfortunately, we had an OCS and a penalty in the first start,” he said.
“I can’t put into words how much effort everyone put in on the race course. The amount of places we managed to gain in all the races is amazing. In the last race of the day, we knew to finish first overall we could only have one boat in between us and New Zealand and most of the way round there were two or three boats in between.”
“We saw at that last gate, Artemis Youth Racing (Sweden) and SVB Team Germany (Germany) had a battle on and one of them got hooked on the mark and the other suffered a penalty and that was our opportunity to get in front of Team Tilt (SUI) and hold out Spanish Impulse (ESP) to have the reach of our lives! To win here in Bermuda is amazing,” stated Bunce.
Strategist, Annabel Vose added: “Going into the final race we knew that New Zealand Sailing Team were our main opposition so we just wanted to finish within the top three, which we had been doing most the of the day and throughout the regatta.”
“We wanted to go in and have a simple start, keep it clean and race our own race. I don’t know if the pressure got to us a little bit but we didn’t pull off the start that we wanted,” continued the 23-year-old.
“Although we didn’t have our best today today, I think all the effort we’ve put in throughout the year just meant that we could pull together as a team and get the results that we needed to take the win and we are absolutely thrilled by the result!”
The Land Rover BAR Academy have little time to celebrate their victory and will now be heading to Maderia to compete in the Extreme Sailing Series Act 3 from 29 June – 2 July.
Land Rover BAR Academy are going into the final day of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup with a seven point advantage.
Their nearest rivals is the second placed Team Tilt from Switzerland and Team France Jeune, both joint on 21 points.
They started the day in fine form with two second placed finishes before ending in style with a dominating win in the third and final race of the day.
Commenting after racing yesterday (20 June), helmsman, Chris Taylor, said: “It’s been a great day for us, to get out there and put in a really solid performance. We worked hard on our starts and making sure we rounded the first mark in the top three.”
“You can’t win the event in the first day, but you can lose it, so we are happy to have placed three top scores. However, tomorrow’s another day and tonight we will debrief as a team and come out fighting hard to stay on top,” he added.
Six races are scheduled across the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup finals, with three further races – in breezier conditions forecast – from 1400 local time on 21 June.
Red Bull Youth America’s Cup quad:
Skipper: Rob Bunce
Helm: Chris Taylor
Strategist: Annabel Vose
Main Trimmer: Elliot Hanson
Jib Trimmer: Sam Batten
Bow: Neil Hunter
Substitute: Adam Kay
Land Rover BAR Academy are through to the final of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup.
They competed in Pool B during the Qualifier events on Monday and yesterday (12-13 June)
The squad, who won two of the matches on day one of the qualifier, came second overall in their pool, with the New Zealand Sailing Team coming first, Spanish Impulse Team coming third and Team BDA from Bermuda coming fourth.
The teams, all comprising of sailors aged 19-24, raced the foiling, wingsail AC45F used throughout the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series 2015 and 2016.
Yesterday, Land Rover BAR posted consecutive second place finishes in the second and third races of the day.
The team’s tactician, Annabel Vose, who is the only woman competing in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, said the crew were tested by the tricky, light west-south-west winds.
“We are incredibly happy to qualify for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Finals. As a strategist, it was hard to pick the big shifts but it was great to perform and get the results we needed on such a tricky race course,” she said.
Trimmer Sam Batten added: “It was important to use all of our experience to sail the best VMG course and keep speed around the whole race. The points were so tight, it just shows how close this fleet is and any mistake is punished. We have a few days now to go away and debrief these qualifiers and come back stronger.”
The finals – between eight teams – are due to be raced on 20-21 June.
Tomorrow and Friday (15-16 June), the six teams in Pool A will be competing for a place in the final.
Artemis Youth Racing(Sweden)
Team France Jeune (France)
Kaijin Team Japan (Japan)
Youth Vikings Denmark (Denmark)
Team Tilt (Switzerland)
SVB Team Germany (Germany)
With an average age of just 22, seven talented, aspiring America’s Cup sailors have been chosen to represent Great Britain this summer.
The team, which includes Land Rover BAR’s first female sailor Annabel Vose, will be competing against 11 other national youth teams in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup (RBYAC).
It will be taking place in Bermuda during the 35th America’s Cup.
Inspired by four time Olympic gold medallist and 34th America’s Cup winner, Ben Ainslie, the mission of the Land Rover BAR Academy is to find and support talented young British sailors into professional sailing and the America’s Cup.
The programme is run by Land Rover BAR, and supported by Land Rover, Castrol, Aberdeen Asset Management and Henri Lloyd.
The goal is to create a career pathway for British sailors into the America’s Cup, and build a British team that can win the RBYAC.
The Land Rover BAR Academy have already competed in the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™, coming fifth in the professional stadium racing series, supported and mentored by the Land Rover BAR Senior Sailing team.
They recently placed 2nd in the Act 2 of the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series™ in Qingdao, China.
One remarkable story is the progress of Neil Hunter who – after just ten months with the Land Rover BAR Academy – was promoted onto the senior sailing team.
Hunter has now been in Bermuda for the last five months, training with the team ahead of the America’s Cup.
The selected squad for Bermuda is Rob Bunce (skipper), Chris Taylor, Annabel Vose, Elliot Hansen, Sam Batten, Adam Kay and Neil Hunter.
Skipper Rob Bunce commented: “We’ve got a talented group of sailors from a variety of backgrounds and I think we’ve done a really good job of building our relationships and sailing skills together over the last year.”
The squad recently completed a seven-day training camp in Bermuda, which saw the return of Neil Hunter to the team.
The training camp was the perfect learning curve for the Land Rover BAR Academy, providing their first sail of the AC45F and the opportunity to immerse themselves with the senior squad and see first-hand the hard work, commitment and skill it takes to become a full-time America’s Cup sailor.
Hunter said that being part of the senior team in Bermuda was “an awesome learning experience” and had been “invaluable to the progression of my sailing career”.
“Seeing the work that goes on behind the scenes has really opened my eyes up to the world that is the America’s Cup. I hope to put that to good use for the Land Rover BAR Academy,” he added.
The teams, all comprising of sailors aged 19-24, will race the foiling, wingsail AC45F used throughout the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series 2015 and 2016.
The Land Rover BAR Academy will compete in Pool B during the Qualifier events over the two-day race period on 12-13 June.
The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Final Series will take place on 20-21 June.