Emirates Team New Zealand trials aspiring youth team candidates
Eight Emirates Team New Zealand youth team hopefuls embarked on a steep learning curve to get to grips with the technical systems and software required to sail an AC40
It has been a week under the spotlight for the next generation of potential Emirates Team New Zealand sailors at the team base in Auckland.
The group of eight Youth Emirates Team New Zealand hopefuls undertook a busy four day schedule embarking on a steep learning curve encompassing the technical systems and software required to sail the AC40 as well as race training and simulation on the Emirates Team New Zealand simulator.
The 8 trialling sailors at the base is an impressive line-up of world and national champions across a number of different classes.
Current 470 & ILCA 6 National Champion
RNZYZ Match race youth program / 2023 69F campaign
2023 Moth National Champion
Gold medal at the 2018 Youth Worlds in Laser class
49er Olympics 2020 Tokyo Olympics- 11th
2022 49er National Champion
Sam Robert Thomas Street
2022 International WASZP Games Champion
420 World Champion / 2022 Moth National Champion
Leading the trials and selection process is Emirates Team New Zealand’s Josh Junior now in his third America’s Cup campaign, having joined in 2016 as a young Olympic class sailor.
“I was lucky enough to join the team as a young sailor, similar to these guys, so I know what an amazing opportunity it is for these guys and girls, but also how daunting it can be,” said Junior. “So we are throwing them in the deep end a bit, but that is all part of the challenge.”
Elise Beavis (above), also helping with the selection process, explains what the week has been about.
“We've got our group of shortlisted sailors and they're running through a whole lot of different activities, such as sailing on the game, learning to use some of our in-house tools and their progression through the week has been incredible.”
The week wasn’t just about the individual, but assessing personalities and how they work collectively and the vitally important team environment
“They’ve got to be in sync with each other,” said Beavis. They need to communicate well, I think those are big areas where they’re learning heaps.”
For the sailors there was a lot to take in and learn during the week with plenty of insights on what it takes to sail at the top level of the America’s Cup.
“The AC40 is super impressive,” said 49er sailor Oscar Gunn. “The kind of technology that goes on behind them to make it work, the hydro guys and all the electric stuff is just next level.”
“And then to see it in real life and get an understanding on how flight control and trimming the main and cant and all those aspects work in such a complex boat. To have the opportunity to be able to have a go at it has been amazing.”
The technological side of the America’s cup is as important as the sailing skill, being able to transfer the technical to the practical on the water which was central to one of the challenges of the week.
“We did a data viewer challenge, so we all had to analyse a different manoeuvre,” explained Waiheke’s Serena Woodall.
“Then we had to present it back to the sailors themselves, which is a bit of a different concept, telling the sailors what they did well and what they did bad, but I think that's really cool. No matter what it's been an awesome week and I really enjoyed it.”
For Annabelle Rennie-Younger the lessons learned during the week will help in all areas of her sailing.
“It has been great to see all different parts of the team and we've learned so much just about sailing in general and communication. So whatever sort of sailing we do from here, like we've got gained so much just from four days with them. And it's just the beginning of like the sort of development of the youth and women coming through.”
The most time though was spent in the AC40 simulator where the combinations of sailors were learning to develop their accuracy, team work and communications all critical elements to sailing the AC40 optimally.
“We have been racing against each other, learning a lot about how the boat is set up, a lot of it how we’re supposed to sail it,” said Jacob Pye. “We're figuring out roles, settling into roles. This is amazing.”
The future is bright, and for Josh Junior and the selection panel have some very difficult decisions ahead whittling the group down to the eventual combination that will compete for the Youth America’s Cup in Barcelona in 2024.
“It has been a great week, the talent we have here to choose from is immense. The hunger and enthusiasm to learn and develop their sailing in all aspects is really motivating, so while it will be very difficult to make the final selection, we know we will have a very strong team on the start line of the Youth AC next year.”
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