Next generation of America's Cup sailors set for racing 

click to enlarge The Youth America's Cup will feature smaller AC45 boats, but a full field of 10 teams. - GILLES MARTIN-RAGET/ACEA
  • GILLES MARTIN-RAGET/acea
  • The Youth America's Cup will feature smaller AC45 boats, but a full field of 10 teams.

With the world's best sailors on a break in between the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals and the America's Cup Finals, the focus on San Francisco Bay now turns to the next generation, with the first edition of the Red Bull Youth America's Cup beginning Saturday.

The junior circuit features smaller boats — 45-foot catamarans as opposed to the AC72s in the main event — and, for most of the teams, smaller budgets. While five of the 10 teams in the event are attached to teams that have participated in the America's Cup World Series over the past year, the rest have had to fight their way through qualifiers and a selection series before making the final cut.

Mike Menninger, skipper of American Youth Sailing Force, said the financing of the team has provided a challenge equal to the work they put in on the water as his team prepares to represent San Francisco in the event.

"We raise money to sail on the water, and it's a thing that as sailors managing this campaign, it's hard to balance," he said. "It takes a lot to get here and get to the starting line, but at the same time we have to remember that we came here to sail and we have to put forth the time and effort to be the best sailors on the water."

Recent events have not made the task any easier for the German representative, All In Racing, which lost its sponsorship after the accident that claimed the life of Artemis Racing team member Andrew "Bart" Simpson in May.

After skipper Philipp Buhl broke that disappointing news to his team, they decided to go out and raise money on their own rather than miss the chance to compete.

For many young sailors, this is the first — and possibly only — foray into the international spotlight in the sailing world, a chance All In Racing didn't want to miss.

"Because we were all motivated like this," Buhl said. "That this [is] our only chance and maybe the biggest chance we'll get, we did it."

The event begins with a time trial Saturday, followed by four days of two fleet races each, with the final race on Wednesday worth double points.

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