Land Rover BAR takes Red Bull Youth America’s Cup title
Published: Thursday, 22 June 2017
Great Britain’s Land Rover BAR Academy have been crowned Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Champions, following the final day of racing on Bermuda’s Great Sound. New Zealand and Switzerland rounded out the podium.
(Photos: Harry KH, Gilles Martin Raget - Land Rover BAR)
Land Rover BAR Team Principal and Skipper, Ben Ainslie, on the team's success: "We could not be prouder of the Land Rover BAR Academy winning the Red Bull Youth America's Cup. All their hard work, commitment and dedication over the past 18 months has really come together on the water here in Bermuda. Today was incredibly tense, it is a strong fleet, but I have been really impressed by the team's constant onboard communication, how they kept their cool under pressure and really delivered on the boat handling during the tricky conditions."
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. 22-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 is 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.
Having headed into the climactic day of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in fifth place overall, defending champions NZL Sailing Team of New Zealand mounted a monumental comeback. The Kiwis looked to have successfully retained their crown after claiming a set of race results on the day with three consecutive victories, while the leaders after Day One, Land Rover BAR Academy, had endured a difficult afternoon and were still on the course with the rest of the field, languishing in fifth place.
However, with New Zealanders set to celebrate onboard their boat, late drama conspired against the reigning champions. Land Rover BAR Academy clawed their way up to second on the final leg, including passing SVB Team Germany who hit the mark, to land the trophy. The British eventual second place for the race proved enough to see them finish on 50 points, just two ahead of NZL Sailing Team in the final standings.
Rob Bunce, skipper of Land Rover BAR Academy, reflected on the dramatic final race: “We had some slightly bleak thoughts for a little while watching on in that final race. We were just praying for an opportunity from somewhere and then we saw the drama that was unfolding in front of us, that was our opportunity. It feels fantastic to be able to bring the trophy home with us.”
Bunce also revealed that one very important spectator, Land Rover BAR Team Principal Sir Ben Ainslie, was on hand to pass on his congratulations on the water after the final race.
Developed by Sport Directors and Olympic sailing legends Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher, the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup was introduced in 2013 as a launching pad to a professional career for the world’s best young sailing talent aged 18-24. The competition’s thrilling final day of action saw Switzerland's Team Tilt join Land Rover BAR Academy and NZL Sailing Team on the podium in third place overall.
“I’d just like to offer my personal congratulations to the British youth team for winning the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup today. This is a fantastic achievement,” said Jimmy Spithill, the two-time America’s Cup-winning skipper and helmsman of ORACLE TEAM USA, which is vying in this week’s America’s Cup Match racing.
Of the remaining teams contesting the final, Sweden’s Artemis Youth Racing finished fourth, followed by Team France Jeune, Spanish Impulse by IBEROSTAR and SVB Team Germany. Local heroes TeamBDA, who had exceeded all expectations by reaching the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Final, finished their journey in eighth place, having enjoyed momentous highlights including a victory in the Final’s opening race.
Sport Director Hagara noted that nine members of the inaugural Red Bull Youth America’s Cup are now on senior America’s Cup teams, including Peter Burling, the helmsman of the winning boat in that 2013 youth regatta, who now helms Emirates Team New Zealand.
Hagara stated: “Look for the sailors you’ve seen here in this 2017 edition of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup to be in the next America’s Cup four years from now. These young talents are the superstars of the future, and after seeing the level of skill and competitiveness they’ve shown here in Bermuda, there’s no doubt they’re going to take the sport to the next level.”
Red Bull Youth America's Cup overall results:
Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR), 50 points
NZL Sailing Team (NZL), 48 points
Team Tilt (SUI), 42 points
Artemis Youth Racing (SWE), 37 points
Team France Jeune (FRA), 35 points
Spanish Impulse Team (ESP), 34 points
SVB Team Germany (GER), 33 points
Team BDA (BDA), 33 points