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Unicredit Youth and Puig Women’s America’s Cup update

The UniCredit Youth and Puig Women’s America’s Cup teams are all deep into their simulator training whilst keeping sharp on the water all around the world in a variety of foiling classes from International Moths and Waszps to 69Fs and GC32 craft. Behind closed doors, competition on the simulators has become white hot with teams challenging each other remotely to races whilst in Badalona, Athena Pathway, NYYC American Magic and the Swedish Challenge have moved onsite into their new shed base and apron – sharing knowledge, supporting and upskilling together. It’s a busy time and the clock is ticking down now to September when the finest Youth & Women’s sailors on the planet will go for glory in the glare of the most intense media spotlight. The next generation of America’s Cup stars are coming through – Fast.

Sail Team BCN

The Sitges-based Sail Team BCN announced their first five signings for the Puig Women’s America’s Cup with Paula Barceló Martín, Támara Echegoyen, Neus Ballester, Silvia Mas & Maria Cantero Izquierdo all making the team. The Spanish have serious Olympic talent with Támara and Silvia whilst throughout the team they have multiple World, European and National titles.

Guillermo Altadill, Team Principal of Sail Team BCN, explained how Sail Team BCN came about. “Our idea was to stay in Sitges for a short time before going to Barcelona, but now we have to stay here and not leave. We feel at home, and we will go to Barcelona just to compete,” commented Altadill, who sent a message of encouragement to his sailors. “They are the real protagonists. You are starting a new page in the Copa América and apart from the quality as sailors, you have the privilege of being in one of the most important sporting competitions in the world.”

Sail Team BCN will announce their Youth team members in mid-April and training is ongoing with the team’s GC32 that can be seen off Sitges most day.

DutchSail Team

Coaches Annemieke Bes and Pieter-Jan Postma have been busy upskilling the talented DutchSail Team’s twelve sailors through March with plenty of Simulator training and online match-races being held between the Dutch and American Magic, Canada and the Australian teams. In March the team also announced a new sponsor in the form of JAJO Construction Group whose CEO Ivo van der Mark officially christened the simulator during a presentation at Van der Zwan in Scheveningen.

The UniCredit Youth America’s Cup Team select includes Bart Lambriex, Bjarne Bouwer, Paul Hameeteman, Aleksandr Moliakov, Eliott Savelon, and Wiebrand de Vos. While the Puig Women’s America’s Cup Team includes Odile van Aanholt, Annette Duetz, Maxime Jonker, Arianne van de Loosdrecht, Ismene Usman, and Willemijn Offerman.

Team Canada

The Canadian Youth and Women’s Teams have been balancing their time between the AC40 Simulator and foiling in Moths. This approach aims to fine-tune foiling skills and develop strategies that the sailors can transfer to the AC40 monohull they’ll be racing in both the Youth and Women’s America’s Cup regattas in 2024. Following their summer training on Lake Garda—which included competing in the Persico 69F at the inaugural Women’s 69F Gold Cup—the focus of Team Canada’s America’s Cup training program has moved to Spain. As the countdown to the regatta gains momentum, the Canadian team has set up base in Barcelona. Final team selection has yet to be announced on the team’s website and the decision will be taken between Isabella Bertold who is leading the Puig Women’s America’s Cup team and Andrew Wood leading the UniCredit Youth America’s Cup Team with input from the highly experienced Jim Turner.

Team Germany

Jochen Schümann, the legend of German sailing with three Olympic gold medals, nine medals at world championships and two America’s Cup victories has joined Team Germany to act as a ‘supporter, sponsor and mentor’. “My goal is that the German Youth and Women’s AC participation in 2024 does not remain a one-off experience. Such big challenges require long-term and sustained effort and investment to be not just a participant, but a real competitor with a chance of winning.”

Leading the UniCredit Youth America’s Cup Team is foiling expert Paul Farien and has talent to burn in the form of Alica Stuhlemmer, who together with Paul Kohlhoff won the bronze medal in the foiling Nacra 17 at the 2020 Olympic Games in 2021, and Julian Hofmann and Hannah Andersohn, ILCA sailors from the German Sailing Team.

The German team for the Puig Women’s America’s Cup is led by Carolina Werner and includes Tina Lutz, silver medallist in the 49erFX at the 2020 Olympic Games together with Sanni Beucke, and Luise Wanser, world champion in the 470 in 2022.

Swedish Challenge

Backed by Artemis Technologies, the Swedish Challenge whittled down the 120 applicants to just 29 for a place at the Artemis Academy from which the sailing teams will be selected for both the UniCredit Youth and Puig Women’s America’s Cup teams. Overseen by Cup winner Kyle Langford as Head Coach with plenty of valuable input from Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy and Sailing Team Manager Fredrik Bergström, the Swedish have been relatively quiet in their build-up to the regatta but are expected to field strong and well-drilled teams. As Kyle Langford said: “We have been really impressed with the high quality of sailing and more importantly the enthusiasm of the sailors. The depth of talent in Sweden is really impressive and it shows great signs for the future of sailing in Sweden. We were truly impressed by the exceptional skills and dedication displayed by all the participants at the Selection Camp. The standard was exceptionally high, which led us to award more Artemis Academy spots than initially planned. The commitment and drive shown by these young sailors has undoubtedly set the stage for a promising future in competitive sailing.”

Team Australia Challenge

A squad of 17 of Australia’s top performing sailing women and youth athletes was revealed by Team Australia Challenge Patron John Bertrand AO to spearhead the nation’s return to the America’s Cup in the UniCredit Youth and Puig Women’s Regattas in 2024. The team have been training hard on the simulator and are regularly racing other teams virtually, even as one Instagram post said: “before breakfast!” Out on the water in March, Puig Women’s America’s Cup team members Lucy Copeland and Tash Bryant headed an all-female team to win, for the first time in its near 100-year history, the Queen of the Harbour 18-foot skiff trophy by just one second – the first time that an all-female team has achieved this feat. Read more here

Among the Team Australia Challenge squad are medal winning Olympians, world ranked sailors, multi-national and international champions in fleet and match racing. The Team Australia Challenge Squad are: Finn Alexander, Tash Bryant, Lucy Copeland, Nina Curtis, Lisa Darmanin, Miles Davey, Jack Ferguson, Evie Haseldine, Tom Needham, Max Paul, Olivia Price, George Richardson, Harry Smith, Mara Stransky, Cole Tapper, Zoe Thomson and Annie Wilmot.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

The final selection for the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Youth & Women’s Teams was the result of months of training and testing at the team base, with specific practice sessions onshore and on the water. “I am very happy with the choices made, but it was not easy,” said Max Sirena, Skipper and Team Director of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.

“The long list was already excellent, we had a choice of athletes with exceptional backgrounds who in their careers have already achieved important results at world level, some with Olympic qualifications. In the end, we focused on individuals best suited to excel on the AC40, the foiling monotype with which they will compete. For this decision we didn’t only evaluate the technical-sporting qualities, but also passion, character and ability to work as a team to achieve a common goal. Now that we have nominated the crews we will focus on training and on the regatta format so that our sailors can approach the events in Barcelona as well-prepared as possible. To all the others I wish the best of luck for their upcoming sporting endeavours, I am sure that our paths will cross again.”

For the women’s crew (to be defined, as for the youth team, on a daily basis on each race day), the names of the chosen sailors are: Giulia Conti (Helm), Margherita Porro (Helm), Maria Vittoria Marchesini (Helm) Giovanna Micol (Trim), Maria Giubilei (Trim) Giulia Fava (Trim) and Alice Linussi (Trim).

The youth team, still subject to change or additions, includes: Guido Gallinaro (Helm), Gianluigi Ugolini (Helm), Federico Colaninno (Trim), Stefano Dezulian (Trim) and Rocco Falcone (Helm/Trim). Marco Gradoni, the three time winner of the Optimist World Championship leads the Youth team.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing

Coraline Jonet, project manager for the Alinghi Red Bull Racing Youth & Women’s America’s Cup said: “We made sure our selection process was thorough by evaluating each of the sailors closely and individually across many criteria. We have huge respect for the other 11 teams and it’s going to be a high level of competition among the world’s best in the two regattas.”

“The crews we selected are the result of a meticulous selection process that started (last) spring and took place over three phases,” said Matias Bühler, head coach of the two teams. “It was always about trying to find a trade-off between keeping it simple and thinking out of the box on how to select the final candidates. But it started by defining the profiles we were seeking for these events, and we believe we’ve found the best team we can build for Switzerland.”

The squad selected includes: Andrea Aschieri (Youth), Nathalie Brugger (Women), Arno de Planta (Youth), Arnaud Grange (Youth), Morgan Lauber (Youth), Marie Mazuay (Youth & Women), Laurane Mettraux (Women), Joshua Richner (Youth), Jann Schüpbach (Youth), Maja Siegenthaler (Women), Alexandra Stalder (Youth & Women), Anja von Allmen (Youth & Women).

INEOS Britannia

The process to select the British team, spearheaded by Hannah Mills OBE was led by Olympian and former Royal Naval Officer Penny Clark, who has extensive experience coaching the British Sailing Team from youth to podium level, and Olympic 49er bronze medallist Chris Draper, an America’s Cup veteran with participations spanning multiple roles, including helmsman for Luna Rossa for AC34 and tactician and wing trimmer for Softbank Team Japan for AC35.

The other selected athletes include Tokyo Olympic Silver medallist Anna Burnet, who is set to represent Britain at the Paris 2024 Olympics. Burnet is not alone in this double selection, with Ellie Aldridge, Saskia Tidey, and Freya Black also selected to race in both the Olympics and the Youth & Women’s America’s Cup competitions. Also joining the team is Mills’ Emirates GBR SailGP teammate and experienced offshore sailor Hannah Diamond, who has previously competed in the Volvo Ocean race and Rolex Fastnet. Hattie Rogers, the reigning National, European and World Waszp champion, has also been selected and the final five Athena Pathway picks are Nick Robins, Matt Beck, Alex Hughes and James Grummett.

Emirates Team New Zealand

Emirates Team New Zealand named their respective Youth and Women’s America’s Cup crews revealing a world class and exciting line up of the best of New Zealand sailing talent. The teams will represent the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand to compete against 11 other countries in the Youth & Puig Women’s America’s Cups in Barcelona this year.

The selection criteria assessed several different factors after the potential shortlisted sailors had a week at the team base being assessed on sailing experience, ability, leadership, team work as well as the applicant’s individual motivations.

Emirates Team New Zealand COO Kevin Shoebridge who was also on the selection panel said, “The level of talent across the board from all the shortlisted sailors was phenomenal, which did not make for an easy selection process for the panel. Individually, they are all at the top of their game, so it is hard to separate them, but our job was to build the best team and AC40 sailing combinations to win both the youth and women’s events, and strengthen the foundation of talent for the future, so we are very excited to welcome them all to the team.”

Having led the selection process Josh Junior said, “Congratulations to the 10 sailors that made the cut. As a team, are very proud to have this exciting group join the wider Emirates Team New Zealand team. Selection is just the first step of a mountain to climb, we want to win both the Youth and Puig Women’s America’s Cup events against a very competitive field, so the hard work starts now, and we hope to continue for many years to come in the team.” Junior had special mention for not only those selected, but all the people that applied. “It is worth also acknowledging all the 121 people that initially applied for the selection process. That is a huge amount of talent and a healthy sign of the strength and passion for top level sailing in New Zealand, so we hope they all continue sailing to the highest level.”

The Women’s team selected are: Jo Aleh, Erica Dawson, Gemma Jones, Olivia Mackay and Molly Meech. Whilst for the Youth Team, the following have been selected: Joshua Armit, Oscar Gunn, Veerle ten Have, Seb Menzies and Leo Takahashi.

NYYC American Magic

New York Yacht Club American Magic introduced their groundbreaking women’s team set to make history representing the United States at the inaugural Puig Women’s America’s Cup back in December 2023. Among the half-dozen athletes on the squad are four Olympians, two former winners of US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year award, and a recent winner of The Ocean Race. Collectively, they bring to this challenge an unparalleled level of accomplishment and expertise.

The six women sailors selected are as follows: Francesca Clapcich, Erika Reineke, Steph Roble, Helena Scutt, Sara Stone and Anna Weis.

In addition, the Youth Team is being formed around Harry Melges, Severin Gramm and Kyle Navin but at the time of writing (April 2024) no announcement has yet been made on the full squad.

Orient Express Racing Team

The French America’s Cup team announced their Youth & Women’s America’s Cup squad at the end of December 2023. The list of 13 sailors includes several world, European, match racing and youth champions, and Olympic sailors across a range of yacht racing disciplines.

Their selection followed a near year-long programme of assessment which involved a collaboration between France’s challenger for the America’s Cup the Orient Express Racing Team, the French Sailing Federation, the Ecole Nationale de Voile et des Sports Nautiques, and Team France. The team have been training hard on the simulator through the European winter and both Enzo Balanger and Manon Audient leaders of the Youth & Women’s teams respectively got their first taste of AC40 sailing in March 2024 whilst the rest of the team continued their training at the French National Sailing School in Breton.

The seven women selected for the Orient Express – L’Oréal Racing Team Women’s America’s Cup squad are: Skipper: Manon Audinet, Pauline Courtois, Lara Granier, Jessie Kampman, Audrey Ogereau, Aloïse Retornaz and Amélie Riou.

And the six young sailors — one woman and five men aged between 18 and 25 — selected for the Orient Express – L’Oréal Racing Team Youth America’s Cup squad are: Skipper: Enzo Balanger, Ange Delerce, Lou Mourniac, Matisse Pacaud, Théo Revil and Gaultier Tallieu.