Bermuda – 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 perfect set of race results on the day with three consecutive victories, while the leaders after day one ofthe Finals, 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 the New Zealanders set to celebrate onboard their boat, incredible 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 team’s eventual second place in the race proved enough to see them finish on 50 points, just two ahead of NZL Sailing Team in the final standings.
“We had some slightly bleak thoughts for a little while watching on in that final race,” conceded Land Rover BAR Academy skipper Rob Bunce, reflecting on the dramatic 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 launch 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 Team BDA, who had exceeded all expectations by reaching the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Final, finished their incredible journey in eighth place, having enjoyed momentous highlights including a fairytale 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.
“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,” Hagara stated. “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 2017, Final overall standings: 1. Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) 50 pts, 2. NZL Sailing Team (NZL) 48 pts, 3. Team Tilt (SUI) 42 pts, 4. Artemis Youth Racing (SWE) 37 pts, 5. Team France Jeune (FRA) 35 pts, 6. Spanish Impulse by IBEROSTAR (ESP) 34 pts, 7. SVB Team Germany (GER) 33 pts, 8. Team BDA (BER) 33 pts
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