I have been quite critical of the new America’s Cup organization in the last couple of years but, still, there is one aspect that is probably one the best, if not the best, ideas the Golden Gate Yacht Club and its organization had. I’m referring to the Youth America’s Cup, the competition reserved to under-25 sailors and sailed on the actual AC45, the yachts the current teams are using. Although it has some flaws, such as the very limited marketing opportunities the teams have, it is a positive step forward that gives young sailors a unique opportunity to have a shot at the pinnacle event of our sport. If you think of it, young sailors never had any chance of getting near any AC yacht, let alone race one. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that young sailors have enthusiastically embraced this new format and a few dozen teams have expressed serious interest in participating.
VSail.info is currently in the impressive Marina di Loano, 80km west of Genova, following the training sessions of Team Italy by STIG, the only Italian projects that aims at taking part in this innovative event, scheduled to be held in San Francisco in the first week of September, in the gap between the Louis Vuitton Cup finals and the actual America’s Cup.
The young America’s Cup teams have been divided into two groups. The first one consists of 6 teams that are supported by a current participant in the America’s Cup World Series. The nationality factor has been strengthened and all sailors of each crew will have to be of the same nationality. The US will be represented by two teams, one of which from San Francisco, and Emirates Team New Zealand, Team Energy, Artemis Racing and Team Korea will have one team each. All of them have their berth guaranteed next September.
The second group consists of 11 aspirants, divided into two subgroups of 6 and 5 teams, that will have to go through a selection process in San Francisco during the month of February. Following the selection series two teams from each of the two subgroups will join the other 6 at the actual Red Bull Youth America’s Cup.
Team Italy by STIG is the brainchild of Enrico Zennaro, a seasoned Italian sailor, that saw this as a unique opportunity to start building the future generations of Italian top sailors. If the America’s Cup is to be sailed on multihulls in the foreseeable future then sooner or later, younger sailors will have to starting learning the ropes and that was the right moment to start such a project. From the early days of the project, Zennaro counted on the enthusiastic support of Alessandro Rombelli, owner of the mini maxi STIG 72, who supported the team by bringing along his main sponsor of the mini-maxi campaign, Gagà Milano, a top-end Italian watch manufacturer.
Zennaro counts as well on the invaluable support of Italian sailing legend Lorenzo Mazza who is in charge of crew selection and training. The nine young Italian sailors are training on Luna Rossa’s Extreme 40 catamaran in the Marina di Loano, a brand new impressive marina on the Ligurian coast, approximately 80km west of Genova, and Team Italy by STIG is flying the burgee of Yacht Club Marina di Loano.