Second Kiwi crew makes Youth America's Cup
Young New Zealand sailor Will Tiller was waiting next to the telephone in his Oman hotel room, hoping for a call that would put him and his crew on the world stage.
And that's exactly what unfolded with organisers of the Youth America's Cup ringing to confirm the Kiwis' participation in the regatta that will be sailed between the Louis Vuitton Cup finals and the America's Cup in San Francisco.
Tiller, skippering the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron entry Full Metal Jacket Racing, survived a three-week qualification process in San Francisco to make the cut.
The racing among 12 teams saw five eventually selected to join five teams that are already backed by America's Cup World Series syndicates and have automatic entry, including Team New Zealand who will be skippered by Olympic silver medallist Peter Burling.
A third Kiwi crew, skippered by Chris Steele on board 36 Below Racing, missed out.
Tiller and his mates are in Oman for an X40 regatta but their minds have been very much in San Francisco.
Now he and his crew know they face a busy time training to get ready for the September 1-4 Youth America's Cup that will be sailed in the spectacular 45-foot catamarans by teams aged 19-24.
"We're pretty psyched," Tiller said. "We were all sitting around the phone at about five in the morning, nervous. But we're very happy to have made the selection. The opportunity to race the Youth America's Cup is fantastic, but now the hard work begins. We have to put together a training program."
Double Olympic gold medalists Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, the sports directors for the Red Bull Youth America's Cup, made the selections after closely monitoring the teams on and off the water during the two back-to-back selection weeks.
"This has been very difficult," Hagara said. "The level of each team is much higher than we could have hoped for, which is good. But only five of them are able to race with us in September so this decision wasn't easy to make."
Race results made up 60 per cent of the selection criteria. Teams were also evaluated on professionalism on and off the water, as well as on the training programs they have set up to develop their skills before September.
"We always said we were looking for the best of the best," said Steinacher. "And that's what we have now. I believe any of these five teams will be capable of winning in September."
Selection series teams advancing to Youth America's Cup
New Zealand - Full Metal Jacket Racing
Australia - Objective Australia
Germany - STG/NRV Youth Team
Portugal - ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team
Switzerland - Team TILT
Youth crews supported by America's Cup World Series Teams
France - Energy Team
New Zealand - Emirates Team New Zealand
Sweden - Artemis Racing
USA - Oracle Team/American Youth Sailing Force
USA - Oracle Team/USA45 Racing