NZ crews vie for Youth America's Cup series

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013

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New Zealand may have two or possibly three crews contesting the Youth America's Cup after early success in the selection trials being held in San Francisco.

New Zealand are guaranteed one crew in the event courtesy of Team New Zealand's status in the senior event. That will be a combination crew of TNZ and Yachting New Zealand sailors headed by 2012 Olympic silver medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

Two weeks of trials in the AC45 (45-foot catamarans) to find at least four crews to join the six automatic entries are being held on the America's Cup course in San Francisco.

A Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron crew, skippered by William Tiller, took Full Metal Jacket Racing to first equal with a German crew from the first qualifying series last week.

Today Chris Steele, a former world Optimist class champion, will skipper 36 Below Racing, another RNZYS entry, in the second qualifying series.

The Youth America's Cup is open to sailors aged from 19 to 24 and will be sailed between the Louis Vuitton Cup finals and the America's Cup finals from September 1-4.

"It's been very enjoyable ... we loved the opportunity to get here," Tiller said.

"Sailing AC45s is spectacular, especially when the breeze is up. It's so much fun. I think we've developed well as a team, gotten stronger and stronger. We've definitely come together and I hope we get selected."

Selection is at the discretion of the America's Cup organisers and won't be revealed until after this weekend.

But Tiller's crew certainly put their hands up, winning three of the nine fleet races among six yachts. Their consistency in the other races allowed them to finish equal with the Germans, who actually won five races.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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