In between this summer's America's Cup finals and the conclusion of the Louis Vuitton Cup (Sept. 1-4), a fleet of lesser known, but no less motivated, youth sailors will take to San Francisco Bay, competing in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup. This new race includes nearly a dozen national teams composed of sailors ages 19 to 24 aboard agile AC45s. Earning a berth for this cup is an accomplishment in its own right; competitors on these six-man teams are receiving backing from an official America's Cup World Series team or have attained a wild-card spot by besting numerous opponents in a series of competitions. Race organizers see this event as a springboard for young sailors to catapult into the exclusive world of America's Cup competition.
"My pathway to the America's Cup was one of good luck. When I was a youth sailor, there wasn't a clear pathway to the Cup," says Oracle team skipper Jimmy Spithill. "The Red Bull Youth America's Cup gives these guys a great opportunity, and the game's opened up to much wider participation. The youths' level of organization is impressive."