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America's Cup Inspires Young Racers  –  If you haven’t heard by now, the 33rd running of the America’s Cup will be decided between two boats; BMW Oracle Racing’s 90-foot trimaran called BOR 90, and Alinghi’s 90-foot catamaran called Alinghi 5. This represents the very pinnacle of skill, talent, experience and money that sailing has to offer. With ex-Olympians at the helm, world champions as tacticians and, in some cases, rugby-sized strong men turning the winches, these boats and sailors represent the peak of all sailing. But where do these sailors come from? The simple answer is right in front of you. Every time you see a small boat out sailing, perhaps as small as an Optimist (7 feet) or a 40-foot cruiser with a family on board, many of these sailors got their starts in sailing from a very young age in similar situations as you see around the BVI.

I can’t help but give my junior sailors history lessons in sailboat racing from time to time, and in this case with the America’s Cup just around the corner, I feel like more time is spent going through what makes these two AC boats so fast than going over our points of sail. Both factors are very important at different levels to the sport of sailing. For my young racers, understanding why we do things is often more important than how we do them. A quick lesson in America’s Cup history often inspires good practices, usually with lots of match racing to finish off a day.

 

BOR 90 shows off its sailing wing. Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget.

First, I tell them about the three-hulled BMW Oracle boat that can hit speeds upwards of 35 knots. Its mast height sits at 180-feet high, and its hard-surface wing spans 6700 square feet. The boat will do 2 to 2.5 times the speed of the wind, which means in 10 knots, it could be moving as fast as 25 knots. This is where the young sailors realize it may be around 10 times as fast as they have ever gone in a sailboat of their own and start to wonder what it would be like.

I then go on about the current cup holder, Alinghi, with their 90-foot catamaran Alingi 5. Its mast stands approximately 180 feet, or the height of an 18-storey apartment building. With three sails up, the square footage equals 21,800 square feet, enough to cover just under half a football field. It only has two hulls in comparison to BMW Oracle’s three. I show my sailors video, photos, bios and all the fun, interesting stuff the internet has to offer on these boats. Being able to break out multi-media for young sailors is necessary in today’s electronic world and helps keep their focus after or before of a long day of practice.

So as you read this, the AC may have already started. I suggest you go online, get a good cable connection, find a bar or friend that has a good TV, or even make the trip to Valencia, Spain were the two boats will race. If you have kids, bring them, even if they don’t sail. If your kids sail, make sure they know what’s going on; they will remember these boats for a long time coming, and may be inspired to one day race in the very pinnacle of all sailboat races, the America’s Cup.  

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