Special to Nordstjernan from Red Bull Youth America’s Cup
Dateline: San Francisco, 04Sep2013

The fourth day of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup was to have two races. Race-7 would be scored normally but the eighth one would double the points to increase the spread. That seventh race was a real upset. The Swiss rolled over New Zealand at the reach mark and never looked back. In crossing the finish line well ahead of others they became the sixth team in seven races to claim the win. And Portugal again demonstrated their sailing by taking second. That gave them a first, second, and third as well as scoring in the lower half of the pack for the remaining races.
The overall leader, Peter Burling’s New Zealand Sailing Team with ETNZ at one point fell back to dead last. But they demonstrated how never to be demoralized but instead to work through the pack, finishing fourth with their compatriots in fifth. The Swedes finished last. Overall, only nine points separated second from eighth place. Without the spread of the eighth race, that’s close sailing among very competitive teams.
So all teams awaited the eighth race with its double point spread to secure a better position. But the winds kicked up. The teams typically had less than fifteen minutes between the finish of the first race of the day before the start of the next. But this time the start was postponed every 5-10 minutes, until the eight race was finally called off. According to race protocol, that meant that the cumulative standings after the seven races determined the winners.


Double Kiwi at the top, Swedes 6th after a poor seventh race
With the huge lead that Burling’s team had consistently acquired during the first six races, he became the winner. And New Zealand’s Full Metal Jacket Racing claimed second place. This sweep for the Kiwis matched in the youth races the accomplishment of their senior counterparts who are the official Challenger in the 34th America’s Cup. They dominate sailing.
Because Portugal had placed in earlier races and Switzerland had not, the Portuguese stood on the third place stand at the awards ceremony. Their helmsman, Mello, thanked Red Bull and the America’s Cup authorities for affording them the opportunity to demonstrate that Portugal has world-class young sailors. Just as Switzerland lost a podium position, so did the local favorite American team, which had demonstrated some superb sailing during the races, so that by yesterday they were tied with the second Kiwi team. They have raised their profile nationally, as did all members of these teams.
Sweden’s Ekberg told me after the race that there were no explanations other than that they sailed a poor race today.
These four days of youth racing were some of the most exciting in the entire summer of racing. Each day brought surprises and changes in the leader board. But gradually the winner outdistanced the rest of the pack on cumulative points. And the second Kiwi team challenged them continually. In the end they had great pride in having come this far, having been totally self-sufficient, relying upon their own initiative. Like this team that qualified on their own merits, several others had to raise their own funds, organize themselves into a team, and sometimes even coach themselves. All team members have gained worldwide recognition. Now most of them dispersed to follow their individual paths in other regattas and Olympic campaigns. We wish them well and thank them for an exciting four days of superb sailing.

Most exciting during the first couple of days as Swedes were on third and fourth place and closing in... RBYAC: Sweden tied for third after 2 races

Ted Olsson
San Francisco