12 Jun 2017

'It's been a steep learning curve'

12:47 pm on 12 June 2017

While Team New Zealand campaigns for a shot at the America's Cup, a group hoping to follow in their footsteps is also on the water in Bermuda.

New Zealand is one of 12 national teams in the Youth America's Cup, which will have their first races on Tuesday morning in the 45ft foiling catamarans, used in the AC World Series.

The sailors are aged between 18 and 24, and have to learn quickly, how to handle the smaller, but still fast AC45s.

"Learning to sail the boats was exciting, they're pretty out of control, so it's been a steep learning curve, and a different challenge every day," said the skipper Logan Dunning Beck.

The team is coached by Rod Davis, who helmed some of New Zealand's 1992 America's Cup races, and has sailed at the Olympics as well as working as a coach for Team New Zealand.

Training time in the shared boats is strictly rationed, and the New Zealand team lost valuable days when winds in Bermuda exceeded the 18 knot maximum for the class.

"I don't think any of the teams has got the boat sussed, at the moment it's a race of who can learn fastest," said Beck.

He said most of the crew had ambitions one day to move into the America's Cup itself.

"Its pretty obvious that the big teams have guys out of the Youth America's Cup last time and included into their teams, and it's a real stepping stone - being here you get a real feel and taste for it," he said.

Two such names are Team New Zealand's helmsman Peter Burling and his Olympic sailing partner Blair Tuke, who lead the crew that won the initial Youth America's Cup in 2013.

Beck said he wasn't phased by the carnage he had seen in Bermuda, including Team New Zealand's capsize.

"It's part of it, there's been a bit of fuss made about it, it's part of sailing, a few teams have had it and it's normal. You get on with it and carry on," he said.

Qualifying races for the Youth America's Cup will be held this week between the challenger finals and the Cup itself next weekend, with the Youth Finals held next week.

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