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Saturday, January 21, 2017
Bermuda Pair Leading Open Bic in New Zealand

On Day One of the 2017 Forward Sailing New Zealand O’pen Cup, the two Bermuda Sailors Azhai Smith and Christopher Raymond are leading their Fleets. Click Read More to see the start of Race Six.

Smith is the current leader in the Gold Fleet with 8 Net Points, Smith finished in the top three in all six races, recording 3 wins, a second and 2 thirds.

Raymond is the current leader in the Silver Fleet with 7 Net Points. Raymond won the first three races, before recording back to back second place finishes before closing out the day in 4th.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017
Jones' Youth America's Cup Helm Hopes Dashed

With the news that Olympic sailor Gemma Jones' bid to become the first woman at the helm of a Youth America's Cup boat has fallen short.

Jones, the daughter of America's Cup legend Murray and Olympic silver medallist Jan Shearer, was one of 13 sailors invited to trial for a place in the NZL Sailing Team crew for the June event.

This still leaves Bermuda’s Ceci Wollmann in the position of making history when the event gets underway in Bermuda Waters.

Jones and crew mate Jason Saunders finished fourth in the mixed multihull Nacra 17 class at last year's Olympics, where she was the only female skipper in the medal race.

The 23-year-old had been eyeing the helming duties or a tactical role on the Kiwi boat, but was not among the eight-strong crew named by Yachting New Zealand yesterday.

Logan Dunning Beck will be skipper and helmsman for the campaign and will be joined by Stewart Dodson, Isaac McHardie, Micah Wilkinson, Matt Kempkers, Luca Brown, Harry Hull and Josh Salthouse.
Monday, January 16, 2017
Youth Red Bull Teams Announced

Red Bull Youth America´s Cup Sport Directors Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher have announced the 12 teams of sailors aged 19–25 that have been invited to compete in the 2017 Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in Bermuda.

The two Olympic legends from Austria introduced the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in 2013 to identify outstanding sailing talent and provide a potential pathway to a career in the America’s Cup.

With that continuing objective, in 2017 the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup will for the first time use AC45 foiling catamarans, as used by the America’s Cup teams in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, for the fastest, most breathtaking action yet.

“The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup has changed the America’s Cup world – the teams saw that the new boats fit the young generation, who are very good at handling the speed,” says Steinacher. “The sailing leaders are picking younger sailors than before.”

An extensive trials process has taken place worldwide to identify the teams that will compete alongside the six teams affiliated to the full America’s Cup teams, overseen by Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher. Over 20 teams registered for the selection process, and the final six have now been confirmed, making a total fleet of 12 teams to compete in Bermuda in June 2017.

ORACLE TEAM USA, the Defender of the America’s Cup, will support and mentor both Team BDA, the Bermudian challengers for the 2017 Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, and Next Generation USA, the American representatives in the 2017 events.

Bermuda typically offers exceptional sailing conditions in June, with sparkling flat water and favorable winds that make the Great Sound a prime location for foiling. At 45 feet, the AC45F boats are the same challenging watercraft used by professional sailors in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. While longer than a city bus, they deliver exceptional speed – potentially over 35 knots – when they rise up out of the water on their foils.

This year’s Red Bull Youth America’s Cup teams, which for the first time include entries from countries such as Austria and Spain, are currently evaluating potential crew members and undergoing the training and preparation necessary to be ready for the rigors of the regatta. The teams will announce their six-person rosters in May, ahead of Qualification in Bermuda, when two pools with a maximum of six boats each will sail for a spot in the Finals. The top four teams from each pool will take part in the eight-boat battle for top honors.

“So far, eight sailors from the 2013 Red Bull Youth America’s Cup have found positions on America’s Cup boats, including Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who were on the Kiwi team that won the first Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. They went on to become Olympic Champions and earn positions on Emirates Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup,” Hagara points out. “It’s going to be exciting to see the racing this time around with the added dimension and speed of foiling.”

Red Bull Youth America’s Cup gets underway in Bermuda this summer with Pool A and B Qualifiers June 12th - 16th, followed by the Finals scheduled for June 20th - 21st.

Team List, Red Bull Youth America’s Cup 2017

• Candidate Sailing Team, Austria
• Team BDA, Bermuda
• Youth Vikings Denmark, Denmark
• Team France Jeune, France
• Next Generation - Team Germany, Germany
• Land Rover BAR Academy, Great Britain
• Kaijin Team Japan, Japan
• NZL Sailing Team, New Zealand
• Spanish Impulse Team, Spain
• Artemis Youth Racing, Sweden
• Team Tilt, Switzerland
• Next Generation USA, USA
Friday, January 13, 2017
The Other Side of the Americas Cup

No one would argue that the Americas Cup SAILING event is a good thing for Bermuda, but some are wondering if everything else that comes with it would actually be worth it.

Back on December 9th, 2013, John Coté wrote an article reflecting on the 34th Americas Cup.

Coté wrote, “San Francisco is still in the red from hosting the 34th America's Cup, which so far has cost taxpayers at least $5.5 million, according to draft financial figures from the regatta that The Chronicle reviewed Monday.

That spending, though, allowed the city to host an event that drew more than 700,000 people to the waterfront over roughly three months of sailing and generated at least $364 million in total economic impact, draft figures from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute reveal. That figure rises to more than $550 million if the long-planned construction of a new cruise ship terminal, which the regatta served as a catalyst to finally get built, is factored in.

Even the higher number, though, is well below the $902 million in economic benefit that was projected in March, a few months before the races were held. And it's a far cry from the $1.4 billion economic boost that was originally predicted in 2010, when the races were billed as trailing only the Olympics and soccer's World Cup in terms of economic impact.

The real costs and benefits of hosting the regatta - the most prestigious competition in competitive sailing and this year the source of one of the most stunning comebacks in international sports - are expected to be in the spotlight as Mayor Ed Lee prepares to submit a preliminary proposal for hosting the next Cup by a Dec. 22 deadline.

Critics contend that using taxpayer funds for the event amounted to subsidizing a vanity race for the ultra-rich. Supporters view it as a smart investment that pumped up the local economy, brought international media coverage and prodded city officials to finish planned waterfront improvements that had languished, including better sidewalks and a promenade at Fisherman's Wharf and a redone bike path and boat berths in the Marina District.

The Cup "showcased our beautiful city to the world and brought thousands of new jobs, long-overdue legacy waterfront improvements, international visitor spending, and a boost to our regional economy," Lee said in a statement.

It came at a cost.

The city spent $20.7 million to hold the event, according to the latest figures from Lee's office. That number does not include more than $180 million in long-planned improvements around the waterfront that were finally completed in advance of the event. The most notable was the new cruise ship terminal at Pier 27, which is only partially finished.

Ongoing private fundraising, which was intended to help cover the city's event costs and initially pegged at $32 million, has so far only reimbursed $8.65 million to taxpayers, while also covering other obligations. If the net increase in city tax revenue of $6.6 million during the event is factored in, that still leaves taxpayers $5.5 million in the red.

"A $5.5 million deficit, all for a yacht race for billionaires," said Supervisor John Avalos, who maintains that such money could have been better spent improving city services in outlying neighborhoods like the Excelsior, which he represents. "The whole event has been nothing more than a stupefying spectacle of how this city works for the top 1 percent on everyone else's dime."
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Smith & Raymond Preparing For O'pen Cup

Azhai Smith in New Zealand Waters
Two Bermuda Young Sailors Azhai Smith and Christopher Raymond remain in New Zealand as guest of Sir Russell Coutts a five-time winner of the America’s Cup, Olympic gold medallist and 2017 America’s Cup CEO.

The pair are preparing for the upcoming 2017 Forward Sailing New Zealand O’pen Cup, which will take place at the Otago University Rowing Club.

Smith and Raymond recently concluded competing in a Open BIC Sailing event in New Zealand, with Smith finishing 8th and Raymond finishing 23rd.
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