is the future here?

New gadgets, events and designs over the years have claimed to be the “Future of Sailing” .

The canting keel but most keels are still vertical, PBO but most rigging is still steel, foiling but most boat still float rather than fly, carbon this and that but most hulls are still fiberglass and rigs alloy.

The real future of sailing (or any sport) always has been, is, and always will be the youth of today -they are tomorrow’s boat owners, those who will carry our sport, literally, to the next generation.

Having a daughter who first stepped on a boat at 5 years old, is still a keen sailor, and has now compete in 5 world championships and witnessed multiple families passing the passion on to their kids in a similar manner, I am more than a little aware that our sport not just benefits from youngsters coming into the sport but to survive needs it.

At the other end of the spectrum I used to sail with a couple of much older owners who, within a year of me buying my own first ‘boat with a lid’ sold their boat and hung up their sea-boots for good.

I was therefore more than a little pleased, actually that’s not strong enough, I was excited when I heard about the Emirates Team New Zealand initiative to launch the Youth America’s Cup.

I know a Youth America’s Cup has been run before but that makes this no less exciting. Presented by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in an initiative in co-operation with Emirates Team New Zealand and the China Sports Industry Group the new 9m foiling monohull built by Yachting Developments will be crewed by 4 sailors(two male, 2 female) between the ages of 18 & 24.

Designed to give younger sailors the opportunity to sail on boats of similar concept to the ‘grown ups’, the new design as all the attributes mentioned up front, it is a full carbon, canting keeled, foiling monohull of 30 foot overall and looks like she will be a flying machine

ETNZ’s Grant Dalton sees this development as a ‘stepping stone’ for youngsters to develop through towards America’s Cup potential evidenced by a number of the current Kiwi squad having been sailors in the 2013Youth AC.

China Sports Industry Group Chairman, Wang Weidong stated “The America’s Cup ….. is a stage all athletes dream of” and “it is vital we pay more attention to fostering the next generation”. The Squadron’s influence on the America’s Cup is probably second only to the New York Yacht Club which is quite remarkable considering there are 4 times as many New Yorkers as Kiwis and the GDP of the entire country is only 15% of the Big Apple.

The boat itself has many of the attributes mentioned up front, it is a full carbon foiling monohull (designated AC9F) developed with the assistance of Southern Spars, North Sails along with significant support from New Zealand’s wider marine industries. The competition will be along similar lines to the original Deed of Gift with entries open to clubs so therefore not restricted to one entry per nation

It is truly refreshing to see cooperation between one of our sports powerhouses working together with an emerging sailing nation for the overall betterment of our sport’s future.

The full press release can be viewed here . Further details can be found here.