The perks of life on two hulls
Academy Member Andy Sinclair, an accomplished catamaran specialist, has just had an amazing trip to California trialling for the Red Bull Youth America's Cup event along with new Academy Members Sam Sebways and William Semken. Here is their story, unfortunately a near miss, but they were on top till the last day. Read on ..
The last few weeks for me have been one big roller coaster ride, between University work and the Red Bull Youth America's Cup. As many of you will know I was the helm for 'GBR Youth Challenge' the British entry in the 'Red Bull Youth America's Cup Selection series' from the 18th-24th of February. The journey to this started last November, with team manager James French applying for a place in this selection series but we were not accepted.
There was a surprise though in early January with an email arriving offering us a spot. So with just over a month to go we had no money, no training boat and a very vague idea of our crew. Through a lot of hard work from the team, finances were found, Guy Jackson from Slam UK stepped in as kit provider, Tony Lawson founder of Team Concise came on-board as a financial backer and Jim Mundy from Weston SC who let us use the 23 foot all carbon Tek Kat as a training boat to get the team used to life on 2 hulls.

The bench and the bungee in the barn.
 We spent 2 weekends training on the Tek Kat, and even managed one fairly epic pitchpole. The final weekend, before departure to San Francisco for the selection series, we got some time on the water on a 26 foot Firebird catamaran. Along with this we also spent some time on our 'imaginary AC45'.

We used a room at Southampton University Library to work out all the crews' roles and manoeuvres and then practiced them by running across the room jumping over coats!
We developed this further by running across a barn and climbing over a bench while ducking under a bungee line!
Somehow on Friday the 15th February, 6 Sailors, a media/reserve sailor and a coach turned up at a hotel in downtown San Francisco. On Saturday Seb our wing trimmer and I had the chance to race Urs Rothacher's SL33 with designer Pete Melvin, while our bowman Pete and trimmer Adam went out on a Formula 40 Shadow, giving us a chance to see the bay and get some time on the water. We were able to go out under the Golden Gate bridge and have a quick sail about in the Pacific, pretty cool!

The team L to R: Will Semken (reserve/ media), Seb Sammways (wing), Pete Austin (bow), Andy Sinclair (helm), James French (tactics), Adam Lees (trim), Trystan Seal (bow 2), Tudur Owen (Coach) Photo Credit Gilles Martin-Raget.
We moved into our crew house on Saturday night and on Sunday we visited the Artemis Racing base (one of the challengers for the "real America's Cup in 72' wing rigged foiling catamarans!) and were shown round by Adam May, quite a cool setup. Sunday afternoon saw us seeing the AC45's for the first time (a bit like kids in candy store), registering and getting our helmets….

Sunday morning fitness session on marina green.
Monday. Let it begin. A group briefing, a briefing from catamaran legend Darren Bundock on how not to capsize 45's, a look around a rigged up 45 and a fitness test 5 minutes of grinding, 20 sec on, 10 sec off and a 10 metre top handle grind of a weighted tyre. Hard work and we gave it our all but standing up was hard for half a minute after the grinding!
Our first day of sailing on Tuesday got blown off with wind and rain, but we all got suitably soaked pulling an AC45 out the water. That wasn't the end of the day for us though, with our coach putting us in for a session in Oracle Team USA's gym.
Finally Wednesday was it, the day we had been building up to, sailing the AC45! With 10 knots of breeze we did several beats and runs up and down San Francisco bay getting to grips with this awesome piece of kit. Everyone came off the water with grins on their face! On Thursday morning we had a surprise when Ben Ainslie was at the back of the AC45 we were training on and gave us quite a few useful pointers. We also saw Oracle 17 (Oracle Team USA's Ac72) screaming around, often in full flight on her foils, one minute she would be in the distance, next minute she would be flying past at some serious pace!

Downwind Training on Red Bull Dark.
Friday was race day 1, another sunny day in San Fran with 10-18 knots of breeze provided exciting racing!
We scored a 1,2,1 in hard fought races, taking the lead on the final run of the final race of the day. The course length and time makes things pretty exciting, a reaching start, a run, a beat, a run and back on the reach to finish through the start line with the race being now longer than 18 minutes and often sub 15 minutes.
This meant short sharp stuff, easy to go from hero to zero and zero to hero!

See Video Here on YouTube

Light airs racing on 'Black Betty'.
Saturday was my favourite day, we had the first few races off then 2 races back to back on 'Black Betty' the boat that wasn't meant to be as good. We went into it guns blazing counting 2 wins taking the lead at the top mark on the first race.
This will go down with me as 2 of my most memorable races. We finished the day with a 3rd, not as good but happy faces. Sunday sadly wasn't as good, racing in a strong tide we finished 2nd in the first race with a great battle on the final run but scored two thirds on the final 2 races.
Sadly though we hadn't done enough to get selected for the finals in September, we were gutted, but that's sailboat racing through and through. The main thing was though that with a tiny budget, and the only team that had no training on 30+foot catamaran's we had given it our all and led the racing for the first 2 days. We knew from the beginning that we were going to have to fight hard against the teams that had been training since October with large budgets. The team did an amazing job with so little time training and all I hope is that I am not too old before the next Youth America's Cup so I can go at it with a bigger budget, a bigger team and more time to prepare!
Thanks to everyone that has given us support all the way along, Macmillan Cancer Support, Team Concise, Slam UK, the Tek Kat, AC45 Sailors and coaches and my past sailing coaches and friends.
For me now though it's time to get back on 2 hulls full time! With my Spitfire crew Josh Potts we looking for funding towards the new Olympic Multihull the Nacra 17 and until we have got enough money for that you will find us on anything that has two hulls and is fast! This event has by far been some of the most fun I have had sailing, upwind at 13 knots and downwind at 20+ is the way forward. I have learnt so much, met so many great people and had so much fun!
This is not the end for GBR Youth Challenge, the team all now have the multihull bug and want more so we currently looking for funding towards a Extreme 40 event this summer. The team will also try and do some match race events as a team.
Also all the team will be found racing yachts around the Solent, Will on the Ker 40 Magnum, Adam on the Swan 42 Brevity, James and Trystan on the Farr 45 Kolga, Seb on the J109 Jynnan Tonnyx and Andy on Quokka
Andrew Sinclair

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