Monday Nov. 12th 2012 will go down as a historic day for the AYSF. We became the first all youth run and operated team to go out sailing on an AC45. It was an experience of a lifetime that we hope won’t end here. Thanks to Oracle Team USA, we were given the chance to prove ourselves as capable of working as a true team to learn these boats and show that we are the future of sailing. We were given two days on the boat to show what we’ve got and I’m very pleased to say that we gave it our all.
Day 1 started early at 5 am. We met at the Oracle base on Pier 80 for a tour of the compound before settling down for a pre-sail briefing. We then spent the rest of the morning rigging and launching the RedBull AC45 that we sailed on. I will say that the amount of time and preparation that goes into these boats is amazing and shows the true dedication of both the shore crew and sailors to keep these craft in tip top shape. As soon as the boat was launched we were on board getting the last bits rigged and immediately set sail out of the harbor. Our coach and mentor on board, Darren Bundock had the helm for getting out into the bay and as soon as we cleared the piers I was handed the tiller and immediately knew that this was real. It felt so natural for the whole team and as soon as we started sailing, all the nerves seemed to fade away and our instincts kicked in. We stayed in South Bay as the breeze was building nicely and the Sun was shining. We did countless laps, flying between anchored ships and barges, constantly pushing ourselves with each maneuver to be more aggressive and just own the boat. Though we were all physically wiped out at the end of our session, none of us were ready for it to be over. Once we got the boat de-rigged and on the mooring it was straight into de-briefing. We reviewed on board footage from the day and took notes and asked questions regarding ways to improve our performance. We found this to be extremely beneficial as we had the opportunity to dissect everything from the sailors and we wasted no opportunity to gain from this. Afterwards we met up with some of the shore crew and assisted in some rigging work before heading home that night feeling rather tired but extremely happy.
Day 2 also started early, we had a scheduled physical fitness test at 6:45 am sharp. The test was meant to push each team member to the absolute max to see how we perform under that sort of stress. Some of the exercises included grinding on the mock pedestals for 5 minutes straight on the hardest setting and comparing the distance to what the top guys on the Oracle Team can do. We also had a timed trial of grinding a heavily weighted tractor tire 10 meters on a standard winch setup, which was actually quite fun. The test results proved positive for the team, it showed that we still have a ways to go to be at the same level as the pro’s but that we aren’t far off and with more focus on high intensity circuit training, we can be just as good. After the workout we had a hearty breakfast before gearing up and going out on the water again. The breeze was pretty light in South Bay so we got a tow out to the top of the Berkley Circle where the northerly started filling in nicely. We spent the first half of our session doing laps around some channel markers to warm up before the chase boats setup a mock race course for us to run. Up until this point, our coach on the back was there for us to ask questions and learn from. Now it was our turn to run the boat purely on our own. The race wasn’t timed but was used to push us and find out how our team worked under pressure with laylines and mark rounding’s. I am really satisfied with how our team did and even John Craig from the ACRM seemed impressed. The rest of the day was spent de-rigging the boat and de-briefing inside. We also presented to Oracle our training and fitness plan now based on what we know from those two days.
So after two days of intense sailing and training, all I can say is that we as a team are ready to keep going. The taste we were given has only solidified our intentions to keep fighting towards our goal of competing in this event. I really want to thank Oracle Team USA for allowing us free reign on their boat and providing such expert advice and coaching. I also want to thank Erik and Vince from Marine Media Alliance for being there for our team since day one, always ready to cover whatever our team gets up to. So now things get strangely quiet as we await word from Oracle on whether we get selected or not. We are hoping to know by next Wednesday so please keep your fingers crossed and keep following our progress at www.americanyouthsailingforce.com