On Wednesday ClarkSail caught up with Mikey Radziejowski of the American Youth Sailing Force, who were just recently selected by Oracle Team USA to represent San Francisco Bay in the 2013 Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. Mikey brings us up to speed on all the team has accomplished and what the plan is going forward in this exclusive interview –
ClarkSail: Hey Mikey how are you?
Mikey Radziejowski: Hey Willy how is it? I’m not too bad. Sprained my ankle yesterday so I’m hobbling around a bit and now am forced to sit down and study.
ClarkSail: Well I guess it could be worse. Anyhow, it’s been a very big couple of weeks for ASYF hasn’t it? Bring me up to speed. Getting a spot in the Youth America’s Cup must have been hugely gratifying.
Mikey Radziejowski: Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s still surreal for me. A year ago this was just a far fetched idea and now we have a guarantee that we will be competing in the first ever Youth America’s Cup.
ClarkSail: I can imagine. It’s particularly big because now, thanks to getting selected by Oracle, you guys and Team America Racing get to advance directly to the finals right?
Mikey Radziejowski: Correct. Being selected by an existing AC World Series team is the only way to guarantee a spot in the finals, aside from buying an AC 45 that is.
ClarkSail: Gotcha. So take me through your training regimen. As I understand last summer you just sailed as often as possible in as many boats as you could your hands on.
Mikey Radziejowski: Yeah last summer we sailed a variety of boats. We tried to focus on mostly catamaran sailing but we did a lot of skiff stuff as well. We competed in the 18 foot skiff regatta in San Francisco as a team, which was the first time I got to helm an 18 so that was super exciting. Our Team Director Ian Andrews and myself got an opportunity to race on an SL 33 for the Rolex big boat series which was crazy. So we sailed together on various boats, but we didn’t all sail together until we sailed the AC 45.
ClarkSail: So just sailing as together as possible as often as possible. What’s the plan going forward?
Mikey Radziejowski: We are currently coming up with with a solid plan. It involves trying to get to 18 foot skiff worlds in February, and we are working out the details to sail some big cats on the bay as a team.
ClarkSail: But now that Oracle is behind you will you get the chance to do a little more focused stuff?
Mikey Radziejowski: Yeah being backed by Oracle is a huge plus. We are going to get to train alongside the pros, and get access to the coaches and the 45s. We wont get to sail everyday or even every week because Oracle is just so busy. But, starting in March, we will get to train on a 45 at least two weekends a month.
And aside from the sailing part the physical training is going to be extremely important. Those boats really do require an absurd amount of strength and stamina.
ClarkSail: I’m sure. So who drives the 45 when you do get the chance to sail it? I’m sure they will need you as a grinder so who gets the stick? Liebenberg (three time 29er North American Champion David Liebenberg) maybe? Perhaps Ian?
Mikey Radziejowski: Well it’s one of those things we stil have to figure out. When we tried out against Oracle Ian was at the helm and he did very well. However Oracle wants the best possible team so there probably will be a few crew changes. I think it will end up being Liebenberg, but there is the possibility that it will be the new addition to the team Michael Menninger. I threw my hat into the pot but the Oracle guys strongly recommended that I stay in my position just because of my size and strength.
(editors note: For those who have not met Mikey, he has been over 6 ft’ and 200 lbs since the age of 14)
ClarkSail: It is awfully funny. We spend all this time talking about tactics, yet so often races are determined by who gets their jib in fastest out of a gybe or something of that nature.
Mikey Radziejowski: Totally, especially in the 45s.
ClarkSail: So tell me how did you get into this? I first met you when we were sailing International Canoes together and now your on your way to the Youth America’s Cup. What happened?
Mikey Radziejowski: The AYSF team was formed by Ian and Evan Sjostedt when the Youth America’s Cup event was first announced. Evan contacted me pretty early on asking if I was interested in joining. I was stoked.
ClarkSail: Got the call of a lifetime huh?
Mikey Radziejowski: I mean I really didn’t know what it would be at the time, but it was awesome and I was excited to get the call.
ClarkSail: I bet. Well it all sounds awesome Mikey. You’ve come a long way. Don’t forget the canoe though. We still love you.
Mikey Radziejowski: Haha! Thanks Willy. I could never forget canoe sailing. I’m still planning on doing worlds in 2014. Can’t wait to see all you guys.
ClarkSail: Same here. Good luck Mikey. We’re all rooting for you. I’ll check back in later on as your training really gets under way.
Mikey Radziejowski: Thanks man. Send my regards to everyone.
ClarkSail: Of course, and thanks for doing this.
Mikey Radziejowski: No worries.
Mikey Jan Radziejowski is one of seven sailors making up the American Youth Sailing Force. The team is based in Richmond, CA and sails out of Richmond Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay where the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup is set to take place in August, 2013.