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Hallelujah! Youth America’s Cup Goes Coed

Perhaps taking its cue from the Olympics, the next Youth America’s Cup will require mixed crews of two female and two male sailors on each boat. The two previous editions were almost exclusively male.

The Boat: AC9F

AC9F rendering
A rendering of the new AC9F design. This particular image shows three (crudely drawn) crew aboard, but the plan is for crews of four.
© 2019 Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron

The new AC9F, a 9-meter (29.7-ft) foiling monohull designed by New Zealand boat building company Yachting Developments (YDL), is the weapon of choice. Emirates Team New Zealand’s design team, Southern Spars, and North Sails had input, with support from the wider New Zealand marine industry. YDL in Auckland will be the primary builder of the one-design boats.

YDL’s owner Ian Cook just happens to be the commodore of America’s Cup Defender Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. “We are incredibly happy with the design of the AC9F,” says Cook. “We believe they will generate great competition and an even playing field for all the teams involved, whilst also leading from the front in terms of modern yacht design, and creating a great product for fans around the world to observe.”

Fleet and Match Racing

China will host a fleet-racing seeding event in November 2020. A match-racing event in Auckland on February 18-23, 2021, will follow. The finals will take place on March 8-12, 2021, outside the RNZYS clubhouse in the shadow of Auckland’s Harbour Bridge.

The Youth Crew

In keeping with the original America’s Cup Deed of Gift, the Youth America’s Cup is designed to be a “friendly competition between yacht clubs of all nations.” Multiple entries from various countries will be allowed. Crews must be 18-24 years of age, with a maximum crew weight of 311 kilograms (that’s ever-so-slightly less than 730 pounds, an average of 182.5 lbs per person).

“The Youth America’s Cup is something we have been eager to see established since we won the America’s Cup and also introduced foiling monohulls to the America’s Cup with the AC75. The Squadron has presented a concept that we believe will add something special to the 36th America’s Cup,” said Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton. “Probably the most important aspect of this is that through the establishment of the Youth America’s Cup event, in conjunction with the exciting AC9F boat, a pathway or vital stepping stone for the best young guys and girls from around the world has been created to progress one step closer to sailing on an AC75 in the future. It is hard to go past the evidence of our current team that is now made up of a number of crew members from the winning 2013 Youth AC team.”

Sailing in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge in 2013, the Kiwi team won the inaugural edition of the Youth America’s Cup in AC45 catamarans. The British team won the second edition in Bermuda in 2017.

Red Bull Youth America's Cup 2013 with Golden Gate Bridge
The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup fleet racing at America’s Cup 34 was fun to watch.
© 2019

The Basics

The initial entry period for yacht clubs and youth crews is no open through February 29, 2020. The entry protocol is intentionally very similar to that of the America’s Cup Challenger series and match.

We’re looking forward to seeing who signs up. Send expressions of interest to Find more Youth America’s Cup info at But don’t look for it on the main America’s Cup site, because you won’t find it there. They haven’t updated that since November.

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