Stars & Stripes Challenge plans to sail with a coed crew
SAN DIEGO (AP) — America's Cup challenger Stars & Stripes Team USA says it will have a coed crew when it competes for the oldest trophy in international sports in New Zealand in 2021.
As well as opening its recruiting process to women, Stars & Stripes Team USA is seeking athletes from a cross-section of sports who can fill out the all-American crew aboard its physically demanding 75-foot foiling monohull.
"We've said from the start we want to build an authentic and inclusive team, and in our minds that means our sailing team will be coed, made up of men and women," said co-founder and skipper Mike Buckley. "There are incredible female athletes and I want to see them sailing our AC75."
Women sailors on America's Cup crews are rare. Another new challenger, Team The Netherlands, announced last week that Carolijn Brouwer will helm the boat.
Dawn Riley was with America3 during the 1992 America's Cup but didn't sail in the finals. In 1995, she was captain of what was the first all-women's America's Cup team until Dave Dellenbaugh replaced J.J. Fetter as starting helmsman and tactician. Dennis Conner won a do-or-die defender finals race against America3 to reach the match, where he was swept by Team New Zealand.
The rival SailGP league, which launches this month using foiling catamarans, has one woman, Olympian and round-the-world sailor Marie Riou of the French team.
Stars & Stripes Team USA will hold foiling camps at its base in Long Beach with its GC32 catamaran Feb. 19-28 and March 10-22, as well as a combine tour to test athletes who might not normally apply for a job as a professional sailor.
The team already held one foiling camp.
"We have been blown away by the number of sailors who want to be part of this team and the foiling camps are a quick way to get these athletes out sailing and see how they work with the team," helmsman Taylor Canfield said.
The open combine tour is set to begin in the spring, with dates and locations announced as soon as applications have been reviewed. The combine tour will test athletes' strength and conditioning in a one-day series of physical tests including a timed 2,000-meter row, max repetitions within a set time for bench press, squats and pull-ups, and a power output-endurance test.
Buckley said the open combine tour is one way the team can bring the America's Cup into the American sports mainstream.
"This country has such a deep and diverse athletic heritage and we think that inviting athletes from across every sport will only serve to bolster the competitiveness of this team in the long run and increase the visibility of how incredible the sport of sailing is," he said.
The America's Cup is switching from foiling 50-foot catamarans to foiling monohulls.
"In the last America's Cup, the athletes were required to sail the most complex sailboats ever designed while sustaining their max heartrate for more than 20 minutes," Buckley said. "We are anticipating that the physicality of our new AC75 race boat will exceed that and are looking to build the most fit, skilled and inclusive team possible."
Backed by the Long Beach Yacht Club, Stars & Stripes Team USA is one of six challengers that will compete for the right to face Emirates Team New Zealand in the 36th America's Cup match.