Emirates Team New Zealand have named their respective Youth and Women’s America’s Cup crews revealing a world class and exciting line up of the best of New Zealand sailing talent. The teams will represent the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand to compete against 11 other countries in the Youth & Puig Women’s America’s Cups in Barcelona next year.
The teams are:
Emirates Team New Zealand Women’s Team:
- Jo Aleh – Olympic Gold & Silver medals in 470 class / NZLSailGP
- Erica Dawson – Tokyo Olympics Nacra- 12th / NZLSailGP
- Gemma Jones – Nacra 17 Rio Olympics 2016- 4th
- Olivia Mackay – World Champion Red Bull Foiling Generation / NZLSailGP
- Molly Meech – 49er FX world champion and Olympic Silver medallis
Emirates Team New Zealand Youth team:
- Joshua Armit – Gold medal at the 2018 Youth Worlds in Laser class
- Oscar Gunn – 2022 49er National Champion
- Veerle ten Have – 2021 & 2022 Wind foiling National Champion
- Seb Menzies – 420 World Champion / 2022 Moth National Champion
- Leo Takahashi – 49er Olympics 2020 Tokyo Olympics- 11th
The selection criteria assessed several different factors after the potential shortlisted sailors had a week at the team base being assessed on sailing experience, ability, leadership, team work as well as the applicant’s individual motivations.
Emirates Team New Zealand COO Kevin Shoebridge who was also on the selection panel said, “The level of talent across the board from all the shortlisted sailors was phenomenal, which did not make for an easy selection process for the panel. Individually, they are all at the top of their game, so it is hard to separate them, but our job was to build the best team and AC40 sailing combinations to win both the youth and women’s events, and strengthen the foundation of talent for the future, so we are very excited to welcome them all to the team.”
The respective Youth and Women’s teams will assemble for a series of training camps starting in February next year where they will get their first taste of sailing the AC40 to work out the strongest combinations of roles between the driving and trimming positions.
23-year-old wind foiling national champion Veerle ten Have said, “I’m beyond stoked about being selected for the Youth America’s Cup team. I think it’s a huge step in my sailing career and I’m excited to get to know, and work alongside the team. Overall, I’m honoured to be part of this epic journey.”
Also selected for the Emirates Team New Zealand Youth Team is Leonard Takahashi, fresh off a podium finish as crew in the World Match Racing championships, “It is an incredible feeling to be selected and a huge opportunity to represent Emirates Team New Zealand at the Youth America cup. It has been a great time being immersed into Emirates Team New Zealand and this selection is the icing on the cake. I am going to put my all into this project and I am excited to learn, grow and perform with this great team of talented sailors!”
Currently there are four Emirates Team New Zealand AC75 sailors that sailed in previous Youth America’s Cup regattas and Seb Menzies can see what opportunity lies ahead, “It is a huge privilege to be selected in the Emirates Team New Zealand youth team. To be part of an America’s Cup team has always been a dream of mine from when I first stepped into a boat. I’m super excited and motivated to be part of such a high performing team and to be working alongside so many exceptional sailors who I have grown up following.”
The Puig Women’s America’s Cup raced in October next year in Barcelona will be the first time a specific Women’s America’s Cup has been held. Like the youth event, also sailed on the AC40’s the aim is to provide pathways for the best women sailors in the world into the future America’s Cup sailing teams. With 12 teams fighting it out to be the inaugural champion, New Zealand sailing team Nacra 17 Olympian Erica Dawson said, “It’s been a big goal for a while now and to have the opportunity to participate in the first ever Puig Women’s America’s Cup team for Emirates Team New Zealand is a massive honour.”
Having led the selection process Josh Junior said, “Congratulations to the 10 sailors that made the cut. As a team, are very proud to have this exciting group join the wider Emirates Team New Zealand team. Selection is just the first step of a mountain to climb, we want to win both the Youth and Puig Women’s America’s Cup events against a very competitive field, so the hard work starts now, and we hope to continue for many years to come in the team.”
Junior had special mention for not only those selected, but all the people that applied.
“It is worth also acknowledging all the 121 people that initially applied for the selection process. That is a huge amount of talent and a healthy sign of the strength and passion for top level sailing in New Zealand, so we hope they all continue sailing to the highest level.”