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Land Rover BAR Academy announce squad to represent Britain in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup

Land Rover BAR Academy Squad competing in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup, Bermuda. (from left to right) Chris Talor, Sam Batten, Rob Bunce, Neil Hunter, Elliot Hanson, Adam Kay, Annabel Vose.
© HARRY KH

Seven talented, young aspiring America’s Cup sailors – with an average age of just 22– have been chosen to represent Great Britain this summer. Taking place in Bermuda, the host venue for the 35th America’s Cup, the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup (RBYAC) will see the Land Rover BAR Academy compete against eleven other national youth teams.

Inspired by four time Olympic gold medallist and 34th America’s Cup winner, Ben Ainslie, the mission of the Land Rover BAR Academy is to find and support talented young British sailors into professional sailing and the America’s Cup. The programme is run by Land Rover BAR, the team challenging for the 35th America’s Cup, and supported by Land Rover, Castrol, Aberdeen Asset Management and Henri Lloyd.

The goal is to create a career pathway for British sailors into the America’s Cup, and build a British team that can win the RBYAC. The Land Rover BAR Academy have already competed in the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™, coming fifth in the professional stadium racing series, supported and mentored by the Land Rover BAR Senior Sailing team. They recently placed 2nd in the Act 2 of the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series™ in Qingdao, China.

Onboard with the Land Rover BAR Academy during Red Bull Youth America's Cup training camp in Bermuda.
© HARRY KH

One remarkable story is the progress of Neil Hunter who – after just ten months with the Land Rover BAR Academy – was promoted onto the senior sailing team. Hunter has now been in Bermuda for the last five months, training with the team ahead of the America’s Cup.

The selected squad for Bermuda is Rob Bunce (skipper), Chris Taylor, Annabel Vose, Elliot Hansen, Sam Batten, Adam Kay and Neil Hunter. The squad recently completed a seven-day training camp in Bermuda, which saw the return of Neil Hunter to the team.

The training camp was the perfect learning curve for the Land Rover BAR Academy, providing their first sail of the AC45F and the opportunity to immerse themselves with the senior squad and see first-hand the hard work, commitment and skill it takes to become a full-time America’s Cup sailor.

The teams, all comprising of sailors aged 19-24, will race the foiling, wingsail AC45F used throughout the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series 2015 and 2016. The Land Rover BAR Academy will compete in Pool B during the Qualifier events over the two-day race period on June 12th & 13th.

Land Rover BAR Academy training onboard an AC45F in Bermuda
© HARRY KH

Rob Bunce, Land Rover BAR Academy Skipper: “I’m looking forward to skippering the Land Rover BAR Academy team at the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, it’s a massive opportunity for us as a team to really put to the test everything that we’ve learnt since the Land Rover BAR Academy formed last year – and hopefully win the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup .  We’ve got a talented group of sailors from a variety of backgrounds and I think we’ve done a really good job of building our relationships and sailing skills together over the last year.”

Neil Hunter, former Land Rover BAR Academy skipper, now sailing with the Senior team: “It’s been an awesome learning experience to be part of the senior team out in Bermuda training for the America’s Cup. Being part of such a talented and professional group of sailors has been invaluable to the progression of my sailing career and seeing the work that goes on behind the scenes has really opened my eyes up to the world that is the America’s Cup. I hope to put that to good use for the Land Rover BAR Academy.”

Jono Macbeth, Land Rover BAR Sailing Team Manager: “It’s been great to have the Land Rover BAR Academy squad for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup training on their AC45F in Bermuda. Our performance is going to be directly linked as to how quickly we get to grips with sailing the AC45F and everyday on the water is crucial. We can only select seven sailors for the squad in Bermuda, it was hugely competitive process and the sailors not selected should be proud of their efforts and they will continue their journey with the Land Rover BAR Academy for the rest of the Extreme Sailing Series 2017.”

Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Squad:
Skipper, Rob Bunce
Helm, Chris Taylor
Strategist, Annabel Vose
Main Trimmer, Elliot Hanson
Jib Trimmer, Sam Batten
Jib Trimmer / Float, Adam Kay
Bow, Neil Hunter

Dates for the diary:
May 29th – June 3rd 2017: Pool A team training
June 5th – June 10th : Pool B team training
June 12th – June 13th : Qualifier 1 racing *
June 15th - June 16th : Qualifier 2 racing *
June 20th – June 21st : Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Final Series *

* all race events include a third day of scheduled racing, held in reserve should any issues prevent racing being completed on scheduled dates