Wound Up & Ready to Rip
Wound Up & Ready to Rip
Contrary to popular belief, sailing is no stranger to the extrovert energy drink giant Red Bull. In fact, it’s one of the longest standing disciplines in the company’s mixed portfolio of sports, says Hans Peter Steinacher, one of its longtime sailing athletes. Red Bull, which has been around since 1987, brought sailing on board in 1993, and shortly thereafter hired Austrians Steinacher and his longtime sailing partner, Roman Hagara, double Olympic Gold medalists in the Tornado catamaran to both compete and run its sailing program. “That we were double gold medalists in the catamaran class fit with Red Bull as they always sponsor sailing boats that fly a hull,” says Steinacher.
Fast forward to AC34: Red Bull has come on board as the helmet sponsor for Oracle Team USA, and Russell Coutts has lost no time selling his idea for a Youth America’s Cup to Red Bull. “For Red Bull, the America’s Cup was always about old people and very experienced sailors, so we knew we had to do something for the youth as well. That’s how the Youth America’s Cup came about,” explains Steinacher, 44, who shares the role of sports director for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup with Hagara. The event, which is widely expected to be the highlight of the 34th America’s Cup, runs from September 1 through 4, with eight fleet races scheduled.
Is this event ready to go?
HPS: Yes, we have all ten boats on the water and actually we could start tomorrow if we needed to.
What’s been the biggest challenge pulling it all together?
HPS: The 10 boats. The boats cost $1 million, and you get them from the teams. To go to the teams and say, “We’re using your boat," you have to be sure to return it in the same condition that you received it. We’ve spent a lot of time talking with the teams and sharing our training plans, which had the youth teams start slowly for a very long period for training so that they get used to the boat.
Have the teams had enough time to train?
HPS: More than enough. We’ve now had our third day of training on the water. It’s already looking very professional. On the boat, the guys know what’s going on. They have a better feeling now of what they can risk and what not. The next 12 days will be more training, and they’ll be ready for racing.
What’s your impression of the standard?
HPS: We selected 10 teams out of 40; these are the best that we could find in the world. I'm quite impressed with how good they are with their skills. The only big issue for them is that they’re not used to working together. They have six young guys on board--normally they’re sailing with one other person maximum, so they don’t talk a lot. They’re not communicating, that’s their biggest issue. And, they don’t think in advance. The little dinghies or catamarans that they are sailing--most of them are sailng 49ers--most of the time they don’t have to say anything, like "tacking in three seconds." They just do it--pull the rudder and that’s it. You just can’t do that on boats like this. You have to prepare the runner, you have to prepare the winches, and so on. It’s not a big deal, just interesting to observe. It’s the same with all the teams.
Have you started practicing fleet starts?
HPS: This is coming up in the next few days. We’ll do the first few without pressure, just to get time and distance figured out.