March 24 - 30, 2013: Issue 103

Objective Australia Youth America’s Cup Campaign Launch at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club - Saturday 23 March

Above: (Front l to r): Ted Hackney, Phil Jones, CEO of Yachting Australia, Hon. Bronwyn Bishop, Cmdr. Rob Curtis of RPAYC, Jason Waterhouse, skipper.  (Back l to r): Jordan Reece, James Wierzbowski, Keiran Searle and Josh McKnight. Picture by A J Guesdon.

 Objective Australia Youth America’s Cup Campaign Launch at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club - Saturday 23 March

Commodore of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club at Newport, Rob Curtis, took great pleasure in introducing the launch of the Objective Australia Youth America’s Cup campaign on Saturday afternoon. Surrounded by children participating in the 2013 NSW International Optimist State Championships, which the club is hosting this weekend, and hundreds of adults members and guests Mr Curtis welcomed all and provided a few insights into some aspects of the teams and campaign;

Cmdr. R Curtis; We’re here today to launch the Objective Australia Youth America’s Cup campaign and their aspirations of taking out the Youth America’s Cup in September this year. If you have been watching, this really is becoming quite an amazing event in San Francisco. The World Cup event for the America’s Cup at the moment is moving to Naples for the next round and that is very well attended. It is actually a who’s who of sailing. What’s interesting is if you look at the teams representing the countries in the America’s Cup in many instances there’s not a close representation of the countries that they are participating for.

The Youth America’s Cup, the process that these guys have been through is quite outstanding. They are representing their country. They started off with over 12 teams. I’m sure they’ll touch on this but I cannot help saying this, James and his team have left behind Great Britain, Argentina, Italy, New Zealand II, Austria, Denmark, and Russia.

The teams that are going at the moment, there’s five crews that do go because of their link to the America’s Cup, so there’s two Oracle teams, one Swedish team, one New Zealand and one from France. Australia is in there with Germany, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland. These are manned by people who are under 25 years of age representing their country. Some of these guys have done it on a shoestring budget.

I was talking with Tony Walls, Team Principal, and he stated that some of these guys are living hand to mouth to represent their countries. We’re hoping that when this event comes in September there will be a real focus of this America’s Cup on the Youth America’s Cup event because they are the true representatives of their countries.

Above: autographing posters and inspiring the next generation of young sailors. Picture by A J Guesdon. 

When we heard that Tony, Traks and Jason and his team had been given the nod I said the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club would support them in their endeavours. We’re very proud of our involvement in sailing around the world. We’ve had Olympics representatives in every Olympic Games since 1956. I saw my daughter Nina, she’s here tonight, a silver medal in the most recent Olympics.

It’s our Youth Development program that brings these people through. This weekend there’s 159 Optimist Dinghies out there on Pittwater, 25% of them are representing the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. That’s outstanding. Our Youth Development team goes from strength to strength. My son Dean is over there working with Oracle as a rigger, and Andrew Coates, another Youth Development team member, is there as a sail maker. They all come from playing on boats on Pittwater.

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Commodore Curtis then introduced Tony Walls, RPAYC member, Team Principal, Founder and CEO of Objective Corporation, an ASX-listed company that consults to the government sector in Australia and internationally and also a successful Sydney 38 sailor, winning the 2009 Nationals with Acuity. Mr Walls also sponsored Katie Spithill when she sailed on the international Match Racing circuit.

Tony Walls; I’d like to welcome the Honourable Bronwyn Bishop, fantastic to have you hear, thank you for coming. I’d also like to welcome Phil Jones, the CEO of Yachting Australia. We’ve also got some America’s Cup Legends in Rob Brown, Hugh Treharne and Phil Smidmore here as well, so welcome guys and thank you for coming, and hopefully some future legends that are being formed here this weekend with the State titles.

For those of you who don’t know me I ran a 38 campaign here back in 2009 and met some fantastic people in the sailing world. We were successful and I think that the mastermind behind that campaign was Traks Gordon so Traks and I have had an affiliation that has gone back for quite a long time.

At the end of that campaign we said ‘what can we do to help youth sailing in this country?’. We have Pittwater and as so many of you know who travel around the world, Pittwater is a magical place, the Northern Beaches of Sydney are such a magical place. We wanted to do something not only for the local community but work out how could we bring youth sailing up a notch and contribute, not necessarily at an elite level but to drive participation in sailing. So very very quietly and anonymously we’ve been doing our Future Champions Program here for the past few years. Then something really big happened which was the announcement of the Youth America’s Cup. It’s fair to say that our ability to be anonymous and do what we like at that end of the carpark has changed a little bit and a few more people kind of know what we’re doing.

In terms of the Future Champions Program we launched; the great thing about this so far is that we’ve had around 120 kids through that program which I think is just a tremendous effort from Traks in particular in the contribution he has made over the last couple of years. 37 of the kids who have been through that program or had some coaching from Traks through that program are competing in 2013 in 12 countries around the world. Australia, New Zealand, the USA, England, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore is a few of these countries. So it has been a fantastic effort and a fantastic journey, albeit a nice quiet one up until now. 

Moving onto the AC, it was really quite unusual when this was announced in May of last year and like all overnight successes they start very early. At the point the Youth America’s Cup was announced I think it took us about three days and a few discussions before we said ‘we’re in, let’s go and have a go at doing this for Australia’. So we got involved very early and I must acknowledge the help of a whole bunch of people who are members here at the club. First of Ian Murray who gave an enormous amount of his time and advice as to how we should approach the situation from very early on in the piece. James Spithill who you’ve seen contribute to our video and who has helped us along the journey. Darren Bundock who has helped us here at the club. Mal Page, so many people from our sailing community and a whole bunch of people in San Francisco. When we’re in San Francisco the amount of Australians who want to see Australia back in the Cup blew us away. Bringing all that together is best seen by a video put together by our media team on where we’re up to; HERE.

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Traks Gordon, Sailing Director and Coach for the Objective Australia Youth America’s Cup Campaign introduced those team members who could attend the launch. Three members, Tom Burton, Oliver Tweddell and Luke Parkinson are at present competing on the Olympic Tour. Many other members of this team will join them soon. Some extracts from Mr Gordon’s address;

Traks Gordon; The team; James Wierzbowski, who is a very good Hobie Cat Sailor, third in the world at present; Jordan Reece, who up until a couple of months ago was the highest ranked Match Racer under 21 in the world and the only reason he’s not anymore is because he turned 21, Keiran Searle who is a very diverse keel boat sailor, has spent time with the Lansing Volvo team and is a veteran of the Sydney to Hobart, a very capable keel boat person. Ted Hackney just seems to be a person that everytime you see the results from around the world you see his name on the crew list. He’s on the crew list and I think he’s the lucky charm in Farr 40’s and RC44’s and Melges 32’s. Josh McKnight is the World Champion currently in the Moth’s class. As we know Moths are boats that fly above the water, not in it, and these have become a bit of an asset when it comes to doing things that happen very very quickly. Last but not least, Jason Waterhouse. Jason is four time World Champion and skipper of this team and someone I’ve worked with for many years.

You realise how old you are when you coach a bunch of guys who weren’t alive when Australia won the America’s Cup. A lot of the kids here today in the Opti’s are probably in Year 5 and I was in Year 5 when Australia won. It’s pretty interesting to think that a lot of these guys in this team weren’t alive then but are now chasing the same dream.

I found coaching when I was about 20. I realised it’s way more rewarding to be able to motivate somebody else other then yourself. It’s easy to get out of bed and practice if you want to practice; you don’t want to make someone practice, you want to make them want to practice; that to me is the hard part sometimes.

It also meant I could compete in more events every year. As a sailor perhaps five or six events is all you can do but last year we prepared sailors for over 60 individual class events and that’s the ultimate way as a competitor to maximise your time. I’m in love with competing and this allows me to compete all the time.

If I was a builder I’d be the guy who laid the foundations and be proud of it. I’d like to drive past my house a hundred years later and se it’s still standing. So when I work with the young guys I see the foundations and it’s cool to see people this age; James Spithill, all these guys, Nina (Curtis), go do amazing things. It’s cool to think that back, way back, you had something to play in that picture.
The Future Champions Program Tony touched on was an evolution of 20 years in the coaching game. Basically, what it is helping people with dreams realise them. One of the big things is it’s an expensive sport if you try and break it down into little chunks. Nowadays the game is competitive, nowadays you do have to qualify and the opportunities; everyone is trying to get the same ones. I realise there are people who are prepared to work super-hard but they can’t resource the equipment or the training they need. So the Future Champions Program is the purest form of coaching we give; the highest quality and highest quantity training to those who are most deserving. The people you see within our program, that’s what they are, really deserving young sailors.

When I’m talking about the foundations, and coming up to the Youth AC now, I want the kids to look at this and not see this as the end but as the foundation of their professional training in going from being a good sailor to, hopefully, a superstar.

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Traks then handed over to Nicki Ainley from Sailing Chix which airs on Radio Northern Beaches who interviewed the boys for the Sailing Chix Program. Nicki’s interview will be aired; details below.

The last words from the team came from skipper Jason Waterhouse.

Jason Waterhouse; I’m just going to talk a little bit about the Future Champions Program and where I come from. I live about a stone’s throw up the road, on the hill here at Newport. I joined this club when I was about 4 years old as a sailor; mum and dad got me into that when I was quite young. Long story short I was soon sailing every afternoon; a lot of you may have seen me out there on cold Winter afternoons training and probably saw this little coach behind me screaming at me; that was Traks Gordon.

I was very lucky to become part of the Objective Future Champions program when I was about 14. We worked hard for the first year and I qualified for the Youth Worlds in Weymouth, England where they just held the Olympic Games.  We finished 4th, losing the silver medal on the last day. I remember thinking to myself then that I never wanted to feel like that again, it was almost the worst day of my life, I’ll never forget it. Every time since then it inspires me and reminds me I don’t ever want to feel like that again, I don’t want Traks to feel like that again watching the results from a thousand miles away. From there I went to Canada, Denmark the year after that and then Brazil and that was a pretty amazing life. That’s when I realised Professional sailing was for me.

The Program here, it was a very tough four years balancing going to school and a social life with everyone staying out with their friends. I remember speaking to Traks one day and saying I don’t really want to go sailing that much, I just want to go for a surf and him saying ‘Do you want to be extraordinary?’ and answering ‘Well yes’, and ‘well you’re ordinary, you’ve got to put the extra bit in’ and I decided to push through.

Eventually I came out of the youth’s over 18 years old and we didn’t know much of the pathway then because unfortunately the multi-hull got dropped out of the Olympic Games and it was a crushing moment. Traks and Tony and I sat down and had a chat about it, about what other pathways there were for me and we decide to stick with the multi-hull and it was amazing as the next day the multi-hull was back in the Olympic Games in Rio in three years, which I’ll be trying to go to, and also the multi-hulls in the America’s Cup.

For me to go through the training here, starting about ten years ago, and seeing about 160 Optimists out on Pittwater today is just the most incredible thing. It's a big testament to the Youth Development and the Future Champions Programs here.  It’s great seeing these young sailors here as part of this same process. We’re now flying over to San Francisco to continue to grow and we’ll try our best to win it and come back and maybe win the America’s Cup in the future.

Thanks for all your support, for coming tonight and it’s great to see all the kids here as well; thanks very much.

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The Objective Australia Youth America’s Cup Team will be racing on an AC45, one of the fastest boats in the world. The other fastest being the AC72 which will also be raced in September's America's Cup events. These are catamarans which in recent training sessions have reached speeds of over 25 knots and over 45 knots respectively. The America’s Cup and Youth America’s Cup is sure to be a very exciting campaign in which these vessels will, literally, fly over the water.  Just proves, as already stated, there is NOTHING-absolute nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.*

Objective Australia Facebook page (simply ‘like’ for updates) http://www.facebook.com/ObjectiveAustralia

Radio Northern Beach Sailing Chix with Nix: http://www.facebook.com/SailingChix
And at: http://www.sailingchix.org/

Red Bull Youth America’s Cup website: http://www.americascup.com/events/red-bull-youth-americas-cup

* From Chapter 1. Wind In the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, published 1908.