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America's Cup for All

2023 October 1

A new series of races gives women and young sailors opportunity for foiling in Barcelona

CJ Perez puts the 69F through its paces.
Craig Ligibel photo 
New York Yacht Club’s America’s Cup Youth and Women’s committee member Leech is no stranger to competing at the highest level on the world sailing stage. In 1995, she was part of a crew of women sailors who came within a whisker of beating Dennis Conner for the right to defend the Cup. Mighty Mary, the America3 syndicate’s boat was leading the final race of the Defender series when the crew made a tactical error which cost it valuable time and the race.  

“No use crying over spilled milk,” Leech said. “The important thing to take away from that experience is that female athletes can compete at the highest level and produce amazing results.”

Leech said the Youth and Women’s America’s Cup Regatta teams are significant stepping stones to welcoming younger sailors and females onto the world stage of competitive performance sailing.

“The Women’s America’s Cup is incredibly important to the development of the next generation of female sailors,” she said. “Seeing that there is a viable pathway that allows women to use their high performance skills, and doesn’t require years of sailing in displacement boats to succeed, will provide incentive to move away from traditional youth sailing.”

Leech said technology as an important factor in women being able to compete at the highest level. 

“Technology development in sailing has led to incredible improvements in the ability to diversify sailing at all levels, especially by reducing the barriers of strength and weight. By making the AC40 battery driven, each sailor will only be limited by their tactical sailing talents, trimming and driving.”

Prospective sailors are savoring the new opportunities.


A daily debrief helps sailors learn.
Craig Ligibel photo 
“This is a great time to be a woman sailor,” said CJ Perez, who is competing for a spot on the woman’s team. “The doors are opening. Technology has leveled the playing field. The AC40 will be driven by a joystick and a digital pad. Anybody with the right reflexes and the knowledge of the mechanics of how a sailboat moves on and above the water can compete.”

Cam Farrah said she is excited about the opportunities the selection process has opened up. 

“I have learned so much from being involved in the training sessions. All of the athletes  are here to support one another.” Farrah said. “We can learn so much from those around us. Sure we are competing for a limited number of spots, but it takes teamwork to get there.”

Muller said the debriefings he conducts after each day’s on-water sailing are the key to learning.

 “I just tee off the discussion with a couple of questions, then stand back and let the team members chime in with their ideas. I learn as much from the athletes as they do from me.”

Erika Reineke, who is training for the Paris Olympics in the 49er class trial, said there are a lot of women in sailing with talent and drive. 

“The level of competition is high and extremely diverse,” she said. “We have female sailors currently on the development roster who are Moth world champions, Volvo Ocean Race winners, Olympians, TP52 circuit winners and national champions. We all have different backgrounds and experiences at the highest levels of our sport. The potential to learn from one another and execute together is exciting.”

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