Sailing: Jones' helm hopes dashed

New Zealand will go into the Youth America's Cup in June as reigning champs after winning in 2013. Photo / Martial Gobet
New Zealand will go into the Youth America's Cup in June as reigning champs after winning in 2013. Photo / Martial Gobet

Olympic sailor Gemma Jones' bid to become the first woman at the helm of a Youth America's Cup boat has fallen short.

Jones, the daughter of America's Cup legend Murray and Olympic silver medallist Jan Shearer, was one of 13 sailors invited to trial for a place in the NZL Sailing Team crew for the June event.

Jones and crew mate Jason Saunders finished fourth in the mixed multihull Nacra 17 class at last year's Olympics, where she was the only female skipper in the medal race. The 23-year-old had been eyeing the helming duties or a tactical role on the Kiwi boat, but was not among the eight-strong crew named by Yachting New Zealand yesterday.

Logan Dunning Beck will be skipper and helmsman for the campaign and will be joined by Stewart Dodson, Isaac McHardie, Micah Wilkinson, Matt Kempkers, Luca Brown, Harry Hull and Josh Salthouse.

It's a good mix of sailors from Olympic classes, keelboats and catamarans, with Dunning Beck, McHardie and Wilkinson members of Yachting New Zealand's fast-track programme which aims to accelerate the development of talented youngsters into Olympic campaigners.

The NZL Sailing Team will go into the event, which runs in conjunction with the America's Cup in Bermuda in June, as defending champions after Peter Burling and crew took out the inaugural event in San Francisco in 2013. Burling is one of four members of the 2013 youth team who have stepped up into full-time roles with Emirates Team New Zealand, with Blair Tuke - who he teamed up with to win gold in the 49er class in Rio, Andy Maloney and Guy Endean joining him in making the leap.

"It's a great opportunity to be involved with a team event and if you perform well, it can really open doors," Dunning Beck said. "We have got a really good bunch of guys who have a lot of experience and the ability to do really well at this event."

The Red Bull Youth America's Cup will be sailed in the same one-design AC45 foiling catamarans the America's Cup teams competed in during the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series and are capable of speeds of up to 40 knots.

All six teams competing in the America's Cup will race in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup with other entries from Austria, Bermuda, Denmark, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. Six sailors aged 19 to 25 will be on each catamaran.

They will be allowed to practice on an AC45 for a maximum of seven days before the official practice sessions.

Youth America's Cup

NZ Team: Logan Dunning Beck - skipper (Wakatere Boating Club); Stewart Dodson (Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron); Isaac McHardie (Royal Akarana Yacht Club); Micah Wilkinson (Ngaroto Sailing Club); Matthew Kempkers (Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron); Luca Brown (Murrays Bay Yacht Club); Harry Hull (Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron); Josh Salthouse (Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron).

- NZ Herald

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