From left to right: Maria, Nicolai, Calum and Jackie (Aymeric currently overseas)
Image: RHKYC / Vivian Ngan
From a pool of 12 aspiring and talented young sailors, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club today announces that it has selected the first young men and women to join RHKYC Team Agiplast, the Club’s challenge for the Youth America’s Cup 2020-2021.
All 12 applicants were interviewed over the internet in late March where they were questioned about their sailing experience and their understanding of foiling boats. From that process, nine candidates were selected to progress to the second step of the selection exercise; the physical assessment to determine their current levels of fitness and strength. This consisted of excercises which included pull ups, bench presses, shoulder presses, body weight squats and speed rowing over various distances on a Concept2 rowing machine.
The seven Hong Kong based candidates undertook the physical assessment over the Easter weekend involving various exercises, and the two overseas candidates also carried out the same exercises in their locations when restrictions allowed.
The first five sailors are Calum Gregor (age 21), Nicolai Jacobsen (age 17), Maria Cantero (age 22), Jackie Truhol (age 21) and Aymeric Gillard (age 23). Sailors must be over 18 by 1 November 2020 and under 25 by 12 March 2021.
The intention is that RHKYC Team Agiplast will ultimately comprise a final permanent crew of four (two male and two female sailors) and an extended crew one male and one female sailor. The decision as to which sailor will take up a specific role on either the permanent or extended crew will be reviewed in September, giving Head Coach Chris Rashley time to consider the sailors’ performance in fitness and team building between now and then.
Hong Kong born Calum Gregor is a well known youth sailor in Hong Kong and has competed in over 30 international regattas and has foiling experience which is crucial. In recent years Calum was Under 17 World Champion and 3rd Overall at the 2015 420 Class World Championships, 6th Overall at the 2018 29er Class World Championships 2018 and 5th Overall at the 2019 Waszp class European Championships. Calum was awarded the Club's Tom Larmour Award for Young Sailor of the Year in 2013 and the RHKYC Sharks Best Performance Award in 2014 and 2015.
Nicolai Jacobsen, was the Waszp European Champion 2018 and in 2019 came 2nd in Foiling Week and 3rd Under 21 and 9th Overall at the International Waszp Games. He is currently ranked 9th on the Waszp SSL ranking.
Maria Cantero has been more recently coaching Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Laser 4.7 and Radial youth sailors. Maria has vast international experience including being a member of the 49erFX Spanish Pre-Olympic Team for Rio 2016. Maria has competed in over 20 international events in 29ers, 29erXXs and 49er FXs. Amongst her many accolades are Bronze at the 49erFX Youth Worlds 2013 (Skipper), coming 7th at the 49er FX Junior Worlds 2014 (Skipper) and 5th Female at the 29er Worlds 2015 (Crew).
Jackie Truhol also has extensive international sailing experience and has come up through the Club’s youth sailing team, the Sharks Squad. Jackie has trained and competed overseas since 2014, including in 13 countries during her gap year. She was 18th out of 65 at the 2017 European Radial Youth Girls Championships, 5th out of 15 at the 2017 Asian Sailing Federation Cup Women’s Radial and 3rd out of 18 at the 2017 Hong Kong Race Week Laser Radial Open. Jackie was awarded the Club's Tom Larmour Award for Young Sailor of the Year in 2016.
Aymeric Gillard also has international regatta experience including winning the first international event he took part in at the 29er Worlds in Canada. Aymeric has experience in the Red Bull Foiling Generation, Moths and Waszps and has designed his own foiling craft. He was also a member of the Hong Kong 29er sailing team for three years and was also awarded the Club's Tom Larmour Award for Young Sailor of the Year in 2012.
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Rear Commodore (Sailing) Lucy Sutro said “We were delighted to see individuals of such quality putting their names forward as candidates to join the RHKYC Team Agiplast, and enjoyed talking to every candidate through the interview process. The physical assessment was tough and gave the candidates an indication of the levels of strength and fitness that will be required to handle the AC9F foiling monohull which they will be competing in. The RHKYC is proud and thrilled to have youth members of such a high calibre joining the team.”
Training for the team will start immediately with a physical training programme to build fitness and strength, and on the water training in Hong Kong is planned to start later this month. The coaching plans for the summer are still being evolved and will, to a certain extent, depend on the degree that travel restrictions are lifted over the next few months.