America’s Cup - Sport

Cooper happy to look at the big picture

  • Team BDA in action in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Finals (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

It might not have been the send-off they were hoping for, but Bermuda’s Red Bull Youth America’s Cup sailors had every reason to hold their heads high after yesterday’s final day of the regatta.

The local team finished at the bottom of the eight-boat fleet after slipping two places down the leaderboard on the final day of racing in light and shifty breezes on the Great Sound.

Despite enduring another tough day at the office, Team BDA’s sailors left nothing on the racecourse and their hard work was certainly appreciated by their supporters, who cheered the local team on as they crossed the finish line in the sixth and final race.

“Hearing the people in the Grandstand just gave us an extra push to try to do better,” Dimitri Stevens, the Team BDA helmsman, said. “I love to hear everyone’s horns and shouts. It was great.”

Mackenzie Cooper, the Team BDA skipper, added: “The support from Bermuda washes away [the] tough last race.

“You can’t beat yourself up over that sort of thing and looking at the big picture we’re super happy and the support Bermuda gave us we will never forget.”

Team BDA started the final day of racing in sixth and got off to a flying start with a third-place finish in race four.

However, costly mistakes in the remaining two races halted their momentum.

“When you are sailing against high-level teams like this, the smallest mistakes can put you behind. We made a couple of small mistakes and we paid for it,” Cooper said.

Team BDA made clean starts in all three races but struggled with their boat speed at both ends of the racetrack in the shifty 5-12 knot southwesterly breezes.

“Our effort was great and there was no point where we stopped pushing, and the racing here was tough with the conditions,” Cooper added.

“We were just trying to keep the boat going fast all the time.

“The course was super short, so manoeuvres, speed and the starts were obviously super critical.

“The pressure was going from a couple of different places, so we were just trying to stay in the breeze and keep going.”

Cooper and his team-mates have completed a steep learning curve which saw them make the transition from conventional sailing to high-performance racing in foiling catamarans.

“We started with a bunch of people who had never sailed foiling catamarans at all and look where we are now; competing in the finals of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup,” Cooper said.

“You have to look at the big picture which is the big thing; where we started and where we finished.

“So looking at the big picture, we are super happy.”

Cooper said he and his team-mates felt privileged to have competed at this level.

“This experience is something which is hard to put into words,” he said. “I think this is an incredible opportunity and we are very lucky to have the America’s Cup here and the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup here.”

Team BDA were making their debut in the regatta and were the youngest team in the fleet.

The local team have only trained full-time since January, with some team members having no previous sailing experience.

“What an incredible journey,” Cooper said. “It’s weird to think that for some of us it’s over, like myself, we’re ageing out. But this bond is unbreakable and we will be mates for life.”

The entire regatta was contested in light breezes which denied the local sailors the opportunity to show off their newly acquired foiling skills.

“All the training we did prior to the event was to sail foiling and it was definitely a bummer not to do that,” Cooper said. “We definitely like those conditions.

“But that’s sail boat racing and you have to deal with what you get.”

Land Rover BAR Academy won the regatta by a two-point margin over defending champions New Zealand Sailing Team. Team Tilt, of Switzerland, finished third.