Teams, selection trials and outline programmes for participation in the Youth and PUIG Women’s America’s Cups are starting to come together with organisers, sponsors and supporters recognising these pathway events as crucial to the future of the sport at the very highest level as well as being stand-out, high profile events at the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona in 2024.
The competition is set to be fierce with twelve national teams now confirmed to compete in the strictly one-design AC40 foiling monohulls that are proving to be sensational to sail and more than capable of hitting speeds into the high 40 knot bracket – some believe that 50 knots may even be achievable in the fast bear-aways at the windward mark.
The announcement that Artemis Technologies is supporting the Swedish Youth & Women’s teams that is very much a cross-country, united challenge under the flags of no less than two yacht clubs – the Royal Swedish Yacht Club and Gothenburg Royal Yacht Club – is a huge boost to the country’s future participation in the America’s Cup.
After the 33rd America’s Cup with the America’s Cup transitioning from IACC monohulls to fast-catamaran racing, businessman and international yachtsman Torbjörn Törnqvist elevated his impressive Artemis Racing Team that was competing on various global circuits to compete at the highest level. Early success in the America’s Cup World Series led the team to the AC72 catamarans for the 2013 America’s Cup where, representing the Royal Swedish Yacht Club became the Challenger of Record. Ultimately, they were unsuccessful in 2013 but returned in 2017 in Bermuda for the 35th America’s Cup where they reached the Finals of the Challenger Selection Series only to be beaten, in some of the most closely fought Louis Vuitton racing ever, by the eventual winners of the America’s Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand.
With the America’s Cup returning to New Zealand in 2021 and a new class of yacht introduced in the form of the foiling monohull AC75 class, Sweden sat out the event but in the meantime, Artemis Technologies was born, led by CEO and double Olympic Gold Medallist Iain Percy from the United Kingdom. Artemis Technologies founded the Belfast Maritime Consortium with a stated goal of: “Leading the decarbonisation of the maritime industry & maritime transport.”
Artemis Technologies quickly developed and have been at the forefront of foiling technology helping Nordic teams with simulator technology and a deep-technical experience in foiling craft. Torbjörn Törnqvist saw the opportunity early to bring the next generation of foiling talent in Sweden to the forefront of world sailing and commit Artemis Technologies’ support to the sailors saying: “I am thrilled about creating opportunities for our young, incredibly talented Swedish sailors to take another step forward. By collaborating with Artemis Technologies, we can leverage their cutting-edge expertise and invaluable experience to enhance our performance on the water. I truly believe we are creating a platform of the highest standard, capable of going all the way. Inclusivity and gender equality in our sport is so right. And I am particularly excited about the Artemis Pathway programme that will give young girls and boys the opportunity to experience foiling and, in some cases, launch exciting professional careers.”
Torbjörn’s words were echoed by Iain Percy, himself a seasoned America’s Cup campaigner saying: “We are delighted to be powering the Swedish Challenge in this milestone year with the inaugural Women’s America’s Cup. It is fantastic to bring the Artemis team back together, combining our expertise and experience to support these talented sailors.”
One of the key triggers to the decision for Artemis Technologies to support the Swedish Team has been the rise of Olympian Anna Östling’s ‘WINGS’ Match Racing Team that has been competing on the international circuit. Alongside fellow Swedish sailors Annie Wennergren, Marie Berg, Linnéa Wennergren, Annika Carlunger, the team has been hotly contesting the number one ranking over the last few years and Anna is excited about the pathway opening up for female athletes in the America’s Cup saying: “As a female sailor, I am proud to be a part of a campaign that emphasises gender equality and encourages the participation of young talent. Artemis Technologies’ support not only enhances our chances of success but also paves the way for future female sailors to excel. This partnership is a testament to their commitment to empowering women in maritime.”
No stranger to the competition, Sweden first challenged for the America’s Cup in 1977 with an innovative 12-Metre yacht that featured pedal-powered below-decks grinders (we call them ‘cyclors’ today) and tiller steering. Famous international yachtsman and 6-Metre World Champion Pelle Petersen led the team through both the 1977 challenge and another in 1980 where they re-used their yacht ‘Sverige’ having cut 20 feet off the bow and installing what became known as the double-knuckle profile.
With such innovation and deep-thinking also translating into sail and rig design, the economic downturn in 1980 sadly precluded the ‘Sverige’ team from continuing into the 1983 regatta but they were back in the America’s Cup in both 2003 and 2007 with the impressive ‘Victory’ challenge started by businessman Jan Stenbeck and continued by his son Hugo Stenbeck after Jan’s death in 2002 represented Gamla Stans Yacht Sällskap. The team even attracted sponsorship from Red Bull for the 2007 regatta in Valencia, Spain.
Sweden is back in the America’s Cup and with the might of Artemis Technologies behind them could well be a hot tip to go all the way in the Youth & PUIG Women’s America’s Cups in Barcelona in 2024. However, the competition is set to be fierce with twelve national teams now confirmed to compete in the strictly one-design AC40 foiling monohulls that are proving to be sensational to sail and more than capable of hitting speeds into the high 40 knot bracket – 50 knots has already been exceeded in a fast bear-away at the windward mark.