Young sailors from around the world gathered in the America’s Cup press conference room this morning ahead of the start of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup on Monday.
Taking the stage for Team BDA was skipper (and cousin to this very proud reporter) Mackenzie Cooper.
“We’re very proud to represent Bermuda and it’s very evident as the cup has gotten closer and we’ve been out on the water that all of Bermuda is behind us, and I think that’s really special,” Cooper told the assembled media. “It doesn’t matter if you have a sailing background or any type of background, Bermuda loves to get behind Bermuda, and we really feel that and we think that’s a big factor for us coming up this week that we know we’re going to have that support out there and that’s a great feeling. We can’t wait.”
I caught up with him shortly after for a brief Q&A.
The commentary around the family is “boy into a man.” Do you feel that?
A little bit, yeah. It’s such a good opportunity it’s hard to really put into words at times. But yeah, definitely a growing experience as a sailor and a person I think.
Has it hit you yet?
Yeah I think today we started seeing all the teams coming together… we’ve obviously been training with our six, but then you see all the teams and it starts to hit a little bit but we’re going to wake up tomorrow morning and just try not to think too hard about the moment and just really focus on the boat and the race course.
You’ve had a good chance to sized up the competition. Who are you looking at?
Everyone’s had their moments, and that’s the thing with such a little amount of time sailing these boats, it’s hard to be way better than anyone else, but the Kiwi guys have clearly done a nice job in preparing. But really I think anyone on their game can win.
Including Bermuda?
Absolutely. 100%. We’ve seen in the training that when we sail the boat well, and put it in the right place on the course, without a doubt we can beat any of the teams out here.
How did Practice 2 go yesterday?
Yesterday was a tough day. We were in the Little Sound with some shifty, tough conditions using the Code Zero which we hadn’t before, so maybe not our best day if you look at our results, but a really good day for learning and getting better knowing that we might have to face these conditions on Monday and Tuesday.
So what’s happening between now and 5pm tomorrow?
We’ll have a debriefing from the past couple days of training, making sure our bodies are right, go to the physio or get a massage, and then just getting focussed and getting ready to race knowing that we’ve put in all the time and we just need to go out there and do it now. There’s nothing else we can do.
Are you going to sleep tonight?
Oh, absolutely.