The final phase of the Youth & Women’s America’s Cup selection process for Alinghi Red Bull Racing took place in Barcelona this week.
Aside from sailing evaluations, performance tests and other simulations for the 20 candidates, the schedule featured other key learning experiences like Wednesday’s visit to the official stadium for the women’s team, Estadi Johan Cruyff and the practice facility of FC Barcelona, la Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.
Eight sailors visited with the players of Barça Femení at their training center. FC Barcelona are the reigning titleholders of the Women’s Champions League and currently sit top of the table in Spain’s Liga F. The team’s roster features eight members of the Spanish World Cup-winning side including global stars Alexia Putellas, Aitana Bonmatí and Mariona Caldentey among them.
Candidates for the final Alinghi Red Bull Racing Youth & Women’s America’s Cup roster had the opportunity to meet with the players, exchange ideas about competing at the highest level on the global stage and talk about the impressive growth of women’s football and women’s sports overall during the past few years.
“As an elite athlete, you have an understanding of how much work they put in and being at the top of their game all year round winning those matches, so just a huge amount of respect to them,” said Anja von Allmen, an Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailor who earned her “boarding pass” after trials and thereby direct selection to the Swiss Youth & Women’s America’s Cup team.
“The field of play for football and sailing is certainly much different but there are some qualities that we share as athletes. In sailing, we always have to adjust to the variables of the conditions, the changing winds like a football team having to face different opponents. There will always be different styles and you figure out how to deal with that,” said von Allmen.
Members of the sailing team briefed players about their on-going selection trials and highlighted the America’s Cup atmosphere already building at the marina area of Port Vell. They also invited Barcelona players to the Alinghi Red Bull Racing team base for a reciprocal visit.
“It has been very enriching to have the opportunity to exchange experiences with the Alinghi Red Bull Racing women’s team,” said forward Esmee Brugts, “Even though football and sailing are two very different sports, we have been able to share that the key to success is in professionalization and in enjoying our own structure dedicated to the team.”
For von Allmen, the visit was one of the high points of a busy week with the team that earned her a berth on the Alinghi Red Bull Racing Women’s America’s Cup team along with Arno de Planta, who earned a “boarding pass” to the Youth America’s Cup with his performance throughout trials.
“I am so honoured and proud to earn a boarding pass and spot with Alinghi Red Bull Racing for next year’s Women’s America’s Cup,” said von Allmen. “If you had told me 10 years ago that little Anja would have this chance, I would have said, ‘What, no way!’ But it’s possible, anyone can do it.”
The Alinghi Red Bull Racing selection trials for the Youth & Women’s America’s Cup teams finish up on Friday. The final team roster announcement is expected in 10 days.