Thursday, 23 May 2013

Red Bull Youth America's Cup : Team Tilt History

by Anne Hinton

It would be a mistake to think that Team Tilt did not exist before the Red Bull Youth America's Cup came along. What changed most particularly with the advent of the Red Bull Youth America's Cup competition was to place the emphasis in Team Tilt on youth sailing.

Tilt, a Psaros 40, wins the monohull division of the Bol d'Or in 2004. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved

Back in 2004, the Psarofaghis family won the Bol d'Or for the monohulls in a Psaros 40, designed by Seb Schmidt (also designer of the D35), named Tilt. The Psarofaghis family have been extensively connected with fast sailing boats the world over (look at their forays into Moths, for example) and always at the top of the competition.

A large youthful contingent of Team Tilt on stage at prizegiving at the Societe Nautique de Geneve with Commodore Pierre Yves Firmenich following this monohull win in 2004. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved

Youth sailing had been growing up for years in Geneva, with the implementation of training in a local club following the formation of the Regatta Training Centre (CER). One of the early trainers at this Centre was Julien di Biase, a former winner of both the Bol d'Or and the Geneva Match Race, now Team Manager with ORACLE TEAM USA, while another now manages both the RC44 and D35 circuits.

This encouragement of youth sailing around Geneva has been extended to include youth participation on the Tour de France a la Voile and lead-up circuit (Ville de Geneve boat). Lionel Vaucher, grinder for Team Tilt, won the amateur category of the Tour de France a la Voile on this boat in 2012, in which the skipper was Lucien Cujean, now skipper of Team Tilt.

Young teams are now appearing in the D35, with Jerome Clerc skippering Realstone Sailing, coached by Arnaud Psarofaghis, and Realstone Sailing also competing in the Extreme 40 this year. Arnaud, aged just 24 himself, a sail designer, also coached Team Tilt's successful campaign to enter the Red Bull Youth America's Cup in which they took out the event held in San Francisco to qualify in first place last year.

The Psarofaghis family are still actively sailing in the youthful Team Tilt. Mikis Psarofaghis, aged 23, a boat builder, is bowman on Team Tilt and has won the Moth European Championships, finished 17th in the World Championships, and third in the Swiss Championships. Arnaud, Team Tilt coach, is the 2008 and 2009 Moth European Champion, won the Alinghi Swiss Tour when he was just 17, and sails professionally with Energy Team on the AC45 and competes in the Extreme 40s, so has excellent first hand experience with the boats to pass on to the youth sailors.

The full Team Tilt squad consists of Lucien Cujean (skipper, aged 23), Jocelyn Keller (tactician, aged 18), Thomas Mermod (trimmer, aged 23), Lionel Vaucher (grinder, aged 22), Jeremy Bachelin (wingsail trimmer, aged 19), Jonas Schagen (grinder, aged 23), Mikis Psarofaghis (bowman, aged 22) and reserve candidate Sebastien Schneiter. Their coaches are Arnaud Psarofaghis (aged 24) and Laurent Voiron (French Tornado sailor, 4th in the Athens Olympics), with Matt Cooper (aged 49) as team positioning and development manager (from a background of coaching to peak performance in European and World Cup Alpine skiing alongside his own recreational performance sailing).

The Swiss Team Tilt, very professionally organized, with good sponsorship and campaigning with the youth squad on a number of fronts in Switzerland in addition to the D35 and Extreme 40 racing, will definitely be a force to be reckoned with at the Red Bull Youth America's Cup in San Francisco this summer.

Team Tilt
Red Bull Youth America's Cup