I had no intentions of coming out to San Francisco for the 34th America’s Cup until I was introduced to ‘The Force’ and the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup by virtue of this YouTube video.

Russell Coutts created the RBYAC as the first ever-direct pathway to future America’s Cup careers for international youth sailors. The event pits ten international teams - each of which is made up of 100% actual nationals- against one another, for four days of high-octane fleet racing in AC45s during the first week of September.

After digging I learned that the guys in the ‘prison yard’ video are the American Youth Sailing Force, a 9-person team of under-23 year old US nationals, who earned one of two coveted US spots by beating six other American teams that competed in a trials event last November. They will represent the City of San Francisco and Oracle Team USA in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup.


Members of 'The Force' inspect their wing before the christening.

The last two lines in the video, by Team Manager Ian Andrewes, says a lot about this group of sailors:

“Now that we’re not affiliated with Oracle we don’t have access to the gym, we don’t have access to the trainers, and so we’re making the best of a bad situation.”

Their website describes a self-managed, blue-collar team of riggers, boat-builders and sail-makers out to prove that “anyone can compete on the elite international sailing circuit."

Around 8:00am last Friday, just 48-hours after settling into my apartment in Newport, RI, ‘The Force’ sent me a plane ticket to San Francisco. I was in the air six hours later.


After christening their AC45 'Dengus Khan', the AYSF is ready for the final three weeks of an 18-month journey.

I am documenting this prison yard gang and RBYAC life for the next three weeks.  Here is my first effort at it:

You can also learn more by visiting the American Youth Sailing Force website.

Read previous Digital Vagabond posts about the Tour de France a la Voile: