Ricardo Pinto/ America’s Cup/ Red Bull
Skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn went onboard the foiling AC45 catamaran of the America’s Cup champion
The American skier was invited by Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill (AUS) and took over the grinder position as the boat flew on the Hudson River, in front of the Statue of Liberty.
The AC45 boats can sail at up to 41 knots (70 km/h / 45 mph) – faster than the speed limit on Manhattan streets.
“I was nervous because I did not want to mess up,” said Vonn. “But then as I got comfortable, I started asking to do more things to challenge myself. I got to do some grinding and I put the foils down. You can tell visually that you are rising out of the water on the foils. An incredible experience.”
This was a preview of the America’s Cup racing that’s coming to New York Harbor this weekend for the first time in almost a century. The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series starts on Saturday, featuring the world’s best sailors, racing the fastest boats, in front of the city that never sleeps.
A two-time America’s Cup winner, Spithill was impressed with Vonn’s performance. “She really had a fire to be a part of the team and wanted us to push her. She has a lot of power, and as a skipper, I felt comfortable giving her control of positions on the boat.”
Vonn, who won her 8th World Cup Downhill title earlier this year, is now in training for next season and enjoyed this new experience.
“Needing to be aware of what’s around you is a big similarity between sailing and skiing”, she said. “In both sports, we are analyzing wind, speed and race boundaries. People may not realize how many real-time adjustments these guys are making.”
Six teams, each sailing on behalf of a home country, will compete this weekend in the New York, vying for points that count towards the final competition for the 35th America´s Cup in Bermuda in 2017. Bermuda will also be the home of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, showcasing sailing young guns.