In the run down to Christmas, it has been a hive of activity as usual for Emirates Team New Zealand, not least of which has been the turn of some of New Zealand’s top female sailors to integrate with the team and stake their respective claims for the available positions of the Emirates Team New Zealand Women’s America’s Cup team.


The sailors come from a range of disciplines with Olympic medals and World Championships a plenty.

“There's no age restriction on the Puig Women's America's Cup, so we've tried to gather the best females from within New Zealand sailing and we're really excited to see the diverse group of people with different skills come together and create a really strong team,” explained Josh Junior who is managing the weeks trials and part of the selection panel.

“We're looking for sailors who can sail the AC40 accurately and creating a women’s team that can really work together and gel. But it is also important that we want them to feel like they're part of our team and to embrace every aspect of that.”

The four-day trial compromised of a large amount of time on the AC40 simulator in different crew configurations between the four positions driving and trimming combinations, as well as learning about the different systems and software required to sail the AC40.

“The more I learn about these boats and the more we get to sail in the simulator, the more I realize that it's just like a regular sailing boat, but with a lot more buttons,” said trialist Celia Willison when talking about the AC40, the boat that will be used in the Puig Women’s America’s Cup and recently named World Sailings ‘Boat of the Year’.

“All the team have been around helping us out, coaching, giving  us tips, and we had the opportunity to do a bit of a challenge with using some of the data available from sensors on the boat. So, that was really cool to go through and learn exactly when and how these guys are pushing the buttons.”

The group also spent a day integrated with the team for an AC40 testing session on the Hauraki Gulf getting first-hand experience on the on-water operations which are a critical part of any campaign.

We're obviously all learning a lot. We all come from different boats but none of that's really similar to this, so we’re all on an even playing field and learning together, so it is quite collaborative,” explained Gemma Jones.

Jones is but one of the impressive 8 women sailors on trial this week, all of whose achievements speak for themselves.

  • Alexandra Maloney                   49er FX world champion and Olympic silver medallist
  • Erica Dawson                           Tokyo Olympics Nacra- 12th + campaigning for Paris 2024
  • Jo Aleh                                     Olympic Gold & Silver medals in 470 class
  • Molly Meech                            49er FX world champion and Olympic silver medallist
  • Olivia Mackay                          World Champion Red Bull Foiling Generation
  • Gemma Jones                         Nacra 17 Rio Olympics 2016- 4th
  • Celia Willison                           Helm of the team currently 1st in the Women's WMRT
  • Veerle ten Have                       2021 & 2022 Wind foiling National Champion

Also, on trial this week has been Seb Menzies (420 World Champion / 2022 Moth National Champion) who missed the Youth trials in November.

“Overall it’s been super fun. A lot of experience on the sim and also on the game and getting used to not only trying to get round the course foiling, but also how to work together and communicate with each other," said Molly Meech emphasising the critical aspect of communication in successful sailing, herself a 49er FX World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist with fellow trialist Alex Maloney.

“This has been a huge eye opener to the world of The America’s Cup using numbers to sail and to learn how to trim off numbers and data.”

Like the selections for the Youth team, it will be a tough job for the selection panel to pick the final crew combination that will be competing for the Puig America’s Cup in Barcelona next year.

“It's really great for us to have these awesome sailors around. There's a lot of talented sailors around the world and the Puig Women’s America’s Cup is going to be an incredible event, and we just want this team to represent New Zealand with pride and go out there and of course win, as all of these sailors are well used to doing,” Josh Junior said.

The Women’s & Youth team Selection Panel are:

  • Josh Junior – Emirates Team New Zealand Sailor & Program Lead
  • Elise Beavis - Emirates Team New Zealand Performance and simulator
  • Kevin Shoebridge - Emirates Team New Zealand COO
  • Gillian Williams - RNZYS Vice Commodore
  • Suzanne McFadden - Award winning Sports Journalist and Founder of LockerRoom dedicated to women’s sport journalism
  • Polly Powrie - Olympic 470 Gold & Silver Medallist
  • Ray Davies - Emirates Team New Zealand Coach