Local Sailor Prepares to Race in Youth America's Cup

Panama City, FL---Call it the opportunity of a lifetime that awaits Mosley grad Mathew Whitehead, who's also an alum of the St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club.

Come early September, Matt will be part of Oracle Team USA as it competes in the first ever Red Bull Youth America's Cup!

That will continue a sailing career that began when Whitehead was just a child.

"I first learned how to sail when I was 8 or 9" down here at the Yacht Club. And I started racing when I was 14." Matt says.

He started out on 18 foot Catamaran's, and with his teammate, Rutherford's Taylor Reiss. And in fact those two together won the Junior World Championships in the F/18 class. Whitehead's age and skills then led him to USA45's tryouts.

"We went and tried out last fall, and we got the announcement that we made the spot last December. And then we've kind of just been training on our own, because we're kind of scattered throughout the country, the team."

Matt and the other team members though have gathered this week again in San Fran, for what's going to be very intense training leading up to September's races!

"The training, it's pretty intense, the boat's are really, really physical. A lot more than I'm used to. So a lot of time in the gym getting stronger, bigger. And this summer it's gonna be a lot of sailing, four or five days a week, And the probably in the gym, four or five days a week as well."

That training, both on the boat and in the gym is so critical because racing at this level is complex.

"There's a lot that's going on on the boat, a lot that needs to be done. There's six of us that sail at a time and every one of us is working full on the whole time we're sailing."

Matt knows though the extra work, the extra training will all be worth.

"It's all for something I love. I mean as much as it's gonna hurt, and as grueling as it's gonna be, it's gonna pay off in the end. And we're gonna work as hard as we can so we can win. Because that's really the ultimate goal, to win the event."

Whitehead, who was at the St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club this weekend for a fundraiser, will continue training with the Oracle team through much of the summer. The soon to be junior at the University of South Florida says he'll take a break from training to race in Turkey with some of his teammates there in a race designed for smaller catamarans.

Then it's back to California and the Youth America's Cup which takes place September 1st and 4th in San Francisco Bay.