It can seem a long way from a spot on a Red Bull Youth America's Cup crew to joining the defending champion ORACLE TEAM USA sailing team.
But Cooper Dressler found there's a tried and true short-cut - hard work.
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From Coronado, California, Cooper, sailed in the inaugural Red Bull Youth America's Cup with the American Youth Sailing Force.
"I first started with ORACLE TEAM USA in the summer of 2014. I did a bit of everything, odd jobs, and eventually I moved into the rigging department," he says.
"After about six months in Bermuda, Jimmy and Tom tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a shot at sailing with the guys in the two-boat program. I think they just noticed I was working hard and had the right attitude.
"It was a bit of a trial by fire. The first time I was on the sport boat it was as a guest. You just hang on and try not to get hosed off the boat. I'll never forget the first bear away we did when the boat popped up on the foils - a huge adrenalin rush - an unforgettable experience."
Growing up in Southern California, Cooper spent much of his time from a young age in the ocean - surfing, sailing, and kiteboarding. A strong competitor in multiple dinghy classes, he soon became hooked on sailing high performance skiffs, racing internationally in the 29er, 49er, I-14 and 18 foot skiffs.
It was while completing his degree at the University of California Santa Cruz, that Cooper joined the American Youth Sailing Force, a group of young Americans training to race AC45's in the 2013 Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. They went on to finish fifth overall out of 10. "Being exposed to that level of sailing had a huge impact on me, and I realized that I wanted to pursue the sport professionally."
Just two months after graduating, Cooper quit his job with a geotechnical engineering firm to sail full-time. He raced briefly in the 49er as a member of the US Sailing Development Team before turning his attention toward larger boats. It was during this time that he landed a job with ORACLE TEAM USA in San Francisco.
Working part-time at first, through hard work and persistence, Cooper has earned an invitation to become the team's newest sailing team member.
And did we mention his positive attitude?
“The biggest thing that gets me going about this team is it’s a great group of people. It’s one of the most awesome sports teams in the world. And, I think what really gets me going is how stoked everyone is going to be when we win this thing and defend the Cup."