ACT 8 of the Extreme Sailing Series was not only the culmination of the 2016 Series for Weymouth sailor Neil Hunter; it was also his last in charge of Land Rover BAR Academy.

The 21-year-old has led the youth wing of Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR crew for the majority of this season, guiding them to fifth place on the leaderboard going into the Series showdown in Sydney.

But following the four-day event he handed over the reins of the youth crew after being called up to Ainslie’s senior squad preparing to contest the 35th America’s Cup.

Hunter said he owed the prestigious promotion in part to the experience he gained racing against some of the world’s top sailors in the Extreme Sailing Series.

Hunter on his senior team call-up: “It’s awesome – it’s what I’ve been working towards for months now.

“In the summer I was invited in to do some fitness tests for the senior team, and after that I was asked to carry out a trial period of two weeks.

“I did some sailing with the team and helped out around the base, which was a fantastic experience. The test boats are serious cool pieces of kit – they take sailing to a whole new level.

“I finally got the call up to say I was invited to join the team in Bermuda in January. It’s amazing and I’m really looking forward to it.

“One of the main goals of the Academy is to create the next generation of America’s Cup sailors and so for that goal to have been achieved within a year of the Academy forming is great.

I think it’s largely down to the work I’ve done with the Academy on the Extreme Sailing Series that I’ve been able to progress so quickly. I’ve learned so much being around the GC32 foiling boats.

“I’ve been involved with the Academy since March this year and since then it’s been non-stop work, in the gym and at events. I was named as skipper for the Cardiff event and that gave me even more responsibility.

“These guys in the Academy team will now see me going into the senior team and going America’s Cup sailing in Bermuda, and that’s going to show them that it’s possible and push them to work harder. They’re going to want it to be them next.”

Land Rover BAR sailing manager Jono Macbeth praised Hunter’s development since the Academy announced it was entering a youth team in the Extreme Sailing Series to develop young British sailing talent.

“Neil is hardworking, incredibly fit and willing to learn,” Macbeth said. “We had a vision for this type of promotion to happen within the Land Rover BAR Academy, but none of us expected it to happen this quickly.

“Neil can be a great asset for the team, not just this time round but also into the future.”

Rob Andrews, manager of Land Rover BAR Academy, added: “The Land Rover BAR Academy is not even a year old, but the Sydney event marks the end of our first full season of competition.

“We have made great progress towards our initial goal of winning races, and ultimately winning events.

“We are set up for an exciting 2017, where the Land Rover BAR Academy boys and girls will compete not only in the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series but also the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup.”