America’s Cup is coming home

15 02 2010

Even if you are not a sailor, you have to feel some sense of patriotism surrounding the America’s Cup.  Our country sailing against those from other countries for the most coveted trophy in sailing, or at least that’s how it started.

The 33rd running of the America’s Cup(the Cup) has just wrapped up and the team representing the USA has once again captured the cup.  This was not an easy accomplishment due to the team and leader who was holding the Cup, Team Alinghi and Ernesto Bertarelli.  Mr. Bertarelli(Ernie) tied this duel up in courts for years, ultimately making it a joke and doing more damage to the event and history and pure sport of sailing than any person in recent history(sounds like a politician).  The match was actually sailed in very unconventional vessels than history recall, multi hulls.  More on that later, let me tell you about the history.

In 1851, John Stevens formed a syndicate to build a boat intended to race in europe, actually to raise money for the young New York Yacht Club(NYYC).  Later in the same year the team sailed against 15 other  yachts from the Royal Yacht squadron(RYS) in their annual race around the Isle of Wight.  The yacht which was named America handily won prompting Queen Victoria to ask who finished second upon which the famous reply was stated “Ah, your majesty, there is no second”.  The auld mug, the trophy which is built of sterling silver was originally known as the 100 Guinea cup, a measure of the cost to build I believe, a guinea was equal to 1 pound and 1 shilling, was presented to the American’s who deeded it to the NYYC as an international match named the America’s Cup.
The Cup and the match are the oldest active trophy in international sport, predating the modern olympics.  From 1851-1983 it was held by the NYYC and was the longest winning streak in the history of sport.  In 1983, the Australians won the Cup with a radically designed keel.  The USA did win the cup back in 1987 and ultimately lost it again this time to New Zealand.  The only other country to hold the Cup and  most recently has been Switzerland.  Many other countries have challenged including: Great Britain, France, Italy, China, Spain, Canada and others.  Finally in 2010, just this week, the USA has regained the cup by winning the 33rd racing of the America’s Cup.

12 Meters in the dial up, pre race dance

The boats have always been leading edge and have had many forms.  The sailors use design rules led by the Deed of Gift to come up with the vessels and the history shows 3 designs that were used most often over the years.  The J Class boats were the biggest and they were used in the 1930’s, classic beautiful boats.  Only a handful survive today due to neglect and world wars.  Between 1956 and 1987, the 12 Meter class ruled.  A smaller boat brought around after the second world war that was viewed as more affordable, they were built first out of wood then aluminum and one or two out of fiberglass.  1992 brought in the new International America’s Cup class which was the choice through 2007.  In 2010, with the help of some very shrewd lawyers(they don’t mix with sailing as sport) the cup was held in multi hulls.

BMW Oracle

These multi hulls are very non traditional in the Cup which has been predominantly sailed in mono hulls(one hull).  However odd it seemed, it was fascinating to see as maneuverability on these things are not good but speed is incredible.  They were over 90 feet long and the wing mast on BMW Oracle(USA) stood over 240 feet.  The trimaran(three hulls) sailed by USA was faster than the catamaran(two hulls) sailed by SWE and the team of BMW Oracle won the match 2-0(best of three).  Now that syndicate has to decide where to sail the 34th running of the Cup and what to sail it in.  Speculation now is pointing to San Fransisco Bay(home of the syndicates sponsor yacht club Golden Gate YC) and more traditional mono hulls.  This will also open the door for many more countries to contest for the greatest trophy in sport.  It has been mentioned that an Italian syndicate, Mascalzone Latino, will be the official challenger.

These great beasts with their leading edge technology that over time trickles down to us normal Joe sailors are beautiful to watch.  It will be a great opportunity to have it back on USA soil, perhaps have a chance to take the children out on the water and actually watch the next match, wouldn’t that be great?
The Cup is home, where it belongs.  Let’s hope we can keep it here.



4 responses

15 02 2010
dale lieffers

How much racing skill is involved vs big bucks to buy the best equipment?
Doesn’t get much play in the press.

15 02 2010

no it is the forgotton race, sad really when you look at the history and the great men and women who have been involved. they still had some great sailors but the boats were so radically different and so cutting edge it was a non event

17 06 2010

Hi there

The pic you showed of two yachts in dial up is actually of two IACC class boats, not 12 metres.

Cheers 🙂

23 06 2010

you are correct, my tag was wrong. Nice picture hope to see monohulls again in the Cup

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