The America’s Cup is the most prestigious yachting race in the world with two of the best sailing teams from around the world competing for the Cup. Held every few years, the race is a test of speed, design, tactics, agility and a man’s knowledge of the elements around him. As the sailors are completely reliant on their knowledge of the water and wind, the members of each team are some of the best yachtsmen in the world.
The race also holds two records in sporting history, one as owning the oldest trophy in international sports and the other as the sport with the longest winning streak in history. Founded in 1851, the originally named Royal Yacht Squadron Cup was won solely by the New York Yacht Club between 1857 and 1983. This amazing conquest was broken in 1983 when the challenger Australia II from the Royal Perth Yacht Club smashed the Club 4-3.
The regatta is a challenge driven series of match races before the final winning challenger competes the defender in a two hour sea battle. The yachts used in the races must adhere to the International America’s Cup Class sloops which requires boats to be 75 foot long. Since 1970, the race has become an international hit with several challengers from around the world making the trip to one of the host cities to try and claim victory.
In the same year that Australia gained victory for the first time, Louis Vuitton also became involved by sponsoring the Louis Vuitton Cup prize for the winner of the series. This sponsorship saw the race elevate into the elite category of sport even after the sponsorship ended in 2007. Throughout the years, many spectators have believed the race to be a test of speed however the race is also about boat design, sail design, fundraising and management skills, which is why the race is so hard to win.
Winning the race requires a huge amount of team effort from the 17 crew members on board as they need to be able to steer in the best wind conditions and block the opponents. This is not an easy task as your yacht needs to be in front and in control to place yourself between the opponent and the next mark.
The boat is navigated by using a digital readout on the mast which indicates the boat’s heading and speed and wind direction and speed. The race also consists of penalties which are issued by the umpire and force the boat to execute a circle before crossing the finish line.
There are three key segments to the America’s Cup, starting with the pre-start which consists of the five minute countdown to the start gun. This is followed by the first leg of the race between the starting gun and the first mark in the race. The remainder of the race is considered the "rest" which begins after the first mark of the race to when the boats cross the finishing line.
The actual cup is an ornate sterling silver bottomless ewer crafted in 1848 by Garrard & Co. The ewer was donated to the Royal Yacht Squadron’s 1851 Annual Regatta around the Isle of Wight by Henry William Paget from the 1st Marquess of Anglesey. The cup was originally known as the R.Y.S. 100 pound Cup. Australia and New Zealand have been lucky enough to compete in twelve America’s Cups and have won three of the races in 1983, 1995 and 2000.
Another fantastic feature of the America’s Cup is the betting options available from online bookmakers. Punters and yachting enthusiasts have the option of betting on the winning team or even the finishing times of each team. There is plenty of money to be won in these races with some punters putting down $8,000 on their favourite team to win and receiving enormous payouts when they win! So if you are certain that your boat will win or if you just want to add some more excitement to the race, check out the odds available on the race and you could be very happy at the end of the day!
America’s Cup Team members:
- Grinders are the muscles of the boat and are responsible for turning the handles which are connected to the complex hydraulic systems. The energy created from these systems is used to get either the sails or men up the masts and to trim the main sails, genoa (sail at the front of the boat) and spinnaker (the big "parachute" sail flown in front of the boat).
- The helmsman is responsible for steering the yacht during the race and relies on the other crew members to inform him where to steer.
- The tactician is responsible for focusing on the other boat and relaying information to the helmsman about the other boat.
- The strategist is responsible for looking at the bigger picture of the race tactics and determines the overall strategy used during the race.
- Without a navigator, the boat would not know what their position in the water is or how much distance is left to sail.
- The person raised up on the mast uses their extra height advantage to find puffs on wind on the water from far away and then relays this information to the helmsman who will then steer the boat towards this windy area.
- The bowman is positioned on the front bow and as the boat approaches the starting line he tells the other team members the distance remaining to the starting line. He will convey this information either by radio or with hand signals to ensure that the boat is at the correct speed when the start gun fires.
- The men in charge of handling the ropes/lines are responsible for controlling the main lines for the sails called sheets. These ropes control how much of the sail is pulled in along the centre-line of the boat.
2007 Alinghi, Switzerland
2003 Alinghi, Switzerland
2000 Team New Zealand
1995 Black Magic New Zealand
1992 America 3 USA
1988 America USA
1987 Stars and Stripes USA
1983 Australia II
1980 Freedom USA
1977 Courageous USA
1974 Courageous USA
1970 Intrepid USA