A Look at The America's Cup in Bermuda

Posted October 19, 2015 in Travel by Janine St.Denis

The 35th running of the America’s Cup will take place in June 2017 in Bermuda. Like the last competition, teams will use foiling catamarans, although a little smaller at 62-feet long, but just as challenging to sail and just as exciting to watch.

Challenging for or defending the America’s Cup, the oldest sporting trophy in the world, has always been a pursuit for the very wealthy. However, in recent decades, those costs had begun to really spiral out of control. It is rumored that Larry Ellison spent $400 million to challenge for and ultimately win the Cup from Alinghi in Valencia, Spain, in 2010, in a trimaran; rumors say a further $300 million was spent in 2013 to successfully defend the Cup in San Francisco.

Yacht in the America's Cup

It had become clear that if you had the money and the inclination, you could “buy” the Cup by simply outspending your rivals, hiring the best talent in designers and sailors, using the most exotic materials to build several boats, and testing to find the strongest, lightest and fastest yacht. But in 2017, things will be different. New rules are in place to limit the cost and even the playing field, which, in turn, has and will encourage more teams to take up the challenge.

So far Team Artimis Racing from Sweden, Land Rover BAR from Great Britain, Emirates Team New Zealand, Groupama Team France, and Team Japan have signed up to challenge the defender, Oracle Team USA.

Certainly, Team Artemis Racing is one to watch and renowned watchmaker Ulysse Nardin has taken notice, teaming up with the Swedish Challenger for the 35th America’s Cup as an official partner. Watchmaking and high-performance sailing both have exceptional heritages filled with rich inspiration; they utilize innovative technology to the highest possible standards. Together with Ulysse Nardin, Team Artemis Racing aims to employ its exceptional prowess to bring home the Cup in 2017. “It is an honor for Ulysse Nardin to enter into a cooperation with Artemis Racing,” says CEO of Ulysse Nardin Patrik Hoffmann. “Ulysse Nardin’s history of navigating the sea paired with the DNA of innovation and technology, which is firmly established in both companies, makes this partnership a perfect match.

When meeting the Artemis engineers, technicians and craftsmen at their base in San Francisco, I quickly realized that the spirit of passion and innovation is the driving force behind this extraordinary team.”

The man at the helm of Team Artemis Racing is Manager and Skipper Iain Percy. “The America’s Cup is synonymous with style, technology, design and prestige, however the new breed of foiling-wing sailed catamarans is asking far more from us as designers, engineers and sailors than ever before,” he says. “This cycle and the future of our sport is about original thinking, developing new materials, and pushing the boundaries of what we understand about yacht design and racing. With Ulysse Nardin, we are lucky to have found a partner that shares our values, our passion for teamwork, our desire to innovate and an ambition to lead in our respective fields. We look forward to sharing this adventure together over the next three years and beyond.” Percy is a double Olympic and multiple world champion; one of the most talented and successful sailors in the world. He will be integral in leading the charge for Team Artemis Racing in this exciting upcoming series.

In this 2017 round, smaller, one-design AC45-class cats will engage in a series of regattas in several different venues throughout the next two years. The first of these World Series events took place in Portsmouth in the United Kingdom from July 23—26, 2015; three races were held. August saw three more races in Gothenburg, Sweden, the native land of Team Artemis Racing, from August 27—30, 2015 and Bermuda will host three more races October 16—18, 2015.

Another six to eight venues will be announced for next year and then the teams begin to practice in the AC62s, which will be launched early 2017. Points accrued in the AC45 series of races will count towards the Louis Vuitton elimination series. This is all quite convoluted, but for those of you who would like to read the rules, you can find them on the America’s Cup site.

There is a handy app that you can download to your phone for further clarification and to keep up to date. The races will be streamed live on the official website and will be found on the America’s Cup YouTube channel.

With all of this information on the race accessible, one question still remains: Why exactly do we call this international race with international players the America’s Cup? The Hundred Guinea Cup was offered by the Royal Yacht Squadron for a yacht race around the Isle of Wight in 1851. The yacht AMERICA was commissioned by a syndicate of New York Yacht Club (NYYC) members for this race, who handily beat all of the other 14 yachts entered to take the Cup. The Cup was renamed the America’s Cup (in honor of the yacht, not the country) and was donated to the NYYC under a Deed of Gift to be a perpetual trophy for friendly competition between nations. Early races were run with yachts between 60 and 90 feet on the waterline, culminating in the J-Class series of Vanderbilt, Sopwith and Lipton fame.

Sailing yacht at the America's Cup

The yachts had to be built in the home country of the challenger, and their yachts had to be sufficiently strong to cross the Atlantic. The defending NYYC could build a much lighter yacht to defend and did so. In 1970, after the switch to the more affordable 12-meter class, there were multiple challengers and an elimination series, sponsored by Louis Vuitton, was set up to determine the fastest of the challengers to take on the defender. Nevertheless, the NYYC successfully defended this trophy for 132 years until 1983 when Alan Bond took it to Australia. Only four countries have held the Cup: the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Switzerland.

Many have likened the excitement of yacht racing to watching paint dry or grass grow with some justification. But this changed in San Francisco in 2013. With boundaries to the racecourse, a simple windward leeward course, huge wing-sailed catamarans flying above the water at nearly 40 knots, supported only by a foil about the size of a surfboard, and superb camerawork from on board and overhead, the sport has been transformed for the spectator into a “can’t-miss” event, which we look forward to following until its sure-to-be exciting culmination in 2017.

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