Even those people who are not aware of sailing competitions would have heard of the famous America’s Cup. In fact, it is the oldest international sporting competition in the world. The America’s cup was fist held in 1851 around the Isle of Wight, off the shores of the United Kingdom – quite a contradiction, seeing how English people prefer to give their hearts to another water sport, but there’s a reason to this proverbial madness.
The most unusual fact about the America’s Cup is that whoever wins it gets to choose the location for the next race. It is a bit like having a goal start in a soccer match as it is rather a big advantage. The competition is sometimes referred to as the Auld Mug as this is a reflection on the trophy itself, an awesome silver jug that stands just over a meter high and weighs 14 kilograms.
The original trophy was made by a London company, Robert Garrard & Company. The company was actually the royal jeweler at the time and had been since 1735 during King George II reign, and was fashioned as an ornamental claret jug. The cup is actually taller today as it has had two additions to its pedestal to accommodate the recent winners’ names. The original wooden base has been replaced by a more modern and stronger carbon fiber one, but it is still kept in a secure place.
When the Auld Mug travels from location to location it is like royalty. It has its own Louis Vuitton designer trunk and always travels First Class. When it is displayed at regattas it is always flanked by two security guards and nobody is allowed to touch it.
The America’s Cup World Series
The actual America’s Cup race is only between two crafts, and the common sight in the media of a flotilla of competing yachts are actually competing in the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS). This is sort of the knockout rounds where the challengers race each other for the space that is left to race the defender for the actual trophy. The ACWS is a series of events comprising of four races held over a weekend on a Saturday and Sunday. The racing on the second day is worth double points. The event comprises two round robin events, so that every team race against each other.
The four top teams then go forward to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Playoffs, then semifinals to the actual final itself. The most prestigious yacht race in the world decides the eventual winner, namely the America’s Cup Race. The America’s Cup used to be raced every couple of years, but over the years both the sailors and the fans demanded more action on a regular basis. So for the past decade and a half there have been warm up events to keep everybody happy.
Sponsors also prefer the new set up, and this is beneficial to the sport as the money keeps rolling in. These warm up events have taken on more importance as there are points up for grabs towards the ACWS. Of course, there have been complaints from traditionalists that these extra new events are a way of milking the sport, but in a world full of alternative entertainment the America’s Cup must stay in vogue.