In part one of our blog on the America’s Cup we saw that warm up editions of the race were being held more frequently, this is to keep sailors, sponsors and fans happy. But the main reason is to keep the event in the fore of media attention. There are so many international competitions, that to stay ahead of other sports the America’s Cup has realized that it cannot compete only racing sporadically. Also changes to the race are constantly going on to keep it attractive and good for TV.
One of the big changes has been the size of the boats, and at around forty-five feet long, the current catamarans used for racing are the smallest crafts ever to have competed in this old and prestigious competition. Having said all this, they are also the fastest and some are capable of speeds of 40 knots or greater.
Why the America’s Cup
Some might think it strange that a race first organized by the Royal Yacht Squadron and taking place off the shores of Great Britain was called the America’s Cup. The inaugural race in 1851 was won by a schooner named America, and the authorities decided that afterwards the competition should be named after the winning boat. The cup was also donated to the New York Yacht Club with the condition it would be made available for any subsequent races that took place in the future. The Deed of Gift agreement states that any yacht club that can meet the terms and conditions set out in the agreement has the right to challenge the club that is retaining the trophy. If this club that is challenging subsequently wins, then it takes over stewardship of the cup.
Winners and Holders
Not only are top sailors and yacht designers attracted to the America’s Cup, it is also such a prestigious event that big sponsors are only happy to have their names associated with it. The competition has true international glamour and is held in some of the most fantastic destinations on the planet. In the early years from 1857 right up to 1983 the trophy was held by the New York Yacht Club, this old famous yacht club successfully defended and won the trophy twenty-four times in succession. The Australian club, the Royal Perth Yacht Club wrestled the dominance away from New York and their boat Australia II ended the longest winning run in the history of any sport.
Up to 1967 the race was always between just two teams, the challenger and the defender. But in 1970 it was agreed that there could be multiple challengers, but New York specified that they would have to race against each other for the right to compete head to head with them.
Since 1983 the most prestigious yacht race in the world has been sponsored by fashion house Louis Vuitton, and today the challengers cup is known as the Louis Vuitton Cup. The yachts we see racing today are multi-hull crafts, of which the current holder owned by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will be defending its title in 2021.