By Tom Webb
The America’s Cup is the competition for the oldest trophy in international sport and dates back to 1851.
The first-ever competition was held in the waters of the Solent, U.K., and saw the schooner America beat the best that Britain could put up, taking a trophy that was renamed in its honour back to the U.S., where it remained until 1983, the longest winning streak in sports history.
As of press time, the 35th America’s Cup has six teams participating in May and June 2017, when they will compete again for the America’s Cup in Bermuda.
Only four nations have ever won the America’s Cup — the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland — confirming the status of the America’s Cup as one of the greatest challenges in all of sport.
The defending champion is ORACLE TEAM USA, who first won the America’s Cup in 2010 and successfully defended the title in 2013. Six teams from all over the world, including ORACLE TEAM USA, signed up to take on the challenge again in 2017. The teams represent the U.K. (Land Rover BAR), France (Groupama Team France), New Zealand (Emirates Team New Zealand), Sweden (Artemis Racing) and Japan (SoftBank Team Japan).
The 35th America’s Cup is held in May and June 2017 on the Great Sound of Bermuda, but preceding that were a series of preliminary events, collectively known as the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, which took place at selected venues in 2015 and 2016. The final event of the series was in Japan, staging an America’s Cup event on Japanese waters for the first time; and those regattas were raced in AC45F class boats, a one-design catamaran powered by a wingsail with hydrofoils that helps the boats fly above the water, sailed by a crew of five supreme athletes at the top of their game.
In 2017, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers and Challenger Playoffs, as well as the America’s Cup Match presented by Louis Vuitton, are raced in the new America’s Cup Class (ACC) boats — extremely fast, foiling, wing-sailed catamarans, manned by a crew of six and capable of flying over the water faster than the wind which powers them.
The 2017 America’s Cup is one of the year’s greatest sporting spectacles. It is the oldest trophy in international sport, and the battles that lie ahead are not to be missed.