The America’s Cup 2021 – The Challengers

In case you weren’t aware but yours truly is a person of the sea. I was raised on an island and cannot remember not knowing how to swim. Over the years, I also learned how to sail and have owned a sail boat. Needless to say I love watching the Summer Olympics boat races and every four years, the race for the America’s Cup which is the oldest international sporting trophy dating back to 1851.

The cup was originally awarded in 1851 by the Royal Yacht Squadron for a race around the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom, which was won by the schooner America. Originally known as the ‘R.Y.S. £100 Cup’, the trophy was renamed the ‘America’s Cup’ after the yacht and was donated to the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) under the terms of the Deed of Gift, which made the cup available for perpetual international competition.

Any yacht club that meets the requirements specified in the deed of gift has the right to challenge the yacht club that holds the cup. If the challenging club wins the match, it gains stewardship of the cup.

The history and prestige associated with the America’s Cup attracts not only the world’s top sailors and yacht designers but also the involvement of wealthy entrepreneurs and sponsors. It is a test not only of sailing skill and boat and sail design, but also of fundraising and management skills. Competing for the cup is expensive, with modern teams spending more than $US100 million each; the 2013 winner was estimated to have spent $US300 million on the competition.

The trophy was held by the NYYC from 1857 (when the syndicate that won the cup donated the trophy to the club) until 1983. The NYYC successfully defended the trophy twenty-four times in a row before being defeated by the Royal Perth Yacht Club, represented by the yacht Australia II. The NYYC’s reign was the longest winning streak (in terms of date) in the history of all sports.

The New York Yacht Club had held the cup since winning it in 1851, ending it in 1983 to the Australian team, Australia II of the Royal Perth Yacht Club, in Newport, Rhode Island. Since then the cup has passed back and forth between the USA and New Zealand with a brief sojourn in land locked Switzerland. Needless to say, this is a billionaires’ competition.

The cup is currently housed in Auckland, New Zealand held by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron who won the cup in 2017 from Oracle Team USA, San Diego, California.

The type of boat used in the race has changed dramatically, as well.

Early matches for the cup were raced between yachts 65–90 ft (20–27 m) on the waterline owned by wealthy sportsmen. This culminated with the J-Class regattas of the 1930s. After World War II and almost twenty years without a challenge, the NYYC made changes to the deed of gift to allow smaller, less expensive 12-metre class yachts to compete; this class was used from 1958 until 1987. It was replaced in 1990 by the International America’s Cup Class which was used until 2007.

After a long legal battle, the 2010 America’s Cup was raced in 90 ft (27 m) waterline multihull yachts in a best of three “deed of gift” match in Valencia, Spain. The victorious Golden Gate Yacht Club then elected to race the 2013 America’s Cup in AC72 foiling, wing-sail catamarans. Golden Gate Yacht Club successfully defended the cup. The 35th America’s Cup match was announced to be sailed in 50 ft foiling catamarans.

The Prada Challenger Cup series, previously called the Louis Vuitton Cup, began with a series of round robins on January 15. The winners of those races started on February 13 conclude on February 22 in Auckland. The first team in the Final to win seven races earns entry to face the Defender, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, in the America’s Cup Match beginning March 6. The American team, American Magic, was eliminated from the challenger finals without a win and a series of avoidable mishaps.They lost the semi-finals against the Italian Luna Rossa 0- 4. Luna Rossa would sail against the British team, Ineos Team UK, that had already qualified for the finals

The races were postponed February 16 due to pandemic locking down for three days in Auckland.

On February 14, after the conclusion of raceday 2 and with the score at 4-0 towards Italy, the New Zealand government announced that there would be in a “level 3” lockdown for at least 72 hours due to COVID-19 precautions across Auckland. This caused the postponement of raceday 3 (originally scheduled to be held on February 17) although teams were permitted to sail during the lockdown.

Following disagreements between the challenger of record (Luna Rossa) and the America’s Cup authorities about how and when to proceed,[23] racing was agreed to resume on February 20 with raceday 3, with some restrictions to accommodate COVID19 Alert Level 2, and subsequent racedays shifted along the calendar by consequence.

The challenger races were dominated by the Italian team. After winning seven wins in eight races of the 13 race series. Luna Rossa earned the right to race against the America’s Cup holder, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, beginning on March 6.