Haute Sail: A Preview of the 35th America’s Cup races

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A preview of the 35th America’s Cup races presented by Louis Vuitton starting in May off the coast of Bermuda 

16/10/07 - Hamilton (BDA) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - ORACLE TEAM USA - AC45S training
Oracle Team USA is a two-time winner of the America’s Cup (2010 and 2013). It is aiming for a three-peat with the upcoming races in Bermuda. Photo,left page: Sam Greenfield /Oracle Team USA, courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority

HOW THE RACES STARTED: In a race around England’s Isle of Wight in August 1851, an upstart schooner named America sailed past the Royal Yacht to win the 100 Pound Cup. More than a simple boating competition, this triumph of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) over the Royal Yacht Squadron symbolized a huge victory for America, representing the New World over the UK, or the Old World. The trophy was renamed the America’s Cup a er the winning schooner and was donated to the NYYC, which made it available for subsequent international competitions.

GET READY: Beginning in late May, yacht lovers are in for a spectacular treat: the kick- o of the 35th America’s Cup presented by Louis Vuitton in Bermuda. Defending the America’s Cup, the competition for the oldest trophy in international sports (dating back to 1851), will be Oracle Team USA, representing the Golden Gate Yacht Club, which won the Cup in 2010 and 2013. Five challengers will race one another over the course of a month to go up against the Oracle team.

THE SCHEDULE: The action in Bermuda this summer represents the climax of a competition that started two years ago in Portsmouth, England. The first of the final series of races, Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, begins in Bermuda on May 26 and runs through June 3. These races are followed by the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs, which culminate in the America’s Cup Match presented by Louis Vuitton. In that final match, the first team to seven points wins the America’s Cup.

09/09/16 - Toulon (FR) - Media Day, Day -1, 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series New York - Setup Day –2
A practice day for Oracle Team USA at Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago Photo: Sam Greenfield/Oracle Team USA, courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority

LOUIS VUITTON AMERICA’S CUP QUALIFIERS MAY 26–JUNE 3

Every challenging team races each other twice. Each victory is worth one point, and those points determine which final four challenger teams progress to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs.

LVPORTSMOUTHP15D5LVACWS_3585 (1)
Emirates Team New Zealand racing in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. © ACEA 2015 /Gilles Martin-Raget, courtesy of Louis Vuitton

LOUIS VUITTON AMERICA’S CUP CHALLENGER PLAYOFFS JUNE 4–JUNE 12 

The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs see the last four challengers compete in the semifinal and then final competition races. Each of these competitions are first-to- five races. The winning team progresses to the America’s Cup Match presented by Louis Vuitton as the official Challenger.

THE AMERICA’S CUP MATCH PRESENTED BY LOUIS VUITTON JUNE 17–18 AND 24–27
This is when Oracle Team USA defends the trophy against the 35th Challenger.

THE BOATS: The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers and Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs are raced in America’s Cup Class (ACC) boats with a crew of six.

WHERE THE RACES ARE HELD: Bermuda’s Great Sound—a volcano-formed, island-framed inlet with a natural amphitheater. The finish line is close to stadium- style seating.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE AMERICAN TO WIN THE AMERICA’S CUP
But it helps! American teams have won for most of the competition’s history, and the current Defender is American. Australia II’s victory in 1983 broke the New York Yacht Club’s grip on the America’s Cup. It has since been won by teams from Switzerland (twice) and New Zealand (twice). For this year’s races, there are teams from Sweden, Britain, France, Japan, and New Zealand.

HANDS OFF THE CUP! Made of top-quality sterling silver, the Cup is never touched by bare hands, only by agents wearing museum quality white cotton gloves. In 1997, in New Zealand, a Maori activist attacked the trophy with a sledgehammer. The Cup was repaired by Garrard’s of London, and now travels in a custom-designed Louis Vuitton case with two security protection agents. The Cup flies in business or first class wherever it goes, and it’s enrolled in many frequent flyer programs.

WHERE TO STAY: Americas cuptravel.com has numerous packages that include accommodations and tickets to watch the races on spectator boats. For more information, visit americascup.com; louisvuitton.com; gotobermuda.com 

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