Well, it’s hard to believe that 3 years have passed since I last reported on America’s Cup results, but that’s the reality! I am sure all sailing enthusiasts still remember the incredible final when Team USA were down 8-1 and needed to win ‘9 straight’ to win and retain the Cup in the USA … but something they miraculously went on to do!
Teams around the globe are now gearing up for another major dual. The preliminary rounds (sailed in the smaller AC-45) are well underway and exciting races have already been held in Gt.Britain, Sweden, Bermuda, Oman and USA.
But let’s make a quick resume of what’s happened and changed in the last year or so. Any reader unfamiliar with the history or tech details of the America’s Cup should first check these out: https://www.americascup.com/en/history.html
The very first boat to successfully defend the America’s Cup (in 1870, and shown here) was a schooner, incidentally called ‘Magic’, the name of my present trimaran ;)
Right after the end of the last Cup race, Australia became the initial ‘Challenger of Record’ for 2017, based on their assumption that the boats would be similar to the 2013 Cup boats. But there’s a LOT of power that goes with WINNING the cup, as that country can then change many of the rules under which the next race is to be held…. something that potentially gives the Cup holder some very clear advantages. When Australia, learned that the Cup holder (USA) were planning on changing the boat size and the entry fee was to be $3M (!), they withdrew their challenge as they knew new research and very high costs would be involved. Team Italie then became the new ‘Challenger of Record’, but even that did not last. They protested when they heard the new boat size was to drop to the 45-50ft range and then also withdrew.
Finally, the defender USA has selected a 50 foot design, now referred to as the AC50. In addition, team USA (using the power given the Defender by the original America’s Cup decree), will be allowed to build two boats, whereas Challengers will only be allowed one. In addition, the jury (to settle future protests etc) will be made up of 3 individuals also selected by the defender.
As for the last series, the Challenger will be the boat who wins a pre-cup series (for the Louis Vuitton Cup) between the top 4 challengers (schedule for early June 2017) and to date, those remaining in the fray are:
Team Sweden (Artemis Racing .. skippered by Nathan Outteridge)
Team UK (Land Rover … skippered by Sir Ben Ainslie)
Team France ( Groupama .. skippered by Franck Cammas*)
Team Japan (Softbank …. skippered by Dean Barker)
Team New Zealand (Emirates … skippered by Peter Burling)
*[Franck Cammas suffered a horrific accident in Nov 2015, when he fell from a GC32 foiling cat and his foot was partially severed by a super sharp rudder while sailing at over 30kts. But read here:.
The Louis-Vuitton qualifying races started back in 2015 and over the last year, close races have been held in 7 of the 9 planned locations, with only events in France and Japan still to take place.
Here are details of the 2016 AC45F:
The boats used for all these ‘AC World Series’ of races is a foiling AC45F … similar to what was used last year, but with stricter rules that make these ‘boats with foils’ almost a one-design. One unique thing about the racing in Chicago was that this was the first time ANY racing related to the America’s Cup has ever been held in fresh water. Reportedly some 200,000 spectators were on hand to watch these speedsters fly by … check out some of the YouTubes on line to appreciate the sensation and how foils have changed the face of ‘ultimate racing’ forever. (One now (2016) has to wonder, … will ‘kites’ one day replace ‘sails’ ??)
Mentioning WINGSAILS, reminds me of a good introductory video presented by a team member of the UK challenge. Here is the link:
And here’s another by the Oracle-USA team
The boats are 44.13’ x 22.6’ with 70.5’ wingsails, weigh 2910 lbs (of which ~30% is the wingsail) and carry 1430 sqft upwind.
After Chicago, the very close results were as follows. At the end of the AC World Series, only the top 4 teams will sail off in the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup (in May 2017) to select the one final Challenger.
1 Emirates Team New Zealand – 295 points
2 Land Rover BAR UK – 285 points
3 Oracle Team USA – 285 points
4 Artemis Racing Sweden – 262 points
5 SoftBank Team Japan – 259 points
6 Groupama Team France – 234 points
The British challenge is perhaps of special interest, as it’s the first time for a long while that the UK has been able to field a strong competitor to attempt to ‘bring back the cup’. The team is led by Sir Ben Ainslie, who won a silver and 4 consecutive gold medals over 13 years of Olympics and who also played an important role with the winning Team Oracle in 2013. The Royal Yacht Squadron, who is backing the British challenge is also the same club that lost that first race around the Isle of Wight back in 1871 to ‘America’ to start this romantic odyssey. Further, the Duke of Edinburgh (Queen’s husband of course), is now ‘Admiral’ of the RYS and was always a keen sailor. He used to successfully compete in his Dragon ‘Bluebottle’ at the annual Cowes Regatta, often sailing with noted British designer Uffa Fox, who is often credited with being the first to design a true planing dinghy.
The America’s Cup FINAL will be held late June 2017, between the top Challenger and the Defender (Team Oracle). This time around, it will apparently be the best of 13 (7 wins). After considerations of San Diego and Chicago, the final location selected is Hamilton, Bermuda, with one main reason being that it’s time-zone most conveniently permits the event to be broadcast live and reach both Europe and Asia during daytime. (NBC and ESPN International will cover it in the US). But how little Bermuda will ‘stay above water’ with a short term population explosion that could quadruple or more it’s norm, is yet to be seen!
Update: August, 2017
The races are now all over and here is how it went ………….
For the final 2017 Louis Vuitton Cup Races …. check out this link:
For the final of the 2017 America’s Cup races between USA and NZ
Note: Mike Waters has no direct connection to the America's Cup organizers. Views given are totally those of the writer and may disagree with official releases or other published data. While info has been reasonably researched and believed to be correct, there can be no guarantee of absolute accuracy. His opinions are purely personal ones covering his assessment of the situation based on data currently publicly available.