San Francisco plays host to the 34th America’s Cup in an exciting Summer of Racing on San Francisco Bay. The Summer of Racing is an umbrella term that covers several events:
- The 2013 America’s Cup Finals, scheduled September 7-21
- The Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, scheduled for July and August
- ORACLE TEAM USA’s training, which it will stage with its two AC72 yachts during July and August
- The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, scheduled September 1-4
Four teams – ORACLE TEAM USA, Artemis Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge – have their bows aimed at the ultimate prize: the America’s Cup, the trophy first awarded in 1851.
The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sport and the hardest to win. Only four countries – the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland – have experienced the euphoria of winning the “Auld Mug,” and only seven cities have hosted the competition before San Francisco.
The 34th edition of the America’s Cup marks a transformation for the oldest trophy in international sport as new boats, cutting-edge technology, and a close-to-shore venue mean that this summer’s America’s Cup will be unlike anything that’s preceded it. The 2013 America’s Cup is features notable firsts:
- First time racing is inshore not offshore
- First time all teams are racing wing sail catamarans
- First time the AC72 “50 mph flying boats” foil above the water
- First time there is a new pathway series for youth sailors, the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup
- First time the America’s Cup has been held in the United States since 1995
First contested in 1851, the America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sport, pre-dating the modern Olympics by 45 years, and is yachting’s biggest prize.
The trophy’s roots date back to when a syndicate of businessmen from New York sailed the schooner America across the Atlantic Ocean to represent the United States at the World’s Fair in England. The schooner won a race around the Isle of Wight and, with it, a trophy called the £100 Cup. (It was subsequently inscribed, incorrectly, as the 100 Guineas Cup.)
After winning the trophy, the United States embarked on what would become the longest winning streak in the history of sport, a 132-year stretch of domination that saw boats representing the country successfully defend the trophy 24 times from 1870 through 1980—until 1983, when Australia II became the first successful challenger.
Throughout its history, the America’s Cup has bedazzled a worldwide roster of business and industry tycoons such as fashion magnate Patrizio Bertelli, brewing and real estate mogul Alan Bond, tea merchant Sir Thomas Lipton, aviation pioneer Sir T.O.M. Sopwith, the Aga Khan, media mogul Ted Turner, and Harold S. Vanderbilt, an American railroad executive who won the America’s Cup three times and also helped author the original racing rules of sailing. It’s also attracted larger-than-life sailing figures such as Tom Blackaller, Peter Blake, Paul Cayard, Dennis Conner, Russell Coutts, and Grant Dalton.
The Summer of Racing
On September 7, the America’s Cup Defender, ORACLE TEAM USA, is scheduled to line up for Race 1, the first of 17 possible races, against one of three challenging teams: Artemis Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand, or Luna Rossa Challenge 2013.
Before then, on July 7, the three challengers are scheduled to begin contesting the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series. The winner of that regatta, the event’s 30th, will become the challenger to ORACLE TEAM USA in the 2013 America’s Cup Finals.
One of the most notable changes to the format is the AC72, the wing-sail catamaran that is capable of speeds typically seen on the highways of America. At 43 knots boatspeed, the AC72 is capable of sailing its 72-foot length in a single second. The demand on the sailors is unprecedented; only the most athletic and multi-talented need apply.
The venue itself is an important part of the story. San Francisco Bay is among the world’s premier sailing spots because of its reliable winds and challenging tides; a stunning natural amphitheater that is framed in part by the world-renowned Golden Gate Bridge. Racing is inshore and close to the public, the short racecourses will bring the sailors within earshot of the roaring spectators as the boats charge along the city front.
Tight racing is expected on a compact racecourse that keeps the crews close to each other. And with the racecourse nearer to shore than ever before, this America’s Cup will deliver “stadium sailing” on the Bay Arena at its best, where the sailors can hear the roar of the crowds and spectators can all but reach out and touch the boats as they fly past.
An unexpected and innovative development in the design of the AC72s—the addition of hydrofoils—now allows the seven-ton craft to lift out of the water and “fly” on foils. At speed, the hydrofoils, positioned at the bottom of the daggerboards and rudders, generate enough lifting force to raise the AC72’s two hulls clear of the water, reducing hull drag and adding yet more speed.
With this speed comes a new challenge. Controlling the boats while they fly on their foils is, for the sailors, an immensely difficult task. Many think that victory in this America’s Cup will go to the team that best masters the promise and the challenges of the hydrofoils and the attendant issues of speed, risk, skill, and nerve.
Transformative television graphics add layers of information to the screen, making the racing easier to understand than ever before. The Emmy Award-winning AC LiveLine graphics are just one element of a television production that sets a new standard for sport.
The action won’t be solely on the water. The America’s Cup Park, at Piers 27/29, will host daily activities as well as the America’s Cup Concert Series. A second venue, the America’s Cup Village, at Marina Green, will be active on race days. Both venues are free to enter, and feature a full range of educational, interactive and entertainment features, plus food, beverage and official America’s Cup and team apparel.
All in all, the 2013 America’s Cup stands to offer exhilarating racing and shoreside activities to excite visitors of all ages.