By Dr. Hamish Ross
The America’s Cup has the power to bring together people from many countries, puts a city on the world map attracting visitors - long after the event, and has been the impetuous for renewal and revitalisation of a waterfront leaving a long-term legacy for a host city. The extent of the benefits depends on the willingness of the host to fully embrace the Cup and on the competitors doing everything possible to help establish an exciting and vibrant event for visitors and locals.
One thing is certain, all past venues having experienced the benefits of hosting the Cup dream to see the return of America’s Cup competition to their shores, but thus far, only one venue has ever realised that dream – Auckland. There are two Challengers who are now working hard to follow suit and return the 37th America's Cup to an earlier Cup venue; the Royal Yacht Squadron (Team INEOS) to Cowes, England and the New York Yacht Club (American Magic) to Newport, Rhode Island.
Let’s look at the past venues:
Newport, Rhode Island (1930-1983)
Perhaps the Golden Age of the America’ Cup was the Newport era. From the later part of the nineteenth century Newport had become the genteel summer home of the New England wealthy, where they established their summer “cottages”, most being mansions fit for royalty. Racing was held outside Newport harbour based around the now famous ‘America’s Cup” Buoy, but challengers and defenders were left to their own devices to find bases to operate from leaving little waterfront legacy of the Cup’s time in Newport.
Interestingly, it has only recently been discovered that the HMB Endeavour, the ship of the great British explorer Lt. James Cook RN, rests in the waters below Newport Harbour, having been scuttled sunk there along with other ships by Loyalist forces during the American Revolutionary War 1776-1782, to form a blockade to protect colonial Newport from a threatened attack by a French fleet. It is co-incidence of history that the second and third challenger to race for the Cup in Newport, in the hands of aircraft designer TOM Sopwith, were also called Endeavour.
2019 12 Metre Worlds at Newport.
With the re-starting of racing in 1958 after World War II, America’s Cup racing was regularly held every three to four years. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy came to watch amongst many of the worlds’ rich and famous when America’s Cup racing formed a major part of the New England social calendar.
When the Cup was eventually lost in 1983, to the famous winged keeled Australia II, Newport seemed somewhat adrift for a time. Sailing however remains a central part of Newport life and the waterfront America’s Cup Avenue records it’s 53-year legacy as an America’s Cup host.
Today, the New York Yacht Club is back pursing the Cup for the fourth time since its 1983 loss. It is expected, should they win the Cup, that it’s defence of the Cup will again be in Newport, where Newport will undergo a renaissance of its Cup glory days.