The America’s Cup is down to match point in the latest battle of the billionaires for the trophy, affectionately known as the Auld Cup. The challenger from New Zealand leads the American team 6 – 1 after 8 races in this best of seven match. The race is being held in the turquoise blue waters of Bermuda’s harbor. This is the first time the USA has decided to defend the cup in another country. If New Zealand takes the cup, the next defense will be in Auckland, which, trust me, is one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. It could also lead to a lot of rule changes, including a return to using the more traditional single hull racing boats (YES!).
New Zealand first won the cup in 1995 when then skipper Russel Coutts swept Team USA skippered by Dennis Connor 5 – 0 taking the race to Auckland. Team NZ successfully defended the cup in 200 but, in 2003, Coutts jumped ship, joined the Swiss team Alinghi, and took the cup to Switzerland in a 5 race sweep. In doing so, Alinghi became the first European team in 152 years of the event’s history to win the cup and successfully won in 2007 against New Zealand.
Then in 2010, this happened:
After Société Nautique de Genève successfully defended the trophy in the 32nd America’s Cup, they accepted a challenge from Club Náutico Español de Vela, a Spanish yacht club formed expressly for the purpose of challenging for the cup and keeping the regatta in Valencia. When SNG and CNEV published their protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup, there was criticism over its terms, with some teams and yacht clubs calling it the worst protocol in the history of the event. Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) then filed its own challenge for the cup and also filed a court case asking that CNEV be removed as being unqualified under the deed of gift, and that GGYC be named the challenger, being the first club to file a conforming challenge.
There followed a long and acrimonious legal battle, with the New York Court of Appeals finally deciding on 2 April 2009 that CNEV did not qualify as valid challenger, and that the GGYC was thus the rightful challenger.
Since the two parties were unable to agree otherwise, the match took place as a one-on-one Deed of Gift match with no other clubs or teams participating.
The match was sailed in gigantic, specialized 90 ft (27 m) multihull yachts in a best-of-three race series in Valencia, Spain from 8 to 14 February 2010. The rigid wing sail of the challenging trimaran USA-17 provided a decisive advantage, and it won the 2010 America’s Cup 2–0.
Thus the America’s Cup returned to the USA, just not in it’s traditional spot at the New York Yacht Club in New York City. The cup would now reside at the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco where the 34th America’s Cup Challenge would take Place and not without controversy.
The Challenger of Record for the 34th America’s Cup was Club Nautico di Roma, whose team Mascalzone Latino had competed in the challenger selection series for the 2007 America’s Cup. In September, 2010, GGYC and Club Nautico di Roma announced the protocol for AC34, scheduling the match for 2013 in a new class of boat, the AC72, a wing-sailed catamaran. Paralleling the “Acts” of the 32nd America’s Cup—a series of preliminary events in different venues leading-up to the actual event—a new series, the America’s Cup World Series was to be run using AC45 class boats (smaller one-design versions of the AC72s), in various world venues in 2011 and 2012.
On 12 May 2011, Club Nautico di Roma withdrew from the competition, citing challenges in raising sufficient funds to field a competitive team. As the second yacht club to file a challenge, the Royal Swedish Yacht Club assumed the duties of the challenger.
Rumors of stable hydrofoiling of an AC72 were confirmed when Team New Zealand’s AC72 yacht Aotearoa was seen to be sailing on hydrofoils in August, 2012. This triggered a technology race in foil development and control. The Royal New Zealand Yacht Club won the right to sail in the America’s Cup match easily beating the Italian and Swedish challengers in the Louis Vuitton Cup. The resulting match between the USA and NZ was the longest on record both in calendar time, and the number of races, with the Golden Gate Yacht Club staging an improbable come-from-behind victory, winning eight straight races to defend the cup and beat New Zealand 9–8.
That brings us to Bermuda and the 35th defense of the Auld Cup which is being raced in 50 foot foiling catamarans. The winds have been light which has favored the Kiwis but after the 2013 USA comeback, who knows. It’s all depends on catching the wind.