One of the most renowned and oldest sailing races in the world is the America’s Cup. Begun in 1851 by the New York Yacht Club, the America’s Cup is an open challenge to the sailing community. Every four years the trophy, or “Auld Mug” as it is also called, is subject to a challenge from syndicates comprised of other racers, yacht clubs, and sponsors. The winner takes stewardship of the cup until the next race is held at the location of their choice.
The Field Widens: More Challengers are Included in a New Format
For the first one hundred years, the race was held between two boats, the champion and the challenger. In the 1960s interest in the race began to grow and multiple syndicates began emerging as potential challengers. A new format was devised that allowed the challengers to race over the course of several days determining the fastest boat in the field. In the early 1980s Luis Vuitton began sponsoring the challenger series and the winner was awarded the Luis Vuitton Cup.
Technology Changes the Race
When the New York Yacht Club originated the race, it used a sailboat built specifically for yacht racing of the time. Over the years, advances in materials and building methods have changed the look of the boats in the America’s Cup dramatically. In the 1950’s a rule was implemented to specify boats twelve meters in length. With the smaller boats, more advanced materials such as carbon fiber and fiberglass could be used, creating lighter and faster boats. The new materials allowed for daring and innovative hull designs to be featured in the racing yachts built specifically for the race.
Still the World’s Premier Sailing Race After 150 Years
For over 150 years the America’s Cup has been the world’s premier sail boat race. Huge amounts of money are spent every four years in the quest to win the trophy. Despite changes in the rules and boat designs, the race remains an exciting event and showcases the best sailors in the world.