The history of the America's Cup
About the America's Cup
The America's Cup is revered by many, but won by few.
First sailed in 1851, the 100 Guinea Cup, as the America’s Cup was originally called, has been at the forefront of design technology, national honour, diplomacy and politics ever since.
This is going to be the 31st occasion that the Cup has been raced for since a bold bunch of entrepreneurs from the then New World sailed their new yacht America across the Atlantic and smartly upstaged the British Empire establishment by beating Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s fleet in a race around the Isle of Wight.
Six years after winning the Cup America’s owners donated it to the New York Yacht Club along with a Deed of Gift that stipulated it be preserved as a perpetual Challenge Cup for friendly competition between foreign countries.
The event is completely challenge driven. If a yacht club challenges the defending yacht club (the holder and therefore trustee of the Cup), the terms and conditions of the Match are mutually agreed (always subject to the Deed of Gift) and a match is raced. If there is no challenge, there is no event.
The first challenge came from Britain in 1870. In an effort to restore the status quo, they challenged the New Yorkers for a re-match in New YorkHarbour. And so began an epic struggle between the old and the new, between new technologies and different approaches, with money, skill and daring, controversy and gentlemanly conduct – a battle that would go on for more than 100 years.
In the early 1960s other countries became interested, and in 1970 a milestone was reached when multiple challengers were allowed to do battle for the right to become the Challenger that would duel with the American Defender. Until that point, the New York Yacht Club recognised only one challenger while it staged a Defender selection series for multiple teams. This gave the NYYC a decided advantage.
The Challenger finally wrested the Cup away from the New York Yacht Club in 1983 when Australia II, representing the Royal Perth Yacht Club, won the first Louis Vuitton Cup and then defeated Dennis Conner’s Liberty, ending New York’s 132-year winning streak. In 1987, the Challenger again upset the Defender, with Conner’s Stars & Stripes, representing San Diego Yacht Club, shutting out the Defender.
The America’s Cup then spent eight years and two successful defences at the San Diego Yacht Club before Team New Zealand, representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, became the second team to defeat an American defender.
We now find ourselves in Auckland again, in a magnificent harbour facility developed especially to host all syndicates in one place. The racecourse on the Hauraki Gulf is partially landlocked, providing sheltered water, picturesque backdrops and challenging racing conditions.