This month, the 35th running of the America’s Cup will commence on the waters of Bermuda’s Great Sound. From the spindly foil-borne, wing-sailed catamarans to the compact, stadium-style racecourse to the big-bucks high-end venue, it will be unlike any of the 34 Cups that preceded it.
Five challenging teams assembled in Bermuda for the right to sail against Larry Ellison’s defending Oracle Team USA in the Cup finals: Artemis Racing from Sweden, Emirates Team New Zealand, Groupama Team France, Land Rover BAR from Great Britain and Softbank Team Japan. The ultimate challenger will be decided during the Louis Vuitton Qualifiers from May 26 to June 12. Once that spray has settled, the actual America’s Cup racing will be conducted over a best-of-13 race series beginning on June 17.
Those who recall the grand tacking duels aboard stately 12-Meters when the event sailed off Newport, Rhode Island, will need to recalibrate their senses for the latest edition of Cup racing. Like water bugs on steroids, the 50-foot America’s Cup Class catamarans will zip around the tight, closed course — races will last only about 20 minutes — at speeds approaching 50 knots, their foils alone piercing the water while their hulls literally fly above it (see “Foiled Again,” page 154). For more details on the boats and the racing schedule, visit the event’s website (americascup.com) and that of our sister racing publication Sailing World (sailingworld.com).
The star of the show may yet be Bermuda itself, so chosen for its mid-atlantic allure. In addition to the America’s Cup, the island will host a regatta of both the J Class behemoths from Cups of yore and a separate Superyacht event in June. Bermuda has always been a sailor’s island, but generally as a destination. As the center of attraction for this America’s Cup, Bermuda is ready for its close-up.
Land Rover BAR R1 lifts off during a practice run on Bermuda’s Great Sound. The team, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, hopes to take home the Cup for Great Britain.