The America’s Cup, known as the Auld Mug, is the oldest international sporting trophy dating back to 1851 and the next challenge is scheduled for March 2021 in New Zealand. The cup was originally awarded in 1851 by the Royal Yacht Squadron for a race around the Isle of Wright, which was won by the schooner America.
In 1851, Commodore Jon Cox Stevens of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC), formed a six-person syndicate to build a yacht with the intention of taking her to England and make money competing in yachting regattas, matching racing and betting on the regattas with the English bookmakers. The syndicate contracted with New York Harbor pilot boat designer George Steers for a 101-foot schooner, which was christened America. America sailed over to England and on August 22, 1851 raced against 15 yachts of the Royal Yacht Squadron in the Club’s annual 53-nautical mile regatta around the Isle of Wright. America won, finishing 8 minutes ahead of its closest competitor and Queen Victoria who was watching at the finish line, was reported to ask who was the second place boat, the famous answer being “Ah, Your Majesty, there is no second.” On the sail back to New York, the sailors of America considered melting down the cup for money or melting it down to medallions for each crew member, but decided to donate the Cup to New York Yacht Club (NYYC) under terms of the Deed of Gift, inviting yacht clubs from around the world to compete in a friendly competition between foreign countries. The Cup was renamed America’s Cup, in honor of the yacht that won it.
After successfully defending the Cup 24 times without a loss, NYYC loss in 1983 to Australian yacht, Australian II with designed with the famous winged keel and represented the Royal Perth Yacht Club. The America’s Cup was now off to Fremantle, Australia to be defended by the Royal Perth Yacht Club. The America’s Cup is now being defended in New Zealand by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
The prestige of winning the America’s Cup attracts the world’s top sailors, designers, wealthy businessmen and sponsors. The boats have changed overtime from 65-90 footers in the early days culminating with the J-Class, followed by the 12-meter class, followed by the International America’s Cup Class, followed by foiling wing-sailed catamarans and in 2021 will be sailed in AC72 class monohulls. The foiling AC72 monohulls can supposedly reach speeds above 50 knots. After being absent for many years, NYYC is back in the game with a boat, Defiant, supported by the syndicate American Magic. As happens every few years, the world will be watching to see who captures the America’s Cup, but one thing is for certain, the winner will not consider melting down the cup for money or creating medallions for the sailors.