America’s Cup Comes Home

BMW Oracle Accepting the Cup

Last Sunday was not only Valentines day but the day that the America’s Cup once again returned to its name sake homeland.

The second successive victory for BMW ORACLE Racing team against the Swiss Alinghi team on Sunday February 14th 2010 marked the end of the 33rd America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain.

It all came down to a couple of errors on the part of the Alinghi team including a penalty at the start of the race for cutting off the BMW Oracle Team and a tactical error on the final tack to the mark.

As you can see from the photo below, this is not your father’s typical racing boat design. This space age, behemoth, multihull has come a long way since the Stars and Stripes win in 1987 with Captain Dennis Connors at the helm. Stars and Stripes was a simple, straight forward’ sloop design.

Flying the BMW Oracle

The America’s Cup is a trophy awarded to the winner of the America’s Cup sailing regatta match, and the oldest active trophy in international sport, predating the Modern Olympics by 45 years.

Originally named the Royal Yacht Squadron Cup, it became known as the “America’s Cup” after the first yacht to win the trophy, the schooner America. The trophy remained in the hands of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) from 1857 (when the syndicate that won the Cup donated the trophy to the club) until 1983 when the Cup was won by the Royal Perth Yacht Club, with their yacht, Australia II, ending the longest winning streak in the history of sport.

The America’s Cup regatta is a challenge-driven series of match races between two yachts which is governed by the Deed of Gift which was the instrument used to convey the cup to the New York Yacht Club. Any yacht club that meets the requirements specified in the Deed of Gift has the right to challenge the yacht club that holds the Cup. If the challenging yacht club wins the match, the cup’s ownership is transferred to that yacht club.

Yacht America 1865

In 1851 Commodore John Cox Stevens, a charter member of the fledgling New York Yacht Club (NYYC) formed a six-person syndicate to build a yacht with intention of taking her to England and making some money competing in yachting regattas and match races. The syndicate contracted with pilot-boat designer George Steers for a 101 ft schooner which was christened America and launched on May 3, 1851.

On August 22, 1851, the America raced against 15 yachts of the Royal Yacht Squadron in the Club’s annual 53 mile regatta around the Isle of Wight. America won, finishing 8 minutes ahead of the closest yacht. Queen Victoria, who was watching at the finish line, asked who was second; the famous answer being: “Ah, Your Majesty, there is no second.

The surviving members of the America syndicate donated the Cup via a Deed of Gift to the NYYC on July 8, 1857, specifying that it be held in trust as a perpetual challenge trophy to promote friendly competition among nations.

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