America's Cup History & Facts
Sailing's top prize has roots in England and a name that comes from an upstart American victory. In May and June of 2017, Bermuda made its way into America’s Cup history as host of the 35th America's Cup, presented by Louis Vuitton.
The 2017 America's Cup made history in many ways. When Emirates Team New Zealand clinched the top prize on June 26, 2017, Peter Burling became the youngest winning helmsman in America's Cup history. The 26-year-old helmsman and his team took an unprecedented approach to powering their boat. Instead of relying on traditional hand-cranked “grinding stations” to operate the wings and foils, the Kiwis opted for four small bicycles – the idea was that using their legs instead of arms would give them a powerful boost. The strategy proved successful.
Bermuda also made history as a first-time host of the pinnacle event in the sport of sailing.
A British & American Past
The America's Cup traces its roots to August 1851 when an upstart schooner named America sailed past the Royal Yacht to win the 100 Pound Cup in a race around England's Isle of Wight. More than a simple boating competition, this triumph of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) over the Royal Yacht Squadron symbolised a great victory for the new world over the old.
The trophy was renamed the America's Cup after the winning schooner and was donated to the NYYC under the terms of the Deed of Gift, which made it available for perpetual international competition.
A Travelling Trophy
The America's Cup, affectionately called "Auld Mug," is considered the most difficult trophy to win in the world of sports. Since the first race more than 160 years ago, only four nations have captured what is often called "the oldest trophy in international sport." In fact, before the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896, there had already been nine America's Cup contests.
The trophy remained with the New York Yacht Club until 1983, when the Royal Perth Yacht Club, represented by the yacht Australia II, prevailed, ending the long winning streak.
In 1987, the San Diego Yacht Club, represented by the challenger Stars & Stripes 87, brought the trophy back to the U.S. In subsequent contests, the Cup has been won by New Zealand (1995, 2000) and Switzerland (2003, 2007). It returned to the USA in 2010 with the successful challenge by Golden Gate Yacht Club.
In 2013, Golden Gate Yacht Club staged a successful defense in a come-from-behind victory against the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club. Oracle Team USA won eight races in a row to win the 34th America's Cup with nine points to New Zealand's eight, the longest match on record.
Four years later, the tides turned as Emirates Team New Zealand dominated Oracle Team USA in all but one of nine final races, decisively claiming victory in the 35th America’s Cup.
As the winner of the 35th America's Cup, presented by Louis Vuitton in Bermuda, Emirates Team New Zealand was awarded the oldest trophy in international sport – one that predates the modern Olympics by 45 years. The esteemed Cup, referred to as "she," has a story as intriguing as the race itself.
- The America's Cup was crafted in 1848 by London-based Robert Garrard & Co, the royal jeweller since 1735.
- Originally known as the £100 Cup, the trophy was mistakenly engraved as the 100 Guinea Cup by the America syndicate.
- The Cup is made of top-quality sterling silver and is never touched by bare human hands, only agents wearing museum-quality white cotton gloves.
- In 1852, the Cup was almost melted down into medallions for the members of the winning team.
- In 1997 in New Zealand, a Maori activist attacked the trophy with a sledgehammer. The cup was repaired by Garrard's of London and now travels with two security protection agents.
- The names of each of the 34 winning teams are engraved on the trophy, as well as the race course length, winning time and location and yacht club.
- The trophy originally stood 27 inches tall, but to accommodate the growing list of winners, two bases have been added, increasing her height to 44 inches.
- The trophy weighs approximately 32.4 lbs.
- ORACLE RACING, winner of the 33rd America's Cup, replaced the trophy's simple wooden base with one made of the same carbon fiber as their yacht, USA 17.
- When it is not being shown to the public, the Cup is kept in a non-disclosed location.
- The America's Cup trophy travels around the world in a custom-designed Louis Vuitton case, which was made and presented to her for her 150th birthday.
- She flies in business or first class wherever she goes and is enrolled in many frequent-flyer programs.