The America’s Cup of sailing is the most important regatta in the world that brings together history, fame, fortune, international rivalry and technology, giving rise to one of the greatest sporting events of today.
We are lucky that the next America’s Cup in 2024 will be in Barcelona, so we will be able to experience the show from the front row.
Do you want to know how the regatta works, what types of boats are used and some other curiosity about the event?
History of the America’s Cup
In 1851 a regatta around the Isle of Wight called the Queen’s Cup was to be held.
The trophy, a silver jug valued at 100 guineas.
The American sailboat defeated the English in a tough regatta, taking the trophy to the other side of the Atlantic.
The legend of America’s Cup had begun.
The New York Yacht Club, more than 100 years of victories
On his return to the US, the prize was donated by the owner of the schooner América to the New York Yacht Club, with the promise that the latter would use it to promote international sailing competition.
That is why the regatta was renamed America’s Cup.
The schooner America | Source: www.americascup.com
Since then and for more than a century, the New York club accepted challenges from clubs from all over the world without anyone being able to snatch the title in a regatta.
This was the case until 1983, when the Australia II, of the Royal Yacht Club of Perth (Australia), managed to put an end to the hegemony.
Currently, clubs from only 4 countries have owned America’s Cup: the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland.
America’s Cup event format
The magic and myth that surrounds this regatta also have to do with the way in which it is organized.
Although it is a state-of-the-art sailing competition (the Formula 1 of sailing), it has not lost its true essence with a flavor of the upper class of the 19th century.
Simplifying a lot, America’s Cup is a 1-on-1 regatta where the club that owns the cup defends it against the club that challenges it.
But before going into details about the regatta, let’s understand its origin.
Deed of Gift
The Deed of Gift is a document that contains the main rules of America’s Cup.
It is as if it were the “constitution” of the regatta.
When America’s Cup was donated to the New York Yacht Club in 1857, it carried with it a sheet of paper written by George L. Schuyler defining the main purpose of the trophy.
Its first caption read thus:
|This Cup is donated upon the condition that it shall be preserved as a perpetual challenge Cup for friendly competition between foreign countries.
To prevent Canadian clubs that sailed on lakes from participating or challengers with boats much larger than the defender’s from showing up, the Deed of Gift has undergone modifications over the years.
The third version of the Deed of Gift is currently in force and is from the year 1985.
One of the rules that make this regatta unique is the one that allows both the defender and the challenger to establish, by mutual agreement, aspects such as the date, times, rules, regulations and, in short, any condition for the regatta.
Hence, since the Deed of Gift is not detailed enough, the America’s Cup rules are specified in a document called the Protocol.
This document is drawn up by the defender but the rules are mutually agreed between the defender and the main challenger.
It is the document that establishes the rules for America’s Cup to be held in Barcelona in 2024 (edition number 37) and is published on the official website of America’s Cup.
The document is signed by two clubs :
- The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Incorporated (“RNZYS”), from New Zealand, winner of last America’s Cup.
- And the English Royal Yacht Squadron Limited (“RYS”), who in March 2021 submitted (and was accepted) its candidacy as the first challenger to the RNZYS
Therefore, the 2024 America’s Cup is organized between RNZYS (New Zealand) and RYS (England).
However, the specifications establish that more challenging clubs will be accepted, as long as they meet some conditions. Among other:
- Organize at least one annual regatta in the open sea.
- Be at least 3 years old.
- Have at least 200 members.
The defender always has the power not to accept the candidacy of a challenger, but always having to consult with the main challenger.
For their part, the non-refundable participation fees established by the Protocol are as follows:
– 1,000,000 US dollars within 7 days after being accepted as a challenger
– 1,250,000 US dollars before September 1, 2022
As we can see, the adjectives of fame, history, fortune, international rivalry and technology that we use in the introduction to this post are more than justified in a regatta of traditions and extravagant conditions.
Hence, in terms of audiences and economic impact, it is comparable to sporting events of the level of the World Cup or the Olympics.
Regatta of America’s Cup Barcelona 2024
Having analyzed the origins and main rules of a regatta as curious as this one, we are going to see in this section the details of the America’s Cup that will be held in Barcelona in 2024.
The format of the competition that has been agreed between the New Zealand and English teams are as follows:
CHALLENGER SELECTION SERIES: – SEPTEMBER 2024
This is a first-round where the club that will challenge the defender in the final regatta, Emirates Team New Zealand, will be chosen in the final regatta of America’s Cup.
It is a Round Robin format league.
This means that Challenger hopefuls (challengers) compete against each other in 1 vs 1 regattas. The two teams with the best score will meet in a final regatta in which the winner will play the America’s Cup against Emirates Team New Zealand.
Challenger Selectino Series | Source: americascup.com
FINAL REGATTA OF THE America’s Cup IN BARCELONA – OCTOBER 2024
There is no second place in America’s Cup (you’ll find out why at the end of the article), so there can only be one winner.
The best team from the Challenger Selection Series meets the defender in a best-of-13 regatta final.
The victories are worth 1 point, so the first team to win 7 regattas will take the silver jug and will be in charge of organizing the next America’s Cup.
Finale AC37 | Source: americascup.com
Format of a regatta
A video from the last edition explains in a graphic and easy-to-understand way how an America’s Cup regatta works:
The race course is 3.5 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers wide.
The doors are oriented so that one is to leeward and the other to windward. Between the two is the line that serves as both a start and a finish line.
The number of lengths to be completed in each regatta is determined by the jury based on the weather conditions at the time.
After the countdown to the start, the boats sail first against the wind, to tack at the windward buoys and return, with the wind in favor, to the leeward buoys.
The first boat to cross the starting line after completing the lengths stipulated by the jury wins the regatta.
America’s Cup Boats in Barcelona – AC75 Class
The Protocol defines, of course, what type of boat must be used in the regatta.
For America’s Cup 2024 Barcelona, it is established that the sailboat to be used will be the AC75 model, a high-performance monohull with foils.
Specifically, it is the second evolution of this model, since small changes have been made to the model that was designed for the 36th edition.
The AC75 Class Rule is the official document that specifies the technical characteristics of the monocoque that all teams must comply with.
And it is that nothing is taken for granted; This is what section 1.4 of the introduction says:
|1.4 The AC75 Class Yacht shall be propelled by sails only.
The ailerons that go underwater and allow these sailboats to get up out of the water and “fly” are called foils.
This means that they have much less friction with the water and thus reach much higher speeds compared to normal sailboats, as we will see later.
We detail below the most representative technical characteristics of this model.
Technical characteristics – AC75
- Mast height:26.5 meters
- Crew:8 people
- Weight:6.5 tons
- Max speed:+50 knots
- Length:20.7 meters
- Largest:145 m 2
- Jib:90 m 2
The AC75 Class Rule is an extremely difficult document to understand due to its technicalities and details.
However, it clearly defines the characteristic features that the AC75 must have and that gives a clear idea of the type of boat in question:
- Two foils
- A rudder
- One mast
- A mainsail
- A jib
In addition to these, the standard allows the use of any other element or component, as long as it is not specifically prohibited by the standard itself.
The AC75 can sail at a speed up to 4 times faster than the wind itself blowing.
Thus, with average speeds of between 12 and 15 knots that we usually have in Barcelona, it is expected that the monohulls will touch maximum speeds of 50 knots during the regatta.
Novelty America’s Cup Barcelona: Women’s and youth category
The America’s Cup Barcelona 2024 is presented with news.
It will be the first edition in which there will be two new categories: Women’s and youth.
They will compete in the AC40, which is the little sister of the AC75, but not slower for that.
With top speeds of more than 45 knots, the AC40s have even more restricted regulations.
All the teams compete using exactly the same boat. The goal: put aside budget differences and find young promises for future America’s Cups.
The AC40 is aesthetically very similar to the AC75 but somewhat smaller. With a length of 11.3 meters, a mast of 18 meters and only 4 crew members, they are true flying bullets.
They will compete in the same regatta course as the men’s category and their base of operations will be in Port Olímpic, very close to Escola Port.
America’s Cup Barcelona 2024 Dates
The America’s Cup to be held in Barcelona in 2024 is scheduled for the following dates:
- September 2024:Challenger Selection Series
- October 2024:Women’s, youth and men’s final regatta
At the moment these are all the details that are known but we will update this section as the official dates are published.
Location of the America’s Cup Barcelona 2024: Port Olimpic
At Escola Port we are going to have the luck and the privilege of living the America’s Cup Barcelona 2024 sailing from the front row.
The regatta field will be located between the Port Olímpic and Hotel W, the waters we know best since it is the area where we practice the recreational nautical licenses and the Nautical Team Building events.
In addition, the FanZone and the giant screens will be placed on our pier, so that we will have no choice but to live the event with all its intensity and emotion.
Map of America’s Cup 2024 Barcelona | Source: www.americascup.com
America’s Cup boats and teams will be in Port Vell, and we already know that some teams are training in Barcelona, so if you want to see the boats firsthand it is an ideal plan to take a walk there.
We collect in this section a couple of curiosities about America’s Cup that every fan should know and that we consider representative of the uniqueness of this event.
From secret keels to fly
A clear technical advance was needed from the challengers to unseat the New York Yacht Club from its supremacy in the world sailing competition that it had held for 132 years.
Thus, in 1983 the Royal Perth Yacht Club entered America’s Cup with the Australia II, a sailboat that hid a great secret that they did not want to be known.
The advance was in the keel, so that every time the boat had to be taken out of the water, the Australian team placed some canvas so that it would not be visible.
This not only served to increase the audience’s interest in the event, but also caused one of the biggest controversies in terms of compliance with the rules.
The New York Yacht Club claimed that the Australia II did not meet the Deed of Gift, for two reasons:
First, because they considered that the “keel with wings” did not meet the technical requirements of a valid 12-meter sailboat.
And second, because they considered that the design was the work of Dutch engineers, when the Deed of Gift determined that the boat should be “designed and built in the same country to which the Club belonged”.
The jury determined that Australia II was a valid boat to compete and was able to participate in the regatta.
The Australian team was able to overcome a 3-1 loss in a final to the best of 7 regattas, taking the coveted trophy and ending the streak of the New York club.
A milestone that marked the America’s Cup not only for the fact of defeating the NYYC, but also for being an antecedent of the foil technology that we see in today’s most cutting-edge boats.
“There is no second”
If there is a phrase that represents America’s Cup, this is it.
“Your Majesty, there is no second” | “Majesty, there is no second”
Legend has it that Queen Victoria was on the Victoria & Albert Royal Yacht enjoying the regatta near the Solent when she asked a sailor to see who would go first.
The conversation is said to have gone like this:
“Say signal-master, are the yachts in sight?”
“Yes, may it please Your Majesty.”
“Which is first?”
“Which is second?”
“Ah, Your Majesty, there is no second.”
Since then it is said that there is only one winner in the America’s Cup .
This phrase represents the competitiveness and desire for victory of the participating teams, perhaps somewhat inconsistent with the original Deed of Gift, which begged for “a trophy of friendly challenges.”