A brief history of the Americas Cup which will be held this year in Valencia, Spain.
The America’s Cup competition all started on August 22, 1851 when the British challenged the United States to a sailing event which the British thought they would easily win. The British have always been known for their naval supremacy and for having been more technologically advanced in its time than the rest of the world. But it was at that event, held around the Isle of Wight, that Queen Victoria had to hand over the prize of 100 Guineas to the American team who had sailed in their 90 foot schooner called precisely ‘America’, from the United States to England in just 21 days.
The America’s Cup name does not come from the fact that the Americans had been on a winning streak for over the past 132 years, winning 25 times in a row, but from the name of the first non-British boat that achieved taking away the trophy from them. The British pride was badly hurt and they even tried to come up with some accusations, like the Americans had taken a short-cut or having used other types of propellants, but it was all rejected and ever since then, up until 1983, the American teams have been challenged by many countries, all trying to win this prestigious cup.
The next challenge was held in 1870 when England’s Royal Thames Yacht Club entered the competition with their sailboat named ‘Cambria’ against 18 other American challengers. Unfortunately, the Cambria had an accident with another boat and came in one of the last places. But as we know, the British are very proud people and the itch to bring the America’s Cup back to England has made some very curious people become participants such as Sir Thomas Lipton, the tea millionaire or Sir Thomas Sop with, famous for his aircrafts used in different wars. And some wealthy Americans have also sponsored this event such as Harold Vanderbilt or more recently, the T.V. magnate Ted Turner.
In the 1970’s, shipbuilders started to realize that design was a minimal part of winning and that with all the new technologies, much faster boats could be made without ignoring design and comfort in handling. In 1983, five different countries wanted to take their shot at this thrilling activity, and one above all really stuck out. The Australia II, owned by Alan Bond, was said to have a top secret designed keel which Bond kept protected and hidden from spying eyes until the main event was underway. The question that was in the minds of all was whether the keel was legal, keeping within the regulations that had been set down for the competition. In the end, the keel complied to all standard rules and the final race was set – the U.S. Liberty against the Australia II. It was a neck to neck race but in the last few miles, the skipper of the Australia found a way to make a quick escape with a gust of wind and won by only 25 seconds. Up until that time, the majority of the people in the world had no idea about sailing or even dreamt about owning a yacht, let alone being interested in the America’s Cup. But news quickly spread about Australia’s victory and having broken the spell that had lasted for 132 years.
In 1992, this event was really becoming something big and it was necessary to set up a new organization which would set down strict rules controlling the size and design. Therefore, the International America’s Cup Class or the IACC kicked into action to supervise all the details. Now that the size and design were being watched over, the shipbuilders went for new and better materials making the sailboats lighter but more durable. Some of the recent changes have been longer masts and more sail area, increasing the potential wind to be caught and used for speed. With this, more crew and manpower have also been added making it 17 with one more VIP for a total of 18, to be able to handle this new found speed and power.
But do not fret if you are thinking that you are going to miss out on this wonderful happening which will take place in June 2007 in Valencia. Check out http://www.valencia-information.com/spain/americas-cup.html. There will be great television coverage, newspaper articles and internet details for all. Maybe you are even lucky enough to find a cheap flight; hotel and car hire deal and make your dreams come true. And if you are really curious, there is an America’s Cup Museum founded in 1983 which is in Australia, depicting a great collection of all the sailboats which have ever participated in this event.