It’s been four years since the America’s Cup briefly captured the attention of the nation when Larry Ellison’s ORACLE TEAM USA completed one of the greatest comebacks in sports. Back then, the impossibly fast 72-foot-long hydrofoiling catamarans they raced on windy San Francisco Bay propelled the sport of sailing into a whole new stratosphere of speed.
The drama of ORACLE TEAM USA being just one race away from losing the Cup and then winning eight races in a row to win it showed that the competition could produce worldwide interest in addition to adrenaline. People said the new America’s Cup was like Formula 1 racing on the water.
But then, things really got even more interesting when the announcement was made that the next America’s Cup would be held in…Bermuda…on a whole new class of foiling cats.
Well, after years of lead-up, and preliminary events held all around the world (including NYC and Chicago last summer), and a flurry of activity on the tiny British territory off the coast of North Carolina, the six teams competing in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers started with a bang on Bermuda’s Great Sound recently.
Defending champs ORACLE TEAM USA have been training in Bermuda the longest and started off solid with two wins. Meanwhile, Dean Barker, the Kiwi helmsman of SoftBank Team Japan, and America’s Cup veteran who lost to Jimmy Spithill and ORACLE TEAM USA as the skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand in heartbreaking fashion in 2013 appears to be right in the hunt for redemption. Especially as his team faced Sir Ben Ainslie’s Team Land Rover BAR on the first day of racing. In fact, a major collision occurred between the two boats before the start of the race resulting in a penalty being given to and the British team. That penalty effectively put paid to the Brits’ chances of a win, proving to be a deficit Land Rover BAR were unable to overturn.
But the high-octane Cup competition that’s scheduled to run through the end of June is just part of what will make Bermuda one of this summer’s most exclusive destinations.
Many of the world’s largest and most spectacular superyachts are not only in Bermuda to watch the racing. They’ll also be racing in the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta 2017 that takes place just before the final America’s Cup take place.
But I think most beautiful America’s Cup yachts of all may steal the show when the J Class regatta takes place in June.
“The J Class era of the America’s Cup is widely recognized as being among the high points in Cup history,” says five-time America’s Cup winner and CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority Russell Coutts,.
Eight J Class yachts are expected in Bermuda – including Shamrock V – with seven anticipated to compete in the J Class regatta. This will be the first time in history that seven J Class yachts have raced against each other.
“The Js still epitomize grace and power with cutting-edge design and engineering,” adds Coutts. “Having the J Class join us in Bermuda will create a spectacular blend between the old and new, showcasing the best of America’s Cup challengers and defenders from almost 90 years apart.”