INTRODUCTION TO GALLERY
Press Esc to close
INTRODUCTION TO AMERICA'S CUP GALLERY
The 34th America’s Cup was the biggest, fastest and most expensive regatta in its 162-year history. Under the arcane rules of the America's Cup, a team mus tbe sponsored by a yacht club and carry that club's nationality, but the crews need not be nationals of the same club. So of the four teams competing in the 34th America’s Cup, Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa have crews comprised of Kiwis and Italians respectively, but the Swedish Artemis Racing has no Swedes on its crew and both of Oracle’s 11-man crews are dominated by Aussies and Kiwis, and the crew headed by Brit Ben Ainslie has no Americans at all. The rules stipulate that the winner of a race can decide the construction and size of the boats for the succeeding race as well as the location where it will be held. Up until 1988, boats were single-hulled and used traditional soft-sails, but that year the American catamaran with a rigid wing-sail beat the New Zealand team with their conventional mono-hulled boat with a soft sail. Then in the last America’s Cup held in Valencia, Spain three years ago, the defending Swiss champion, Alinghi’s catamaran with soft sails lost to the American challenger, BMW Oracle’s trimaran with a rigid wing-sail.
As Adam Fisher notes in an article on the 34th America’s Cup for Wired.com, “the race is perhaps best understood as a pissing contest between the world’s richest men.” Well almost. John Malcolm Forbes was the 1885 America’s Cup winner. J.P. Morgan’s yacht won the Cup in 1899 and 1901. Thomas Lipton of the tea fortune, was a challenger five times between 1899-1930. Cornelius Vanderbilt’s great grandson, Harold Stirling Vanderbilt’s yacht won the America’s Cup three times in 1930, 1934 and 1937. Ted Turner, whose net worth was valued at $2 billion in 2013, was the owner and skipper of the Courageous which successfully defended the America’s Cup in 1977. William Koch (net worth $4 billion in 2013) won the 1992 America’s Cup. The final of the 33rd America’s Cup was fought between two billionaires: Oracle’s Larry Ellison (net worth $41 billion) and Alinghi’s Ernesto Bertarelli (net worth $11 billion). Continuing the tradition, three of the four boats competing in the 34th America’s Cup were financed by billionaires including Artemis Racing’s Torbjörn Törnqvist (a Swedish oil magnate worth $8.7 billion) and Luna Rossa’s Patrizio Bertelli (Prada owner worth $6.7 billion). Team New Zealand’s boat, uniquely, has been funded by various corporate sponsors leading their AC72, the Aotearoa, to be nicknamed the “sailing billboard” though $32 million in funding was also provided by the government of New Zealand!
For the 34th America’s Cup regatta Ellison choose AC72s, catamarans named for the length of the carbon-fiber hulls (72 feet) which have rigid, 131-foot tall wing-sails (these are 90 feet shorter than Ellison’s sail in 2010) and daggerboards (retractable keels or hydrofoils) in the center of the twin hulls. There were supposed to be anywhere from 8-12 challengers but there were only three and there were times when it was not clear that any of the three was going to remain in the race. The cost of fielding an AC72 is over $100 million. The extremely tall, narrow-sailed catamarans are most exciting to watch when they are “foiling” (or hydroplaning on the daggerboards), but this is also what makes them so dangerous. AC72s average about 33-35 miles per hour (29.17-30.21 knots) reaching speeds of up to 54-miles an hour (46.94 knots), and are unstable, due particularly to their tall sails, especially in high winds.
A New York Times's article mentioned photographer Mike Escamilla who as a professional stuntman and BMX rider has made a name for himself capturing extreme sports. He said that he's been in a lot of situations where he doesn't get scared--"I get concerned," and at the most, "very concerned," after only 25 minutes on an AC72, though, he said it "was one of the gnarliest" things he's ever done. He had good reason to feel this way. One of Oracle’s AC72s tipped over in October, 2012 requiring the mast to be rebuilt from scratch. Then Artemis Racing’s AC72 capsized in May during a practice run, killing the two-time Olympian crewman Andrew “Bart” Simpson and destroying the catamaran. After Simpson died, wind speed limits were imposed on subsequent racing, but technical problems including a problem with the lift system for the foils, a broken control arm for the sail, electronic and hydraulic failures have continued to plague the cutting edge, hyper-valued AC72s.
On those occasions when the AC72s have not face cutting-edge design problems, Luna Rossa has dominated Artemis Racing and Emirates New Zealand has dominated Luna Rossa for the Louis Vuitton Cup--the round robin which decided the challenger who would face the defending champion Oracle USA. The pattern of dominance of one team over another seemed to repeat itself as the finals got underway and New Zealand took a commanding 7-point lead over Oracle. It turned out that the Kiwis main advantage was their experience racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup because Orace soon mounted a startling come back as they gained hard-earned experience racing against them. Oracle came back to tie the regatta 8-8, overcoming a 2-point deficit-imposted penalty. On September 25, Oracle beat Emirates to reatin the cup in race 19 by covering nearly 12 nautical miles in 23 minutes 24 seconds reaching a high speed of 44.33 knots (51 miles per hour).
This gallery begins with images of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and America’s Cup World Series regattas which were contested in the smaller, AC45 catamarans. The AC World Series was held in 2012 and the Red Bull Youth regatta was held between the Louis Vuitton Cup round robin races and the America's Cup finals. Although teh America's Cup World Series otherwise had no direct bearing on the America's Cup finals, Oracle was found to have cheated in the regatta, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, when “A five-pound combination of lead and resin was found inside the bow strut on one Oracle boat. Bags of lead of roughly the same weight were found in similar positions on the other two boats.” These weights were added to keep the bow down which makes the catamaran’s sail faster. Consequently, Oracle was penalized two races in the America’s Cup final, their wing trimmer and two shore team members were eliminated from the regatta, a fourth member was suspended from the first four races, and a fifth was given a warning. The team was also fined $250,000 a small amount given the vast sums involved this competition, by the International Sailing Federation. This was the second time Oracle had been fined for cheating. Earlier they were penalized for sending a spy to photograph the Prada Luna Rossa's boat.