The first raceIn 1851, a member of the New York Yacht Club, John Cox Stevens, sailed to England to make some money competing in yachting events. His boat America participated in a race around the Isle of Wight and, unexpectedly, won against 14 British yachts. At the time, Great Britain was considered the dominant power on the seas – a popular patriotic song claimed: “Britannia rules the waves!” Stevens returned to the US as a hero. He donated the trophy to the New York Yacht Club; it was to be “a perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations.” The competition took the name of the boat that won the first race, and so the America’s Cup was born.
The longest winning streak in sports historyThe British wanted the Cup back. In 1870 Englishman James Ashbury raced against 16 American boats, but only came 10th. The following year he asked to race against only one boat and in a best-of-seven match. The Americans accepted, but again Ashbury was defeated. The British tried to win the Cup 14 more times, but always lost. In 1970, a new competition was established – the Challenger Selection Series – to select the challenger among the growing number of competitors that wanted to participate in the Cup. Australian boats began to win this competition and went on to race in the America’s Cup. They were defeated by the Americans 6 times before, finally, winning in 1983. This ended the New York Yacht Club’s 132-year-long reign, the longest winning streak in sports history.
Italy and the America’s CupSince 1983 there have been 11 Cups. The Americans have won 5, New Zealand 4. The only other winner (with 2 wins) is, incredibly, a landlocked country: Switzerland. Britain has never won the Cup, which, curiously, almost seems an exclusive property of its former colonies. Besides the ones mentioned, only one other country has competed in the America’s Cup: Italy. It won the Challenger Selection Series in 1992, 2000 and 2021. Luna Rossa’s victory in 2000 against America One was so hard-fought that it was described as the best two weeks of racing in the history of the competition. Unfortunately, the Italian boats failed to go on to win the America’s Cup. Il Moro di Venezia lost against the Americans in 1992 and Luna Rossa against the Kiwis in 2000. This year, Luna Rossa was back and raced against the defender Te Rehutai of Team New Zealand. It put up a good fight, but eventually lost 7-3.
Flying boatsOver time, the competing boats saw an incredible technological evolution. This year’s boats almost flew. When they increased speed, two wing-like arms lifted the hull out of the water. In this way, the boats could reach top speeds of 50 knots (93 km/h). In comparison, in 2000 top speeds were around 10 knots (18.6 km/h). Today’s boats are technological marvels that cost millions, designed by engineers borrowed from Formula 1 and the aerospace industry. Indeed, the America’s Cup is brutally selective: only those who can afford big budgets and years of research and training can compete. The America’s Cup is not just a sporting event, it is also a competition of cutting-edge technology and innovation.
USEFUL LINKS 1) Learn more about the history of the America’s Cup from its official website: https://www.americascup.com/en/history 2) Here are some interesting facts about the America’s Cup: https://www.ybw.com/boat-events/americas-cup/10-interesting-facts-americas-cup-25346 3) Read about Auckland, the venue for this year’s Cup: https://www.britannica.com/place/Auckland-New-Zealand#ref915570 4) How do America’s Cup boats ‘fly’? Here’s an explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H98nH-dvNUE 5) Here are some interesting moments aboard the boats during the Challenger Selection Series’ final (this year called The Prada Cup) between Luna Rossa and Britannia of Ineos Team UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Toi4vZO4uGs
COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and cross out the WRONG alternative (two answers are correct and one is incorrect). 1. The America’s Cup is___ (Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: Facebook, Wikimedia Commons)
- the oldest sailing competition in the world.
- the most prestigious sporting competition in the world.
- a prestigious and incredibly old sailing trophy.
- an affectionate name for the trophy of the America’s Cup.
- a trophy thus named because it’s very old and it can contain liquids, like a mug.
- a prestigious sailing event.
- was organized by the New York Yacht Club.
- was a race around the Isle of Wight.
- was won by John Cox Stevens.
- raced in two America’s Cups that had different rules.
- tried to win the Cup 14 times.
- tried to win the Cup in 1870 and 1871.
- it was undefeated for 132 years.
- it holds the longest winning streak in sports history.
- it won every Challenger Selection Series.
- former British colonies and Switzerland.
- the US, New Zealand, Switzerland and Italy.
- only 3 nations.
- won the Challenger Selection Series three times, in 1992, 2000 and 2021.
- won the Challenger Selection Series twice, in 2000 and 2021.
- lost the America’s Cup twice.
- are much faster than boats from previous competitions.
- are designed by engineers who work on Formula 1 cars.
- can fly.
- have a boat that goes faster than 50 knots.
- be very rich.
- invest in technological research.