Following the announcement yesterday that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have approved the agreement to host the Americas Cup in San Francisco September 7 to 22, 2013 Jeff Beneville, the Executive Vice President for US Operations at Y.CO talks about the America’s Cup. He is a veteran of the 1987 and 1988 America’s Cup campaigns.
“As a proud member of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC), the 1983 America’s Cup was a big event. Yachting’s greatest trophy had been successfully defended by the NYYC since we outraced the English off the Isle of Wight 132 years before. Pundits claim it’s the longest winning streak in history, or a sporting legacy never to be repeated. They’re probably right on both counts.
That sultry summer, Australian businessman Alan Bond arrived here in Newport with an air of confidence and a boat with a funny-looking bottom. His yacht, Australia II – a Ben Lexcen designed 40ft (12m) – was balanced undersea by a winged keel. This controversial horizontal foil very possibly resulted in Bond’s 4-3 regatta victory over the NYYC’s Dennis Conner.
But if there’s one thing Conner’s not, it’s a quitter. Four years later off the Fremantle coast, he took the cup back in Stars & Stripes 87, a radical heavy-wind design that he’d trialed in the trade winds off Waikiki. The score? 4-0.
Yacht design has made radical leaps since then. Carbon fibre booms and Kevlar rigging became standard during the 1980s. Men like Conner – with whom I was lucky enough to race – and Ted Turner instilled a new degree of professionalism into the sport. Indeed, the America’s Cup syndicates and Whitbread Round the World Race captains used Newport as a recruiting ground for ocean racing talent. I started racing in Newport in the mid 1980s as a grinder, which involves winching several tons of sail each race. It was physically extreme. But compared to today’s carbon fibre boats, our heavy aluminium 81ft (24m) Maxi yachts were lucky to break 15 knots on a screaming reach.
How times change. A few months ago, PUMA Ocean Racing’s 70ft (21m) Mar Mostro was in Newport as it prepared for the Volvo Ocean Race (the modern-day Whitbread trophy). At 14 tons it weighs a tenth of the America’s Cup entries from a century ago. Yet in open racing, it can achieve speeds of 40 knots or more.
If you think that’s advanced, then wait until the America’s Cup World Series pulls into Newport in late June and early July 2012. Race rules are as tight as Formula 1, so technical innovation is key. While Grand Prix racing cars boast double diffusers and DRS, these AC45ft (14m) catamarans use rigid wings and soft sails. The planned regatta courses will offer plenty of high-speed, near-shore action and stadium-like surrounds. The best seats will be from the deck of any East Coast charter vessel. For me, the only place better would be back aboard the racing yachts themselves.”
The dates for this year’s (2012) racing for the America’s Cup World Series,
the global circuit of events leading up to the 2013 America’s Cup regatta
in San Francisco, were also confirmed yesterday:
AC World Series Naples, Italy: April 11-15, 2012
AC World Series Venice, Italy: May 15-20, 2012
AC World Series Newport, USA: June 26-July 1, 2012
AC World Series San Francisco, USA: August 21-26, 2012
AC World Series San Francisco, USA: October 4-7, 2012
For more information on the America’s Cup Race please see their website.