The America’s Cup is one of the longest running and most prestigious sporting events in the world, beginning in 1851 when the Royal Yacht Squadron of the United Kingdom opened up the annual regatta around the Isle of Wight to all international competition. One country answered that invite, the United States, sending a team from the New York Yacht Club on a schooner named the America.
The Americans found themselves off to a rough start, fouling their anchor line and losing a full six minutes to the fleet. However, after recovering and with a bit of handy navigation from a local pilot, the Americans came back and passed all 15 British yachts racing that day.
The prize, a silver mug named the “100 Sovereigns Cup,” made its way back to the New York Yacht Club where is was renamed after the winning vessel to become “The America’s Cup.”
The Americans defended this cup as though it has always been there, and for 132 years no other country came close to defeating the New York Yacht Club. If fact at one point the cup was bolted into her case, saying she would never again leave New York. To date this is the longest winning streak in all of sports history.
This all changed in 1983, when Alan Bond and the 12 Metre yacht Australia II, pulled off what until then had seemed impossible. Designed by Ben Lexcen and skippered by John Bertrand, she was the first ever 12 Metre to compete with a winged keel. Overcoming a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 over Dennis Conner aboard Liberty, the Australians heralded in a new era of America’s Cup racing.
This set up the 1987 America’s Cup, which man consider to be the greatest of all time. Dennis Conner, the same man who lost it for the Americans in 1983 and disgraced from the New York Yacht Club, returned to his hometown of San Diego to put together his own racing syndicate, The Stars and Stripes campaign.
Over the course of four years and the development of four yachts, Conner competed in over 163 races, beating out 11 teams from 6 nations to earn the chance to challenge Australia off the coast of Fremantle.
Aboard Stars & Stripes ’87, US-55, Dennis swept the Australians 4-0 winning back the cup for the United States and solidifying one of the greatest comeback stories of all time. Though the technology and format has changed, the spirit of the America’s Cup remains, and we look forward to having you join us in celebrating the history of one of the World’s greatest sporting events.