37th America’s Cup : Fast Forward – The city of Barcelona in 2024

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A lot of questions are starting to be answered about what Barcelona can expect come September 2024 and the start of the 37th America’s Cup. To say that it will be like nothing before is an understatement.

Technology at the very pinnacle of sailing performance has moved on so rapidly since even the last America’s Cup in 2021 and a sharp vision is emerging of the event in Barcelona being not only the most competitive but also a leading global sporting spectacle for sustainability alongside offering a unique pathway for tomorrow’s competitors. History is set to look kindly on this watershed Cup with Barcelona and its wonderful, vibrant, welcoming people as the perfect hosts.

© Hamish Hooper / Emirates Team New Zealand

Down in Auckland this week we’ve seen the stunning launch of a new class of yacht – the AC40 – and its performance on the very first day of commissioning has made the sailing world sit up and take notice. Towed out by ‘Chase Zero’ the very first Hydrogen powered foiling support vessel of Emirates Team New Zealand, the sustainable vision of what Barcelona can expect is on full display. Over the coming weeks and months, teams will be receiving their own AC40s and by the summer months of 2023 (July), those teams will be thronging the downtown Port Vell and Port Olimpic just along the beachfront as training and acclimatisation gathers pace.

The AC40 is the boat designated to be used for the Youth & Women’s America’s Cup regattas in an innovative twist to Cup formats of before that will encourage a pathway to be created for athletes of the next generation to compete in the white-hot intensity of this fast-coming competition. The flying ‘foiling’ boats will be equalised in terms of performance and the teams will compete on a national basis representing both a single yacht club and country.

For Spanish watchers, the great news is that Spain will be entering both the Youth & Women’s America’s Cups through the Real Club Nàutico de Barcelona and the rapidly regenerating Port Olimpic with its renewed purpose and outlets will be the base for the AC40 teams where spectators can get up close to the boats, the competitors and all the action. It promises to be a celebration of sport that is matched perhaps only by the Olympic Games or the World Cup.

Already the City of Barcelona is being treated to the sight of Alinghi Red Bull Racing, one of the most famous teams in America’s Cup history, taking up residence and starting their sailing programme. Representing the Société Nautique de Genève, Alinghi Red Bull Racing has settled in to the city well with big plans to enhance fan engagement through their involvement in the 37th America’s Cup via a significant team base that will sit in the heart of the Placa de L’Odissea at the Cinessa site, a short walk across the Rambla del Mar walkway. For now, Alinghi Red Bull Racing are housed at the western end of the port in the Marina Barcelona but expect the team to be highly visual in short order.

© Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

Meanwhile, in the past week, the team owne, John Michael ‘Hap’ Fauth and representatives of the New York Yacht Club American Magic syndicate visited their site at the MB92 superyacht facility that is the first to be cleared, ready for the team’s arrival and now in their possession. Working closely with the Port of Barcelona, as all the teams are doing in a spirit of collaboration, the New York Yacht Club American Magic Team will start to build out their plans for pontoons, cranes and the base structure before construction work begins in 2023.

With base allocations now fully confirmed, architects and builders will take centre stage as that all important construction work gets underway and the regeneration of the Port Vell begins in earnest. The uplift to the local economy will be significant almost immediately and by 2023 tourism will undoubtedly be boosted as interest starts to build and the teams get sailing and training in earnest. As sports teams operating on the leading edge of design and technology, the numbers of sailors, support staff, shore teams and management tend to number well over 100 per team and budgets are akin to Formula 1 programmes.

Fast forward to 2024 though, and the launch of the new AC75s that will compete for the America’s Cup after a series of Challenger Selection Trials before the ultimate ‘Match’ against Emirates Team New Zealand for the Cup itself, and Barcelona will be the beating heart of the sporting world with thousands of spectators filling the city to view the racing. Grandstanding is planned for the area on the open expanses surrounding the W Hotel whilst the America’s Cup village will stretch down the port walkway in front of the Ronda Litoral and promises to be a focal point with big screens, attractions and eateries for spectators to enjoy.

To experience an America’s Cup is like nothing else in sports. The intrigue, the intense competition, the spectacle, the determination, the technology – it’s mind-blowing. And on the water, the racecourses just off the beach will be filled with spectator craft of all shapes and sizes whilst helicopters will be buzzing the skies capturing the images and sending them around the world.

Get ready Barcelona. The 37th America’s Cup is coming fast.