HomeINTERESTThe History of the America’s Cup; The World’s Oldest International Competition

The History of the America’s Cup; The World’s Oldest International Competition

Humans have long been fascinated by the open seas, which is unsurprisingly considering more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is made up of the ocean. Ever since the most primitive sailing vessels were built and launched into the water, we humans have competed against one another in various sailing races. Still, none are as famous and historic as the America’s Cup.


The America’s Cup is a trophy awarded in sailing and is the oldest international competition still operating today. America’s Cup matches see two sailing yacht clubs, the current holder of the trophy (known as the defender) and a challenger, race around an agreed course. It is one of the most prestigious sailing trophies and, as such, attracts some of the world’s best sailors, yacht designers, and extremely wealthy entrepreneurs and sponsors. Although there is no fixed schedule, America’s Cup matches tend to take place every three to four years, partly due to the astronomical costs involved; it is believed that the 2013 winner spent $300 million on the competition! America’s Cup matches instill excitement in the sailing community, with many backing their favorite yacht club at VegasBetting.com and thousands more intently following the action worldwide.

First-Ever America’s Cup

The competition first occurred in 1851 and was then known as the “R.Y.S £100 Cup.” The British Royal Yacht Squadronawarded the Cup to the winner of a race around the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. The inaugural champion was a schooner called America, owned by a syndicate of members from the New York Yacht Club; the club has since become the most successful in America’s Cup history.


Two years after its victory, the syndicate donated the trophy to the New York Yacht Club under a Deed of Gift that renamed it to America’s Cup and required the award to be made available for international competition.

The New York Yacht Club dominated the America’s Cup from its inception. Indeed, the New York Yacht Club held the America’s Cup from 1857 through to 1983, a reign of 132 years. The long-standing reign remains to this day the longest winning streak in any sport.

From 1857, the New York Yacht Club successfully defended the trophy 24 times in a row before the Royal Perth Yacht Club finally managed to defeat the legendary American sailing team in 1983.

The Incredible 1983 America’s Cup


The 1983 America’s Cup was an epic race held in September 1983. Liberty, crewed by skipper Dennis Conner, Scott Vogel, Tom Whidden, mainsheet trimmer John Marshall, and navigator Halsey Chase Herreshoff, won all of the defender trials, and the New York Yacht Club confirmed Liberty would represent the club.


Australia II was the challenger in 1983, a 12 Metre class yacht designed by Ben Lexcen for the Royal Perth Yacht Club. It featured a controversial “winged keel” that the New York Yacht Club argued was not legal, but Australia II was allowed to race nonetheless.


The American US-40 yacht Libert won the first two races by margins of over a minute, partly because the KA-6 Australia II yacht suffered equipment failure. Australia II won the third race by a margin of 3:14 before Liberty sailed into a seemingly unassailable 3-1 lead after the fourth race. However, under the expert guidance of skipper John Bertrand, Australia II won the next three races. It not only marked the first time that the New York Yacht Club had failed to defend the America’s Cup successfully but was also the first match requiring a sixth race, never mind a seventh.

The Royal Yacht Squadron Returns for the 2024 America’s Cup

On March 19, 2021, only two days after the Emirates Team New Zealand, representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, had won the 2021 America’s Cup, the champions announced they had accepted a Notice of Challenge for the 37th America’s Cup from the Royal Yacht Squadron, which INEOS Team UK represents.

The Royal New Zealand Commodore, Aaron Young, announced the acceptance of the challenge on behalf of the defenders.

“The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron have received and accepted a challenge for the 37th America’s Cup from our long-standing British friends at Royal Yacht Squadron Racing. It is great to once again have the RYSR involved, given they were the first yacht club that presented this trophy over 170 years ago, which really started the legacy of the America’s Cup. Along with Emirates Team New Zealand, we look forward to working through the details of the next event with them.”

Details for the 37th America’s Cup are still being finalized, but some have already been agreed upon. First, the race will take place in Barcelona, Spain, between August and October 2024. Many expected the race to occur in New Zealand because 33 of the previous 36 cup matches were held in the defender’s home waters.

Second, the AC75 racing yacht will be used, as it was in the 2021 edition of the world-famous race. The 23m monohull yacht features a soft wing sail and no keel.

It has also been agreed that a new crew nationality rule is in place for running the 2024 America’s Cup. All crew members must either hold a passport of the country of the team’s yacht club or have been physically present in that country for two of the previous three years before March 18, 2021.

Finally, both teams agreed to restrict their yacht building to a singular AC75 craft; at least two are often made in preparation for the race. Limiting teams to a single yacht and incorporating several other cost-reducing measures will likely attract more challengers and help establish new teams. As previously mentioned, competing in the America’s Cup comes with huge costs, usually at least $150 million and often up to $300 million, which severely limits teams from even considering mounting a challenge.

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