The America’s Cup (also known as Auld Mug) is the oldest trophy in international sport, awarded to the winner of a series of match races between two sailing yachts. The America’s Cup is contested by the defender (the yacht club that currently holds the America’s Cup) and the challenger.
The cup dates back to 1851, when the schooner America won a race around the Isle of Wight against a number of British yachts and was awarded the ‘R.Y.S. £100 Cup’ by the Royal Yacht Squadron. The trophy was renamed after the winning yacht and was donated to the New York Yacht Club under a Deed of Gift, with the intention of the trophy becoming “a perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations.”
The first challenge was made in 1870, with the New York Yacht Club successfully defending against a challenge from the Royal Thames Yacht Club. From then on the United States began the longest winning streak in sport, defending the trophy 24 times over 132 years until Australia II won in 1983 in Newport.
The currently holders of the America’s Cup are the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, after Team New Zealand defeated Oracle Team USA representing the Golden Gate Yacht Club 7-1 on the Great Sound in Bermuda in 2017.
Who competes in the America’s Cup?
Winning the America’s Cup gives a huge advantage in the next defence of the cup, as the defender is allowed to choose the venue for the next edition as well set the majority of the rules of engagement.
Yacht clubs challenging for the America’s Cup must meet a strict set of criteria in order to be eligible and range from across a number of international clubs.
The Protocol is agreed between the Defender and the Challenger of Record, who organise the events prior to the main event. The Defender is guaranteed to race for the America’s Cup but the Challenger is determined by a series held before the main event.
The America’s Cup World Series are a number of events held across the world contested by the challengers, as they test their boats ahead of the Challenger Selection Series.
All teams, including the current defender compete in the Challenger Selection Series held at the America’s Cup venue, with a round robin where all teams race against each other, followed by a repêchage round involving just the remaining Challengers and then a Final to determine the remaining Challenger for the America’s Cup.
The Defender of the 2021 America’s Cup is Emirates Team New Zealand (representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron – New Zealand) with the confirmed Challengers:
- Luna Rossa Challenge (Circolo della Vela Sicilla – Italy)
- American Magic (New York Yacht Club – USA)
- Ineos Team UK (Royal Yacht Squadron – United Kingdom)
- Stars & Stripes Team USA (Long Beach Yacht Club – USA
When is the America’s Cup?
The America’s Cup is usually held every 3-4 years, with the America’s Cup World Series held in the years building up to the main event and the Challenger Selection Series held in the weeks before to determine the Challenger to the Defender.
The 2021 America’s Cup will be held from Saturday 6th March to Monday 15th March 2021, with the Prada Cup (Challenger Selection Series) to be held from the 15th January to the 22nd February.
America’s Cup World Series were planned for the 23rd-26th April 2020 and 4th-7th June 2020 but were subsequently cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The last and therefore now only America’s Cup World Series will be held between the 17th and 20th December 2020.
Where is the America’s Cup?
The venue for the America’s Cup is determined by the defender.
The 2021 America’s Cup will be sailed in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, on the east coast of the North Island, in Auckland City’s Waitematā Harbour.
America’s Cup World Series were planned for:
- 23rd-26th April 2020 – Cagliari, Sardinia
- 4th-7th June 2020 – Portsmouth, United Kingdom
- 17th-20th December 2020 – Auckland, New Zealand
How do I get to the America’s Cup?
The Race Village will be be based in the heart of Auckland’s city centre, at the start of Hobson Wharf.
Airport – Auckland Airport is the largest and busiest airport in New Zealand, with domestic and international flights to nearly 50 destinations across Europe, North America, South America, Oceania and Asia. This includes an indirect fly to London Heathrow, via Los Angeles.
The most convenient way of reaching the Airport is the SkyBus which runs to Auckland ($17 one way) and North Harbour ($24 one way) in about 50 minutes.
Bus – InterCity has buses running to Auckland (SkyCity Coach Terminal) from most of the North Island, and indirectly from the South Island.
Go Kiwi depart from opposite the Ferry Building on Quay Street and has a daily shuttle to the Coromandel Peninsula.
Public transport in Auckland – Auckland has an extensive public transport network for travelling around the city by bus, ferry or train. You can use Auckland Transport’s journey planner here on information on how to reach Hobson Wharf, or the great vantage points at Takapuna Beach, North Head and Bastion Point.
Train – The Northern Explorer departs from Auckland Strand Station at 7:45am on Monday’s, Thursday’s and Saturday’s, arriving at Wellington at 6:25pm. The train travels through Papakura, Hamilton, Otorohanga, Tongariro National Park, Ohakune, Palmerston North and Paraparaumu.
How do I get tickets to the America’s Cup?
Access to the America’s Cup Race Village is free, which will feature entertainment, race viewing and the opportunity to visit team bases. For the racing, the race course locations have been selected to enable viewing from both the shore and on the water. Takapuna Beach, North Head and Bastion Point will offer some great vantage points.