This week marked a major milestone in the long-anticipated wait for the 35th America’s Cup.
The greatest race on water is now less than 100 days away, and across Bermuda preparations continue apace for the incredible events that will unfold.
From May 26 to June 27 the event will take place on the Great Sound, the stadium-style setting for the racecourse that will play host to the fastest boats in America’s Cup history, raced by the greatest sailors in the world.
Below, Sir Russell Coutts, chief executive officer of the America’s Cup, outlines why he expects this year’s event to be the best in the competition’s 166-year history.
“One hundred days to go until the start of the 35th America’s Cup is a major milestone, one that really brings home just how close we all are to the start of what I am sure is going to be the greatest America’s Cup yet.
“When you see the progress that’s being made every day at the America’s Cup Village site in Dockyard, it’s now possible to visualise how the final village will look. We’ve started construction of our largest and most premium hospitality structure and we’ve released a video fly-through, which is a simulation of what the racecourse and the America’s Cup Village will look like, and that just serves to increase the anticipation and excitement even more.
“Another sign of how close we are to the start of the action is the launching of the America’s Cup Class boats the teams will race in May and June. The step forward that these boats will have, in performance terms, is incredible. Races that, in past America’s Cup events, took hours, will now be played out in around 22 minutes.
“Incredibly the boats will perform at least the same number of manoeuvres within this time, meaning this new format will place a premium on crew fitness and making accurate tactical decisions within this much more limited time frame.
“In the right conditions, the boats will most likely stay up on their foils for the entire race, which is going to produce fast moving racing for everyone watching at the venue, as well as the millions of people watching on television and on the internet.
“As with all match racing, the start will be very important, as will the positioning and having smooth, well co-ordinated tacks and gybes. It’s going to be fascinating to see which teams will eventually qualify for the final races.
“In addition to the America’s Cup events, we will have the next generation of sailing superstars fighting it out in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, racing exactly the same foiling AC45 catamarans the America’s Cup teams have just used to compete in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.
“Those teams will be running fleet races, compared to the America’s Cup itself which is all match racing, and the sight of eight AC45 foiling boats, raced by young guns hungry to show they have what it takes to move up to the ultimate level in the America’s Cup, well that’s going to be fascinating.
“At the other end of the spectrum, will be a celebration of our incredible America’s Cup history, with the majestic beauty of the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta and the America’s Cup J Class Regatta, involving some of the most magnificent and graceful boats to ever race in the America’s Cup.
“Finally I want to touch on the America’s Cup Endeavour Programme. This is an incredibly important part of the America’s Cup, using sailing to inspire and educate thousands of young Bermudians and around the world, and making sure that we create a positive lasting legacy.
“We have just seen two young Bermudian sailors, Ahzai Smith and Christopher Raymond, winning in the Gold and Silver Fleet races in the O’Pen Bic National Championships in New Zealand, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that those young sailors achieved something incredibly special.
“Those boys are shining examples of what the America’s Cup Endeavour Programme aims to achieve — creating opportunities that its participants had surely never dreamt of, and then helping them grab that chance and achieve more than they thought they could.
“The America’s Cup Endeavour Program would not exist without the support and help of a number of important partners, and the America’s Cup and all the events around it could not happen without the hard work, drive and determination of thousands of people, in Bermuda and worldwide.
“However, all this work is being done to create the greatest race on water, and now, less than 100 days until it starts, it is all becoming very real. The countdown continues!”