30 Years ago Australia won the America’s Cup – it’s on again!

by Chris Kameen on July 15, 2013

200px-The_America's_CupAMERICA'S CUP 1983. AP“Do you come from a land down under” still reminds me of Australia 2 winning the Americas Cup back in 1983. I was only 9 years old and had never been sailing before and wouldn’t for another 4 years but I knew something special was happening in the world of sport.

The Americas Cup is the oldest active trophy in world sport and has essentially been in the realm of wealthy entrepreneurs battling it out to see who can spend the most money on the fastest boat, the best sailors and recently the best lawyers! For this reason and the fact that sailing has never made great TV the racing has failed to spark my interest at all since the racing in Perth in 1987. Reading about a race in a magazine or watching two boats sailing in the distance is not particularly interesting even for someone who lives to go sailing!

The last match of the America’s Cup was in Valencia in 2010 and for the first time we could watch the race live streamed on the internet.. this was a watershed moment for sailors everywhere, especially if you had a fast connection!

Well the series is on again, only this time the internet is playing a much bigger part in bringing the sport to the people. Today I watched my first full program of the Amercias Cup TV show and I was impressed by the quality of the production and footage.

The first 2 boat race of the challenger series – the Louis Vuitton Cup was held on Saturday and crickey, are these boats fast. In Australia we are used to seeing the Sydney to Hobart race with the likes of Wild Oats and Wild Thing – massive yachts battling it out and racing down the coast of Australia, now imagine a boat just 30 feet shorter doing twice the speed and quite literally flying on hydrofoils and you have this years America’s cup.

The commentary team of Andy Green and Todd Tucker do an amazing job of explaining the rules of sailing and being genuinely excited about the very one sided matches. The Louis Vuitton cup is essentially like watching the qualifying for a Grand Prix race, and so much will be talked about in terms of the technology and the outrageous speeds these boats are doing, and the boat handling will only get better. Andy certainly knows his stuff and is able to articulate this to the viewer which is no mean feat. If you’ve not done already check out the AmericasCup youtube channel and subscribe, it really is good viewing.

What does amaze me about this, is that all of these sailors started sailing in small dinghies like the ones we teach in, and the principles are exactly the same. What they are achieving in these AC72 class yachts is ground breaking – no one has done it before. That there are a great number of Aussie’s in this edition is testament to the Skiff heritage of pushing the boundaries of sailing that other countries are still trying to imitate.

The America’s cup might still be the plaything of wealthy entrepreneurs, and might appear to be far removed from the sailing we do in Sydney, but with the latest technology beaming incredible images to our computers, and the knowledge that the stars of the show started their sailing in the same little dinghies that sail out from the clubs around the harbours, this is a show I think worth watching!

 

 

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