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What’s Up With the America’s Cup San Francisco, CA, July through September By Jan Pehrson A typical AC72, the boat being sailed in the America’s Cup. Shown here is Hydrofoil Emirates Team New Zealand (although they did not make the cut to compete in the Louis Vuitton Cup), Photo by Chris Cameron.

The 34th America’s Cup is not your grandfather’s yacht race. The oldest trophy in international sport, the America’s Cup was first contested in 1851 and pre-dates the modern Olympics by 45 years. This year’s format for “The Cup”— the oldest trophy in international sport—departs radically from the past. A mission of the 2013 America’s Cup is to revolutionize the viewing experience. Racing will be visible to crowds lining the San Francisco shoreline, and also to fans on TV. Graphics overlaid on live television images will aid viewers’ comprehension, illustrating where the competitors are positioned on the racecourse. A new rule has been developed—the AC72 rule. Racing will be in two-hulled catamarans, 72 feet long and powered by wing sails towering 131 feet in the air. The “Giant Cats” are designed with hydrofoils that lift the hulls clear out of the water. This combination of aero and hydro efficiency could see the AC72 near 50 knots (57 mph) boat speed on the racecourse. Sailed by a crew of 11, the blistering speeds demand more effort and coordination than any previous Cup yacht. ORACLE TEAM USA dramatically illustrated this last year when they capsized their AC72 under the Golden Gate Bridge during training, resulting in a dramatic rescue and a badly damaged wing. To see a video of the raw power of these boats, go to, and search for “AC72 Hydrofoiling.”

This summer’s events will be: Louis Vuitton Cup: the America’s Cup Challenger Series, July 4-Aug. 30. Teams are competing in AC72s from Sweden, New Zealand, and Italy. Red Bull Youth America’s Cup: National teams of sailors aged 19 to 24, Sept. 1-4. Racing will be in smaller, 45-footlong versions of the AC72s. Ten youth teams have qualified: Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand (2), Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and United States (2) America’s Cup Finals: between the winners of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, and ORACLE TEAM USA, the defender – September 7-21 Note: Just before going to press in May, an America’s Cup boat, the Swedish Artemis Racing team, flipped over, killing one crewmember who was trapped under the boat. Sailing was halted until race officials could analyze what happened. Jan Pehrson is a sailing photojournalist who spends summers in San Francisco, CA, and winters in St. Pete Beach, FL. Jan is a racing and cruising sailor and Coast Guard licensed skipper and has written about sailing for many years. Directly from the America’s Cup in San Francisco this summer, she will be reporting for SOUTHWINDS through the September finals. Contact her at


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June 2013


Profile for SOUTHWINDS Magazine