WHAT IS THE AMERICA'S CUP?
The America's Cup is considered sailing's most prestigious event and, along with the Olympics and World Cup soccer, among the world's largest global sporting events in terms of its economic impact. It began in 1851 when the New York Yacht Club's schooner, 'America,' bested the British off the coast of England.
WHO OVERSEES IT?
The winner is responsible for choosing the site of the next race and making arrangements for it. Software billionaire Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing won the cup in 2010 off the coast of Spain. Ellison, who won the cup representing the San Francisco-based Golden Gate Yacht Club, chose the San Francisco Bay.
WHO IS COMPETING?
After organizers predicted about a dozen entries, only three competitors signed up to challenge Ellison for the America's Cup. They are: Artemis, which is representing the Royal Swedish Yacht Club; Luna Rossa Challenge, representing the Italian yacht club Circolo della Vela Sicilia and Emirates Team New Zealand, representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Competing teams can spend more than $100 million to construct and race the space-age 72-foot dual-hull boats.
WHAT ARE THE RULES?
The three challengers will compete in a series of match races beginning July 7. The top two finishers will compete in a best of seven semi-final starting Aug. 6. The first to four victories will take on Oracle Racing starting Aug. 17. The finalists will race twice-a-day in a best-of-13 series. The first to seven wins is champion.
WHAT DOES THE COURSE LOOK LIKE?
Organizers boast the 34th America's Cup will be the most accessible to on-shore spectators in the event's history. The compact course stretches from inside the Golden Gate Bridge, past Alcatraz Island to Piers 27 and 29 along San Francisco's busy waterfront district, circling in front of the city's iconic Fisherman's Wharf area.