This summer in San Francisco Bay, four teams from around the world have set sail hoping to claim the oldest trophy in international sport – the America’s Cup.
The 34th America’s Cup Finals are being held through Sept. 21 between the current cup-holder, Oracle Team USA, and an international opponent. Teams from Italy, Sweden and New Zealand competed in July and August for the right to challenge the Americans in the finals.
The Mini Page spoke with an official at America’s Cup headquarters to learn more about the sport of sailing and the historic event now under way in one of America’s most famous waterways.
Older than the Olympics
In 1851, 45 years before the first Modern Olympic Games, U.S. sailors aboard the schooner (SKOO-ner) America defeated 15 other boats in a 53-mile race around the Isle of Wight off the southern coast of Great Britain. The trophy was named after this first winner.
American yachts kept the America’s Cup in 24 challenges from 1870 to 1983. That year, an Australian boat became the first international challenger to win. Since then, teams from New Zealand, Switzerland and the U.S. have won the cup. An American team reclaimed the cup in 2010 by defeating the Swiss off the coast of Spain.
Oracle Team USA will defend its trophy against the international winner of the America’s Cup Challenger Series. Oracle Team USA’s skipper, or leader, is Jimmy Spithill, who is Australian. This will be Spithill’s fifth America’s Cup competition and his third Finals.
This 1851 painting by artist Fitz Hugh Lane shows the schooner America winning the first America’s Cup race in Britain. A schooner is a sailing ship with two or more masts, where the forward mast is smaller than the rear.