What Makes the America’s Cup

Published on April 5th, 2016

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
The America’s Cup is a textbook in what creates interest in an event. Chapters of flashy characters, controversy, and intrigue over its history have drawn an audience not so much for the competition, but for the occasion.

While the 2013 edition will be remembered for the comeback, it grew its audience from the audacity of the boats, the tragic death of one sailor, and the cheating scandal of the defender?

With an effort now for the teams to “play nice”, and the near neutralization of multihull yacht design, will there be sufficient reason to watch the 2017 edition? Television broadcasters are signing up to showcase races, but will they get an audience without disputes and deception?

For most committed fans of the America’s Cup, it is the procession toward the first race that draws interest, and it was the 25th Match in 1983 that provided more maneuvers and tactics than the seven race series won by Royal Perth Yacht Club.

Unlike now when the club of the defense, Golden Gate Yacht Club, is a mere puppet of the defender Oracle Team USA, in 1983 the defense club – New York Yacht Club – was large and in charge.

New York Yacht Club, which had successfully defended the Cup over a period of 132 years, fought hard for the Auld Mug to remain affixed to its stand on 37 West 44th Street. And during the summer of 1983, they were certain the Australian challenge was a cheat.

Their efforts to halt the Match were centered on the design of the boat, an aspect which at that time was required to be done by a national of the country being represented. While it was ultimately decided that the Match would proceed, a new book now released has confirmed their suspicions.

The book, Australia II and the America’s Cup – The untold, inside story of The Keel, was written by Joop Slooff, the Dutch scientist that contributed to the design of the infamous winged keel.

“Over the summer of 1983 my involvement with the development of the keel had become the subject of a hot, public dispute between New York Yacht Club and the Australians,” Slooff explained. “However, the Australians claimed the design of the keel was only the work of Ben Lexcen, and were publicly ignoring my involvement. I decided to write this story already 32 years ago, shortly after Australia II’s historical last race, because I thought the world had the right to know, but I never found the time to do it. But here now is the story of my role in the development of the revolutionary keel that won the Cup.”

Ah yes, the Australians pulled it off. Classic stuff from the textbook. Can the America’s Cup remain rare if it is only about speed racing and broadcast ratings? Probably not…

To acquire the book from Amazon.com, click here.

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