The America’s Cup and Modernity

Published on February 10th, 2021

Yachting historian Jacques Taglang and yacht designer Francois Chevalier, who share their efforts to understand and explain the evolution of yacht performance, offer this view of America’s Cup yachts:

From the very beginning, the America’s Cup has not ceased to anger those nostalgic about the times gone by, and the 2021 flying monohulls fighting in Auckland are no exception to the rule. We all hear how today’s AC75 has no place in the world of yachting, particularly for an event so rooted in the classic match races of the 12 Metre and IACC eras.

However, in our point of view, these old-fashioned discourses have no reason to take a stand on this mythical event.

As early as 1850, the syndicate of the schooner America (above), led by John Cox Stevens, had made it clear that the vessel which would face the British champions in their waters the next summer had to be an invincible winner. Following this goal, the genius designer George Steers, the skill of the builder and rigger William H. Brown, and the sailmaker’s talent Reuben H. Brown, all contributed to the triumph of the racer.

With her inverted bow, light planking, raked masts, cotton sails with vertical widths, laced at the spars, it was all revolutionary elements never seen in Europe, America, masterfully skippered by Richard “Old Dick” Brown, brought a flawless answer. She crushed the cream of the English fleet, and her superiority influenced the development of European yacht conception over the next 25 years.

Since then, for designers, researchers, builders, and sailors, the America’s Cup has asserted itself to be a fantastic source of inspiration and innovation, always defying their quest for excellence. This has been evident throughout the 36 challenges that have taken place since 1870.

The AC75 monohulls of the 2021 Cup, flying over the water thanks to its articulated foils, are merely “leaning” on the foundation of this competition that has never been refuted in 170 years.

Going back to the past would be a terrible sign of a denial of inspiration, audacity, modernity … and young people! It would be an unprecedented blow to the principles upheld by America in 1851, and to all the contenders in the America’s Cup that have raced since…

Racing returns to the Hauraki Gulf on February 13 as the two remaining challengers vie for entry in the 36th America’s Cup Match.

More information:
• Prada Cup format, standings, and how to watch online: click here.
• Complete America’s Cup coverage: click here
• Additional America’s Cup information: click here

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