The 2017 America’s Cup – the sailing championship that marks the recommencement of the battle for the oldest international trophy in all of sports — will set course for Bermuda in 2017. To start getting the event back on the sports radar and to offer Bermuda a chance to rehearse for the races, The America’s Cup Series of exhibition races came to the island nation to test the waters.
During the weekend celebration of sailing, crews representing the USA, Great Britain, New Zealand, Japan, France and Sweden all started their quest for the America’s Cup with a short series of sprint races set against a backdrop of a festival.
All of the Bermuda dockyards was full of America’s Cup events, hospitality tents, children’s attractions, local retailers and presentations by local tourism authorities to call as much attention to Bermuda and its attractions as the America’s Cup can manage.
The Series races were supposed to fill a weekend, but Mother Nature decided not to cooperate. No wind means no sailing. That gave all in attendance a chance to party a little longer in Bermuda’s hotels and bars with the entire event’s races falling to Sunday.
In the first race, Oracle carried USA to a comeback victory, but the drama kicked off in the second heat. At the crowded start of the race, Sweden’s Artemis collided with an umpire’s boat. Those official vessels are necessary to monitor the rules of clean starts, and this one got caught in the early rush.
The violent collision demanded a restart and did serious damage to the Swedes’ vessel. It was a display of expert seamanship just watching the Swedish crew lash damaged components to the hull and rig sails that would allow the Artemis to race again. The men had roughly five minutes to make their boat seaworthy. They not only kept the Artemis afloat — they won the second race.
In the final event, New Zealand’s Artemis won — letting the Americans know that the 2017 America’s Cup could very well come down to yet another clash between the USA and the Kiwis.
It’s interesting to wonder if the America’s Cup can reclaim some of its lost notoriety and popularity when the sails are unfurled in Bermuda come 2017. In the 1980s, the Cup races were a front page affair, especially after New Zealand’s Kiwi 2 took the Cup from the USA with a controversial winged keel advancement.
As we saw with USA Basketball at the Olympics and the creation of the Dream Team, all you have to do to get America hyped about an international sporting event is beat them. So, once New Zealand took the America’s Cup the successful request to reclaim it became major sports news. But, you haven’t seen as such fuss about it since.
What makes the subdued coverage especially bizarre is the story of the last America’s Cup is arguably the greatest comeback story in the history of sports. Trailing New Zealand 8-1 in the Cup race, with the Kiwis needing just one more race win to claim the prize, the USA went on to win the next eight races in succession — bringing the America’s Cup home in a story worthy of a movie.
Time will tell if the Cup will become top fold news again. One thing is certain: Bermuda is exhausting every resource and putting it all on the line to make sure the 2017 tilt comes off before the world without a hitch.
You can explore some of the sea-going sites through the gallery below.