The opening race of the 35th America’s Cup will be race one of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers between the Defender, ORACLE TEAM USA, with two time America’s Cup winner Jimmy Spithill and his crew looking to start their defence of the cup in style against Groupama Team France, led by French superstar Franck Cammas. The first race, starting on May 26th at 14.00 (Bermuda time), will be the first time the America’s Cup Class (ACC) yachts and their sailing crews engage in full competitive action. The ACC race yachts are wingsail, cutting-edge catamarans that foil above the water at tremendous speed, designed and created by each of the six America’s Cup teams racing for the oldest trophy in international sport. All the 35th America’s Cup races from May 26th to June 27th 2017 will take place on the astonishing waters of Bermuda’s Great Sound, a perfect stage for the stadium-style racing that is now a core feature of America’s Cup racing.
Russell Coutts, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority, gave his thoughts on the fantastic range of events that lie ahead, and the perfect stage Bermuda offers for the 35th America’s Cup: “I’m sure everyone associated with the 35th America’s Cup is as excited as I am to be able to announce the schedule for 2017. We are looking forward to seeing fierce competition as the event kicks off with ORACLE TEAM USA against Groupama Team France as the first race of the day, followed by more exciting racing for all our America’s Cup fans and followers. It will be a fantastic spectacle.
“All the America’s Cup teams now know who they will line up with in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, allowing them to plan their race strategies for each of their double round robin races. One thing that is certain is that nobody can predict who will come out on top. That uncertainty, especially having seen how all the teams are so closely matched, shows why interest in the America’s Cup is growing so quickly worldwide.
“Bermuda is gearing up for what I believe will be the greatest America’s Cup ever and, with Bermuda’s beautiful Great Sound as the stage for the 35th America’s Cup, we have the perfect location for a truly iconic, world-class sports event. We also have a range of exciting support events which will combine to make this an unmissable five weeks of sailing action, including the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup which will showcase the best national youth teams from around the world racing in AC45 foiling catamarans, currently taking centre stage in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. In addition we have the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta and the America’s Cup J Class Regatta, featuring the most spectacular superyachts afloat today and some of the most famous America’s Cup yachts of old, all racing on the turquoise waters of Bermuda. The combination of all these elements add up to why I firmly believe this will be the greatest America’s Cup ever.”
Jimmy Spithill, Skipper of ORACLE TEAM USA and three-time winner of the America’s Cup, is clearly ready for action in Bermuda: “People will witness America’s Cup racing as they’ve never seen it before. The physical and mental demands on the athletes on board have gone up exponentially – the catamarans will be faster than last time, more maneuverable, and likely will foil all the way around the race track, given the right conditions. Most importantly, I think the competition is going to be fierce. We have six great teams preparing for racing next year and this is quite possibly shaping up to be one of the hardest, most competitive America’s Cups in its long history of over 165 years of battle.”
The racing format of the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda features all six America’s Cup teams competing in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, the round robin match racing that kicks off the 35th America’s Cup. In these opening two rounds, each competitor races every other team twice, with the challengers battling for the right to advance to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs (only the top four advance), which starts on Sunday June 4th. The current Defender, ORACLE TEAM USA, then moves straight into the America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, in which it will take on the winner of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs.
Racing Day 2 of Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Bermuda
The teams finishing first and second in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series will carry two and one points respectively into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers in 2017, putting even more pressure on all the competitors to finish the last Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event in November in Fukuoka, Japan as strongly as possible.
The top four challengers from the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers will split into two semi-finals and this second stage of the 2017 competition will run from Sunday 4th June until Monday 12th June, with the winners taking part in a finals competition to determine which team will take on ORACLE TEAM USA in the America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton.
Also at stake in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers is a bonus point for the America’s Cup Match. If the team that wins the Qualifiers (whether Defender or a challenger) also advances to the Match, it will start with a one point advantage.
ORACLE TEAM USA will not compete in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs. While the challengers improve through the heat of competition, the Defender will need to prepare on its own for the final showdown and the races to win the 35th America’s Cup.
There is a break in America’s Cup Class race proceedings from Tuesday 13th June until Saturday 17th June, in which Bermuda will play host to the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta, the qualifying stages of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, and the America’s Cup J Class Regatta, the greatest gathering ever of the iconic J Class yachts so closely linked to the rich heritage of the America’s Cup.
The America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta will be a truly awe-inspiring display of some of the world’s most impressive large sailing yachts and will provide a perfect companion piece to the America’s Cup J Class Regatta which is going to create another chapter of America’s Cup history. Never before have so many of the J Class yachts currently sailing anywhere in the world been together for one competition in the modern era, but Bermuda will bring a significant number of them together on the same waters as a prelude to the America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, a fitting tribute to the heritage of the world’s oldest international sports trophy.
Also running over these dates is the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and the return of the AC45 foiling race catamarans currently being campaigned by the America’s Cup teams in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. In Bermuda 2017 the AC45’s will be crewed by up to 16 teams of the next generation of sailing superstars, representing countries from around the world, as well as teams directly linked to the six America’s Cup teams competing in the main event.
Finally, Saturday 17th June is when ORACLE TEAM USA will take on the team that has fought its way through and earned its place in the America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton. From that Saturday until Tuesday 27th June (as needed), the two teams will go head to head in a series of races to be first to claim the seven points needed to win the America’s Cup 2017. There is a short cessation of hostilities from Monday 19th June until Wednesday 21st June when the final stages of the America’s Cup J Class Regatta and the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup finals will take place, and then the denouement of the America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, starts on Saturday 24th June.
In 2013, one of world sport’s most famous stories was played out over two weeks when ORACLE TEAM USA came back from 8-1 down against Emirates Team New Zealand, finally retaining 9-8 the trophy they won in 2010 in Valencia in arguably the greatest comeback in sailing history, if not all sport. Every single day of the planned schedule in 2013 was needed to let this story play out, and only a very confident person would make a prediction that the drama will be any less astonishing in June 2017.
For a full calendar of the on-water action, and for more news about the event between now and the start of action on 26th May 2017, stay tuned to www.americascup.com