Written by April Thygeson
“Your Majesty, there is no second.”
Or, as Vince Lombardi* might have said, “Winning isn’t everything. . . it’s the only thing.” America’s Cup is to sailing what the Super Bowl is to football (the American kind). Or, more appropriately, America’s Cup is to sailing what the World Cup is to football (the international kind). The world’s best sailors compete in the world’s fastest boats and in the summer of 2013, the championship showdown will take place in our very own backyard arena: the San Francisco Bay.
In August of 1851, a schooner from the New York Yacht Club named America outran fourteen British ships in a race around the Isle of Wight. Queen Victoria watched from the deck of the Royal Yacht as the America passed by in first position, winning the race by a huge margin. The Queen asked her signal-master which boat was in second place. “Ah, your Majesty, there is no second,” came his reply. So great was the America’s win that the trophy and eventually the race itself were renamed in her honor. Over the next century and a half, that signal master’s brief phrase would epitomize the resolute pursuit of excellence exhibited by each and every challenger for America’s Cup.
The competitors and the boats have changed dramatically since 1851, as the race has inspired major advances in yacht design. The 2013 America’s Cup will feature seventy-two foot catamarans with rigid wingsails and masts more than four times the height of an NFL goal post.. Teams of eleven crewmembers will race around the bay with one hull in the air at speeds exceeding thirty knots and they’ll be close enough to watch from shore.
The America’s Cup trophy currently resides across the bay at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, which is home to Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle racing team, the defender of the cup since their dramatic win in Valencia in 2010. As the winning syndicate, BMW Oracle Racing has chosen to defend the cup here at home. For us Bay Area sailing enthusiasts, this is like if the 49ers were the defending champions in Super Bowl at Candlestick Park, and we were all issued a free spectator ticket. We at OCSC are particularly excited to be stationed at the 50 yard line and we’ll be sharing that excitement with you over the next eighteen months. Stay tuned for America’s Cup news, events, lectures, and activities.
*This quote is more accurately attributed to UCLA coach Henry Russell Sanders, who said it first, though it was later made popular by Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.