America’s Cup racing hit the harbor of New York City this weekend for the first time since 1920 and so did the crowds, as throngs of spectators lined the waterfronts of lower Manhattan and Jersey City to watch this world-class sailing competition. After a rainy week, and windless Saturday which cancelled the race, the sun finally came out on Sunday to shine brightly on a thrilling winner-take-all final.
No lead was safe as the wind shifted through wide arcs from the west to the north. It ranged anywhere from 5 to 20 knots — stopping the boats dead in the water, then slingshoting them forward with huge gusts. Emirates Team New Zealand dramatically unhooked itself from a starting buoy tangled on its rudder, and tactfully maneuvered the win in the opening event of the 2016 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series is the preliminary competition among the six countries in the 35th America’s Cup — United States, Great Britain, France, Japan, New Zealand and Sweden — to be held in Bermuda in June of 2017. Points earned count toward the final competition and determine who will take on defending champion Oracle Team USA.
America’s Cup qualifiers were staged in New York Harbor from 1870 to 1920 before the competition was moved to Newport, Rhode Island. The return to the city was made possible by the faster, lighter boats now used — wing-sailed, carbon-fiber catamarans designed to fly above the water on hydrofoils — perfect for the harbor’s shallow waters. Navigating those waters, however, provided numerous logistical challenges. The harbor traffic of ferries, tugboats, barges and other vessels had to be diverted. Plus there is the rapid current of the Hudson River, as well as the effects on the wind created by the tall buildings flanking the racecourse on both sides of the river. But judging by the popularity and success of the event, one hopes America’s Cup Racing is here to stay in the Big Apple.
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series now moves onto Chicago, June 10-12.
Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series New York Final Standings
1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 52 points
2. Oracle Team USA – 50 points
3. Groupama Team France – 44 points
4. SoftBank Team Japan – 42 points
5. Land Rover BAR – 42 points
6. Artemis Racing – 40 points
Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Overall Standings
1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 244 points
2. Oracle Team USA – 236 points
3. Land Rover BAR – 227 points
4. SoftBank Team Japan – 203 points
5. Artemis Racing – 201 points
6. Groupama Team France – 194 points