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Photo: Courtesy of geography.org.uk

For the first time since 1920, NYC has been given the distinct honor of hosting an America’s Cup race. Regarded as one of the most prominent sailing competitions on the planet, the 35th America’s Cup race will kick off its NYC event on Friday May 6th with an opening ceremony and practice racing. An event village will be set up in the Brookfield Place Waterfront Plaza on the 7th and 8th and will be open from 11 am- 6pm each day. The hour and a half race is scheduled to begin at 2pm on the lower Hudson River off of the Battery Park Esplanade.

The race’s return to New York is long overdue considering the rich history that ties the two together. In 1851, a member of the then seven-year-old New York Yacht Club named John Cox Stevens put together a six-man team with the purpose of building a yacht to compete in England’s racing circuit. Stevens’ ship, which he named America, easily won a race against the Royal Yacht Squadron. The prize was a trophy called the 100 Guinea Cup, but would later become known as America’s Cup in honor of the winning vessel. Rather than keeping the cup for themselves, a Deed of Gift was drawn up to designate the trophy as “a perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations.” And so, the America’s Cup competition was created.
The New York Yacht Club would go on to dominate the competition, defending the cup for an astounding 132 years until they were bested by a team of Australian challengers in 1983. That loss snapped the longest winning streak in sporting history.

The current America’s Cup title defender is Oracle Team USA from the Golden Gate Yacht Club based out of San Francisco. While five other teams are vying for a chance at the title, only one will get a shot to race head to head against the defending champion in Bermuda in 2017. That team will be decided over a series of races. The team with the most points at the end of the series will then become the sole challenger in a winner-takes-all race against Oracle Team USA. The prize: the oldest international sporting trophy and of course bragging rights.

-by James Baginski

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