Everything You Need To Know About The 36th America’s Cup

January 21, 2021

How To Watch + Race Updates

The world’s most talented sailors are battling it out in a race where there is no second. The 36th America’s Cup is underway in Auckland, New Zealand. Sailing teams compete every four years for a chance to win the coveted trophy and the championship title. This year, the yacht’s feature a mind-blowing design — the AC75 foiling monohull. Here’s what you need to know to follow the 36th America’s Cup, plus race updates.

Quick Rundown

The Prada Cup, or the challenger series, is currently underway in Auckland. American Magic (USA), INEOS Team UK (Britain), and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (Italy) are competing in four round robin races from January 15 to February 22. The winner of the challenger series competes against defending champions, Emirates Team New Zealand, who won the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda. The home team plays no part in the challenger racing as they’re already qualified for America’s Cup Match in March. The winner of that match takes the title, the trophy, and the pride.

The History & The Trophy

To understand the history behind this long-standing event (and the oldest trophy in international sport), let’s go back to 1851. A businessman from New York sailed across the Atlantic and beat a fleet of British yachts in a race around the Isle of Wight to win the 100 Guinea Cup. Queen Victoria asked who came in second and was met with the famous reply, “Your Majesty, there is no second.” That trophy was re-named and donated to New York Yacht Club. A Deed of Gift was written for a “perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations.” Britain has yet to win back the trophy that left its shores in 1851.

America’s Cup Yachts 2021

After winning the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda, the Kiwis decide the boat to be raced four years later (a benefit of being a victor). The Emirates Team New Zealand sets the parameters for hull length and overall length with bowsprit. The hull shape and foil flaps are designed by each team.

The AC75s are 75-foot sailing yachts designed to fly in as little wind as possible. The boats have a T-foil on each side that provides the lift to take the hull out of the water and soar at top speeds of 50 knots. The foils are ballasted to provide stability, yet the challenge is to keep the large boat foiling on two narrow points. It’s a feat of aerodynamics, and that’s where the sailors’ rapid adjustments come into play. Add the high winds and wicked conditions of New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, and you’ve got a setting for a nail-biting race.

Standout sailors on each team include Pete Burling (New Zealand), Terry Hutchinson (USA), Sir Ben Ainslie (Britain), and Max Sirena (Italy.)

How to Watch America’s Cup

You can watch the race live on America’s Cup YouTube channel and Facebook. With the time difference, US viewers can catch the action at night, around 8 pm or 9 pm. NBC Sports has a race schedule to let you know the start times of each day.

Race Updates

In the most recent race developments, the American Magic yacht PATRIOT crashed and capsized. The team was leading a race when a huge gust of wind sent the AC75 into the air. The yacht crashed onto the water and the shock created a hole in the port side, which was not detected until later. American Magic announced on January 20 that they would not race in round robins 3 and 4.

As of publication, INEOS TEAM UK only needs one more win to advance to the final. The next race is on January 23 and 24. Whichever team wins this weekend will be awarded the PRADA Christmas Race trophy as a top qualifier. Whichever team loses will then race American Magic in the semi-final. The first knockout phase starts on Friday, January 29.

The 36th America’s Cup continues through March in Auckland, New Zealand. The team that wins the Prada Cup will race against the defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, in the 36th America’s Cup Match from March 6-21, 2021. Will Britain take the trophy back? Will the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team sneak into the Cup Match? What’s next for American Magic? Follow along to stay updated on the thrilling races.