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September 10th, 2011, sees a remarkable event return to UK shores, as the ground-breaking fleet of contenders for the 34th America's Cup sails in to Plymouth for a week of world-class competition.
With its origins in a race that took place around the Isle of Wight in 1851, the America's Cup is the oldest active trophy in international sport. Originally awarded by the Royal Yacht Squadron to the schooner 'America', who won the maiden challenge, the splendid sterling silver ewer, donated by Field Marshall Henry William Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey, was renamed The America's Cup after the triumphant vessel.
It was subsequently donated to the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) under terms specified in a Deed of Gift that made it eligible for international competition. So the America's Cup World Series really is returning to its spiritual home with this, its first competition on British shores in 160 years.
Putting together a bid that enables a potential challenger to meet the requirements set down in the Deed of Gift is no mean feat. Today, even dreaming of challenging for the Cup requires the best designers, boats, crew and management teams in the world, and a budget to match.
The boats that have been built for the current series of challenges, which culminate in San Francisco in 2013, are different again to anything that has gone before. They are AC45 wingsailed catamarans, which isolate their crew members on slender pods suspended on either side of their vast sails. Technically superior and intimidating in both concept and performance, crewing them requires bravery, stamina and skill of the highest order.
These catamarans will be raced in 2011 and into the first months of 2012 and are designed to give new teams an opportunity to learn the tricks of wing-sailed multi-hulls as they build their own larger AC72s - the revolutionary catamarans that will be raced in San Francisco in 2013.
One defender, Oracle Racing of the USA, will attempt to hold her record against no less than seven world class challengers, led by the Challenger of Record, Artemis Racing of Sweden.
There will be four events over nine days, starting on September 10th: the Plymouth America's Cup Open, the America's Cup 500 Speed Trial, the America's Cup Match Racing Championship and the America's Cup World Series Plymouth Championship, so be sure to book your berth at Plymouth Yacht Haven for the most spectacular week of racing in Britain this side of the Olympics, and possibly in the last 160 years.
For more details visit www.americascup.com and www.americascupplymouth.co.uk
Top tip: Look out for the September issue of Yachting World magazine which will be a special America's Cup issue and will include a feature on Plymouth.
Sunday 11th September - Race day two at the America's Cup World Series in Plymouth saw some blustery conditions, leading to three boats in the afternoon fleet race capsizing... spectacularly... watch here
The America's Cup Team will be releasing a series of "America's Cup uncovered" episodes every Saturday. This is the perfect way to catch up on the latest news and events around this huge sailing event, with behind-the-scenes sneak-peeks, athlete profiles and up-close action on and off the water.
Watch the latest episode now at http://www.americascup.com/en/latest/videos/
Take a look at some of the footage on the America's Cup YouTube channel...
America's Cup: Opening Scene
America's Cup: Past, Present and Future
America's Cup: Promotion
America's Cup: AC45 Sailing Footage
America's Cup: Russell Coutts on AC45 Oracle spectacular capsize in San Francisco
America's Cup: Test Sessions Wrap
America's Cup: Test Sessions 'A brave new world'
America's Cup: AC45 Testing Day Two - 25+ Knots