© Sander van der Borch

History of the America's Cup

First contested in 1851, the America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sport, pre-dating the modern Olympics by 45 years, and is yachting’s most coveted prize.

The trophy dates back to the Great Exhibition of 1851, organised at Crystal Palace in London by Prince Albert to showcase British technology and excellence to the world. A syndicate of businessmen from New York sailed the schooner America across the Atlantic Ocean to represent the United States at the world’s fair. The schooner won a race around the Isle of Wight and, with it, a trophy called the £100 Cup. (It was subsequently inscribed, incorrectly, as the 100 Guineas Cup.)

As thee schooner America, passed the Royal Yacht in first position and saluted by dipping its ensign three times, Queen Victoria asked one of her attendants to tell her who was in second place. “Your Majesty, there is no second,” came the reply. That phrase, ‘There is no second’, is still the best description of the America’s Cup, and how it represents the singular pursuit of excellence.

After winning the trophy, the United States embarked on what would become the longest winning streak in the history of sport, a 132-year stretch of domination that saw boats representing the country successfully defend the trophy 24 times from 1870 through 1980- until 1983, when Australia II became the first successful challenger.

Throughout its history, the America’s Cup has bedazzled business and industry tycoons such as tea merchant Sir Thomas Lipton, brewing and real estate mogul Alan Bond, aviation pioneer Sir T.O.M. Sop with, the Aga Khan, media mogul Ted Turner, and Harold S. Vanderbilt, an American railroad executive who won the America’s Cup three times and also helped author the original racing rules of sailing. The America’s Cup has always been a race driven by technology and is the most difficult trophy in sport to win. In the more than 160 years since that first race off England only four countries – the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland – have experienced the euphoria of winning the Trophy and only eight cities have hosted the competition.


© Sander van der Borch

The 34th edition of the America’s Cup in 2013 marked a transformation for the oldest trophy in international sport with new wing sail foiling catamarans, cutting-edge technology and a close-to-shore venue. Oracle Team USA battled for the prestigious Cup for 17 races, beating the challenger Emirates Team New Zeeland with 9 to 8 wins in the final.



Oracle Team USA, in collaboration with the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, released the Protocol of the 35th America’s Cup in May 2014. The venue of the 35th America’s Cup has been announced and the racing will take place in May 2017 in the Great Sound in Bermuda.