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America's Cup: The State of the Cup

by America's Cup Media 29 Mar 00:25 BST
Port Vell - Venue - 2024 America's Cup - Barcelona © America's Cup Media

It has been exactly one year since the announcement that Barcelona had secured the venue rights as the host city for the 37th America’s Cup and following the signing of the agreement, work has been ongoing transforming the Port Vell and Port Olímpic areas ready to host the competing teams who are setting up bases and will be onsite from Summer 2023.

All around the Port Vell, building work is now at pace as the construction of the team’s bases takes shape. For the teams themselves, winter training has been an intense period with new boats launched, new design ideas coming to fruition and sailing techniques honed through long hours on the water.

Spreading the message of the America’s Cup across Catalonia and Spain and engaging with the widest possible audience is very much key to the mission of America’s Cup Events Limited and its CEO, Grant Dalton, is enthused by the opportunity of an event with such a broad audience.

Speaking about selecting Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain as host, Dalton said: “It has been an honour to work with all the host agencies in both Barcelona and across Catalonia and Spain to bring the 37th America’s Cup back to such a vibrant European venue.

"One year on, and we are really moving forward across the whole aspect of the event delivery and it’s thrilling to see all the teams already operating at a super-high level as they test and evaluate their training platforms ahead of building their one new AC75 for the competition in 2024.”

He also advanced some of the plans of Emirates Team New Zealand, and the sporting structure that will be based in the Catalan capital over the next few months: "In July we will be sailing in Barcelona, as well as the rest of the teams". The Defender team is in charge of designing and organizing the next edition of the America's Cup through the subsidiary of America’s Cup Event, ACE Barcelona, which, according to its CEO, has as one of its most important challenges to involve the public, as happened with the 1992 Olympic Games.

The Defender was the first to receive and launch the exciting new AC40 yachts in Auckland that the Youth & Women’s America’s Cup will be competed onboard in a very strict one-design format that will reward the talent of the very best of the next generation of sailors in the world.

“The AC40 has proven to be the most exciting new foiling class in the world. AC37 is set to be sensational with Barcelona very much the beating heart of the competition but it’s also of great significance that we’ve been able to broaden the reach by announcing the Catalonian town of Vilanova i la Geltrú as the first pre-regatta in September 2023 on the road to the America’s Cup. With 18 months to go to the start of the Challenger Selection Series we are in a very good position to deliver an outstanding event,” he added.”

The team also re-launched their America’s Cup winning AC75 from 2021 ‘Te Rehutai’ and have two AC40’s to train on. Over the year, a total of five AC40’s have been delivered to the teams, with the sixth on its way from McConaghy’s to Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in the coming weeks.

The Challenger of Record, INEOS Britannia received their AC40 in October and also elected to build their own prototype 40-footer, known as an LEQ12, and selected Palma, Mallorca as their winter training base. Team Principal and Skipper Sir Ben Ainslie is looking forward to starting racing saying: “The 37th America’s Cup venue announcement was a much-anticipated moment that we had all been waiting for, and it certainly did not disappoint. The team was delighted that Barcelona had been chosen as we knew it would provide excellent facilities for operations, competitive racing conditions and an engaging setting for visiting fans. We had already committed to a winter training Camp in Palma, which meant that once the news was official our focus would be on a mid-summer 2023 move to the host venue. Our base is now well under construction and in the coming months we are looking forward to moving in and immersing ourselves in the Barcelona community and experiencing that special Catalonian culture. With six teams entered there is already a buzz in the city ahead of us all hitting the water, this could be a special edition of the Auld Mug.”

New York Yacht Club American Magic re-launched their AC75 ‘Patriot’ and trained in Pensacola, Florida ahead of receiving their AC40 in late February 2023 and have been putting long hours in on the water.

[We are not sure why American Magic deserves just a sentence of comment in this release, but for S-W readers' information, the US team has rigged/sailed for 44 days in their AC75, which has been partially upgraded to Version 2 of the AC75 Class rule. The team was the first to test cyclors on an AC75. American Magic has also rigged/sailed their AC40 One Design for 13 days. They have introduced two new co-helmsmen in Olympic Gold medalists Paul Goodison and Tom Slingsby, and a host of several other top sailors. The team has established a base in Pensacola, Florida and is running a stable campaign. It is one of three teams who are training in their home waters, before shifting to a permanent base in currently under construction in Barcelona.]

The finalists from the 2021 America’s Cup Match, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, also chose to build an LEQ12 and based themselves in Cagliari, Sardinia for the winter training period that has yielded some astonishing results.

However, Max Sirena, Skipper and Team Director of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli is very much looking forward to shifting operations to Barcelona, saying: “We can’t wait to sail in Barcelona. We have recently started the construction of our base in Spain, which will be ready by July. Barcelona is a unique European capital that combines history, tradition, and sports, and now returns to host international sailing after the '92 Olympics. The America's Cup will attract fans from all over the world and we are sure that the city will provide strong emotions to the public, both on the water and on shore. This summer in Barcelona for the first time we will have the opportunity to compete against other teams onboard the AC40s, while waiting for the inaugural America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta in Vilanova which, we are confident, will be an important kick-off for all participants.”

The most visual team so far in Barcelona has been Alinghi Red Bull Racing, training hard in both their AC75 ‘BoatZero’ and their all-new AC40 on the waters where the 37th America’s Cup will be held.

Speaking about the move to Barcelona, Silvio Arrivabene the co-General Manager of Alinghi Red Bull Racing commented: “Certainly, the announcement that Barcelona was going to be the host city for the next America's Cup has been very well received by us as a European team. Clearly from Switzerland, the trip here is relatively easy and straight forward so it was a natural decision to set up shop here. Of course European team, European venue, we cannot ask for more.”

The Challenger Selection Series for the 37th America’s Cup starts in September 2024 but ahead of that, a series of pre-regattas will be held with the first announced in Vilanova i la Geltrú from the 14th-17th September 2023.

Racing will take place in the one-design AC40’s and all the teams will be there, including the French Orient Express Racing Team that confirmed its entry to the America’s Cup in February 2023. Stephan Kandler, the Associate General Manager of the Orient Express Racing Team is looking forward to sailing both in Barcelona and Vilanova i la Geltrú and can see a huge opportunity for the event.

Speaking from France, Stephan commented: “The prospect of setting up our base in the fabled city of Barcelona is thrilling for the team, especially considering Catalonia – already a popular destination for the French – is easy for our supporters to visit! We will begin a new chapter in July when our base becomes operational, and in August, we look forward to sailing our new AC40 on waters that are well known to the team. We plan to make the most of every available sailing day to ensure that Quentin Delapierre and his team master the boat ahead of the first preliminary regatta in Vilanova, less than a month later. The last few months have been full of great news for Orient Express Team. The next few months – accompanied by the Accor group, the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, and our partners and supporters – promise to be an exceptional shared adventure.”

The next 18 months will see a busy period of development for all the teams as they confirm their designs and go into build of the boats that will contest the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona. This summer, the waterfront will be teeming with action as the teams train whilst the Port Vell and the Port Olímpic will continue their transformation with the new bases being erected as sailors and shore teams from around the world descend on Barcelona.

The road to the America’s Cup 2024 has well and truly started.

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