December 08, 2015

America's Cup racing will return to New York for the first time in nearly a century when the America's Cup World Series is sailed off the southern tip of Manhattan on May 7-8.

While the America's Cup World Series is mostly a warmup circuit for the 2017 match in Bermuda, it will be an adrenaline rush compared to the 1920 America's Cup, the last to be sailed in New York before it was moved to Newport, Rhode Island.

Back then, the America's Cup was sailed in big, classic yachts.

The America's Cup World Series is an extreme sport on water, sailed in fast 45-foot catamarans that rise up on hydrofoils and skim across the tops of the waves.

The exact course on the Hudson River off Battery Park hasn't been finalized, but it should be spectacular, going past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, with a backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.

''The venue is phenomenal when you think about it,'' Harvey Schiller, the America's Cup commercial commissioner, said by phone from New York on Tuesday.

Schiller, a former executive director of the USOC, said the various authorities were cooperative in helping to plan the regatta.

''When we had the original meeting, the one thing they said was, `Don't interfere with the Staten Island Ferry,' `' Schiller said.

An ACWS had been planned in New York in spring 2013, but it was dropped so teams could focus on the America's Cup later that year in San Francisco.

The yacht America won the trophy that would bear its name by beating a fleet of British ships around the Isle of Wight in 1851. There were 13 America's Cup matches off New York from 1870-1920, all won by the New York Yacht Club. In 1920, Resolute beat Shamrock IV, owned by Sir Thomas Lipton.

''That's where the America's Cup was, as they say, bolted down in that New York Yacht Club, for so many years. I think it's going to be really cool to not only take the cup back there, but the entire Louis Vuitton World Series out on the Hudson River,'' said Jimmy Spithill, skipper of two-time defending America's Cup champion Oracle Team USA. ''They never will have thought about the Hudson and sport in this way before.''

Racing was moved to Newport starting with the 1930 match. It remained there until 1983, when Australia II beat Dennis Conner's Liberty to end the New York Yacht Club's 132-year winning streak, the longest in sports.

Schiller said sailors are excited to get the chance to compete in New York.

''In fact, they're all asking me for Yankees tickets,'' he said.

There will be six ACWS regattas in 2016. Announced so far are Muscat, Oman, Feb. 26-28; New York; Chicago, June 10-12; and Portsmouth, England, July 22-24. Two others are planned. One likely will be in France in mid-September and one will be in either China or Japan in mid-November.

Besides Oracle, the fleet includes Emirates Team New Zealand, Land Rover BAR of Britain, Artemis Racing of Sweden, SoftBank Team Japan and Groupama Team France.


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