It Looks Cool, But I’m Confused: The America’s Cup explained


The America’s Cup is never the same each time it’s contested. The rules change, the boats change… sometimes it isn’t even held on an ocean. The teams are from countries but don’t actually represent countries and sometimes they don’t even have anyone from that country on the boat. With that in mind, one can be forgiven for not being able to quite understand what the hell is going on at this years event in Bermuda.

The boats themselves are works of art and science traveling at speeds of over 80 kph (50 mph), which undoubtedly makes for good viewing. However, there is little comparison to other events for the average punter to help with engagement. We’re here to help.

Now that we’re into the ‘play-offs’, here is a bit of a rundown as to what’s going on, what’s up next, and what actually happened almost 2 years ago.

In the past, there was a challenger series between teams to see who would then face the current holder of the cup, known as the Louis Vuitton Cup. In order to try and make the event a bit more sexy, this traditional race has now been divided into 2 events: a round robin phase and a semi-final ‘play-off’ phase.

To confuse as many people as possible, one team started the event with 2 more points than the others as a result of the America’s Cup World Series last year. Moreover, the team which is already in the ‘final’, i.e. the current holder of the America’s Cup (Oracle Team USA) is competing in the round robin phase for some reason. Of the 6 teams that started, 1 team is eliminated (now confirmed as Team France) and 1 team excuses itself and gets ready for the main race – the defending champions, Oracle Team USA.

That leaves 4 teams to battle it out in a first-to-five win semifinal series. The top challenger (now confirmed as Emirates Team New Zealand) gets to pick their opponent, a move that is pretty unique for any sporting event. That of course leaves the remaining two of the four teams to race. Each semi-final winner will then race in another first-to-five series to decide who will eventually face Oracle Team USA for the actual America’s Cup.

So there you have it. ‘One’ event, which is actually 4 events, but only the final one is what counts for the trophy with which they are all named after.

The point is, the racing is exciting, the boats are fast, and the setting is spectacular. These are phenomenal athletes on flying race-car-like boats. Its magical.

Here is a cool video: