From the Crow’s Nest | THE SCENE
THE LANDLUBBERS GUIDE
to the America’s Cup
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series represents
a whole lot more than sailing.
WRITTEN BY W. C. STEVENSON | PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOTT TUCKER
What a show! Bermuda came together like never before for the America’s Cup World Series event held October 16–18.
;e World Series races seemed to sneak up on us. We all knew it was
on the horizon, but at the speeds these boats reach, one second they
were over there, the next they were here, bombing around the Great
Sound in front of the biggest ;otilla the island has seen since Britain
launched its naval force against the US in the War of 1812.
I was lucky enough to book myself a spot aboard one of the handful
of boats allowed on the race course, volunteering as crew on one of the
three press boats allotted for local and international photographers
From the ;rst practice day on Friday, it was clear just what these
boats mean to a people that have harboured a deep, abiding love for
the sport of sailing since time immemorial. As we bobbed around on
the press boat, waiting for the teams to leave their moorings, two lovely
old men approached us in their own boat. No wives or children or
other assorted family aboard, just two best friends, roughly in their 80s,
beaming from ear to ear.
“What time does the ;rst race start?” they asked. Two o’clock we told
them. It was 11: 30 at the time, and they were way ahead of schedule. So
they thanked us, looked at each other, smiled, and motored o; to take
Something about that stuck with me. ;ey were clearly old friends,
two men who have shared a love for sailing since before cars were
allowed on the island. Probably. Over the next two days, one has to
imagine their venerable old heads came dangerously close to exploding.
But warm fuzzies aside, there was actually some sailing that hap-
pened, in case you missed it.
;e ACWS is a long-drawn-out quali;cation process, where points
earned count towards the 2017 America’s Cup Challenger Series, the
winner of which earns the right to go head-to-head with cup-holders
Team Oracle USA.
Light wind saw racing abandoned on Saturday, so three shorter
rounds were held on Sunday instead, with double points on the table.;
Following the events in Portsmouth and Gothenburg this summer,
the regatta was won by the Swedish challengers Artemis Racing, led
by the British two-time Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy. A;er a
collision with the umpire boat that looked to have scuppered the team’s
chances, the victory was extra sweet.
While the World Series races are far less about determining the
strongest teams than they are about putting on a spectacle for the
sponsors, broadcasters and hosts alike, it will leave a bitter taste in the
mouths of Team Oracle, who were hoping for a home ;eld advantage
but wound up ;nishing in a disappointing third place.
;e short course and format leaves little room for error, which on
the one hand gives the teams a good sighter on where they need to im-
prove, but on the other does little to si; through the cream of the crop.
Certainly poor old Groupama Team France could have done with a few
more hours on the water.
Also apparent was a noticeable lack of organisation. At one point
one of the course markers began ;oating away in front of us. Course
marshals on jet-skis noticed immediately, but had no idea who to tell
about it, leading to a somewhat comical slow-motion buoy jailbreak.
And did anyone else notice it took two days for the umpires’ boat to be
painted with the right shade of pink?
It almost seemed as if we never really believed it was going to happen
and were taken by surprise when everyone actually started to arrive. I
say this not to point out a ;aw, however, because somehow everything
went o; without a hitch, save for the little mishap between Artemis
and the aforementioned, ;uorescent pink umpire boat. But in the
grand tradition of sailing, umpires getting in the way is nothing new.
Meanwhile the apparent economic impact to Hamilton businesses
was bigger than anyone could have expected. From start-ups, to boat
charters, to our oldest retailers, everyone walked away with exponen-
tially fatter pockets.
And the assertion that seeing these boats in Bermuda waters would
be great for tourism was probably an understatement. It would be folly
to think there aren’t a vast number of people now considering a vaca-
But away from the spectators, I still can’t get over how awesome it
was seeing so many Bermudians ;lling so many di;erent roles within
the event itself. Whether it was driving VIP boats, laying markers
and ;oating ads, putting up vendor’s stalls, or simply joining in the
Endeavour programme, we’ve taken this event straight to heart and will
certainly be reaping the bene;ts in the future.