America’s Cup: Rich History Impacts Future Direction (Photos)

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For the first time in its illustrious 165 year history, the America’s Cup competition with be held in fresh water.

In just 11 days, the premier sailboat racing event comes to Chicago and Lake Michigan. It will be based at Navy Pier, a venue that itself turns 100 this year.

Of course, it’s still not nearly as old as the America’s Cup, affectionately known as the “Auld Mug,” the oldest trophy in all of sports.

It was originally awarded in 1851 by the Royal Yacht Squadron for a race around the Isle of Wight in England, won by the schooner America. The trophy was renamed the America’s Cup after the yacht and it was donated to the New York Yacht Club under the terms of the Deed of Gift, which made the cup available for perpetual international competition.

The media have had a chance to set sail, preview the race course, and absorb the knowledge of Tod Reynolds, America’s Cup World Series Event Director (more photos and artist renderings at this link).

Reynolds informed me that after the first race, Queen Victoria asked one of her attendants to tell her who was in second place.”Your Majesty, there is no second,” came the reply.

As the official America’s Cup website states: “That phrase, just four words, is still the best description of the America’s Cup, and how it represents the singular pursuit of excellence.”

Consider that exchange a very early precursor to Nelly’s famous lyrics in 2000: “what does it take to be #1, #2 is not a winner and #3 nobody remembers. Reynolds articulated to me why Chicago is indeed the perfect host to an event that could be bridging a new era in the America’s Cup.

The organizers want to bring the competition closer to land, draw bigger crowds and of course, sail faster. Chicago is the perfect backdrop for reaching all of these goals, as Reynolds articulated, because of the protected land fill in between the skyscrapers and the lake shore in the Windy City.

This area, developed after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, is predominantly park land and that provides the perfect background of visual imagery.

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Where else can you find the sublime juxtaposition of nature and skyscrapers in immediate synergy?

You have lakescape/waterscape, parkscape/landscape and cityscape all fusing together. The lake used to start at Michigan Avenue, but the land in between the Mag Mile and the shoreline today is all protected public park.

The regatta coming up on June 10th-12th is a qualifier for the 2017 America’s Cup which will be held in Bermuda.

It’s a rehearsal of sorts.

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If this event goes smoothly, and a series of other factors comply, America will have a chance to host the big race in 2021. If Team Oracle USA wins again (they won it all in 2010, successfully defended the title in 2013), then the United States gets to determine who would host the next America’s Cup.

The history and prestige associated with the America’s Cup is as rich as the wealthy entrepreneurs and sponsors of the event.

Louis Vuitton is indeed the perfect title sponsor, and the name synonymous with high end luxury has served in that capacity since 1983.

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This marquee event doesn’t just determine the world’s elite in sailing skill, boat and sail design, but also those who excel the most in fund-raising and fund management skills. The weeks ahead will be a very interesting time in the direction of the event. Flashing back to the past, we can say where the America’s Cup is headed in the future.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication and Bold Global.

He also consistently appears on numerous talk shows all across the country. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

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