The Americas Cup sailing yacht race came to NYC earlier this month and I had the privilege of attending the race on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The New York event was a qualifying race in a series of preliminary events, collectively known as the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.
These preliminary races are part of the 2015-16 America’s Cup season. America’s Cup is running these qualifying races throughout the world. Events in Portsmouth, Sweden, Bermuda, and Oman have already occurred. Races in Chicago, Portsmouth, and Toulon will occur later this year. The final race for the America’s Cup trophy will take place in the summer of 2017 in Bermuda.
For those of you unaware of the history of the America’s Cup, let’s take a quick look back to 1851 when a schooner sailed past the British Royal Yacht stationed near the Isle of Wight on the south coast of England. The schooner, named America, passed and saluted the Royal Yacht. This all happened on an afternoon when Queen Victoria was watching a sailing race.
The Queen asked one of her attendants to tell her who was in second place. “Your Majesty, there is no second,” the attendant replied. That phrase, just four words, is still the best description of the America’s Cup. That day in August 1851, the yacht America, representing the New York Yacht Club, would go on to beat other British ships and win the Royal Yacht Squadron’s 100 Pound Cup. Thereby winning the first “America’s Cup”.
Participating countries in the 35th edition of the America’s Cup include Great Britain, New Zealand, France, Sweden, USA, and Japan.
What makes the America’s Cup horologically interesting is the sponsorship of Bremont Watches. The British-born and raised brand is one of the sponsors of the America’s Cup series. Obviously, a race isn’t a race without someone keeping time, so Bremont is also the official timekeeping partner of the races.
I attended the Sunday (May 8) race on behalf of ProfessionalWatches. I ended up tagging along with Bremont’s Head of PR, Natalie. We started the day in the press suite and discussed the race and the day’s program over coffee and tea. We’d planned to enjoy and record the day’s program aboard the media boat with other journalists and photographers. Once we received our media boat wristbands and instructions, we departed the media center ahead of the other press members in an attempt to secure the best seats.
Being a seasoned New Yorker, I led Natalie on a brisk walk to the ferry terminal. We flashed our wristbands to the first boat we saw and quickly boarded a beautiful yacht attended by staff in tiki attire. We sipped our Mai Thais and toasted to what we hoped would be a great afternoon of racing. The Saturday NYC races had been cut short due to weather conditions (high wind) so the crowd was ready for a beautiful day of racing.
The boat departed shortly after noon, tropical island music blasted from the DJ booth, and rum drinks were imbibed. Bremont, Natalie, and I were rooting for Oracle Team USA. The boat even had a few crew members from Team Oracle and their grinder, Cooper Dressler, was on the loudspeaker providing a play-by-play of the race.
Shortly after the first race started, we were tapped on the shoulder by what we thought was a member of the boat staff. The nice woman advised us that we were on the wrong boat! Apparently, we had boarded the Goslings Rum boat! I began to survey the scene and it was noticeably absent of photographers and journalists. After some Snapchat and Instagram followers were traded, we agreed that we had sailed too far from port to go back now. We quickly made friends of our new acquaintances and enjoyed a day of racing on the Hudson River. Team New Zealand ended up winning the “winner take all” Sunday race.
To celebrate being the first British timing partner since 1851, Bremont has released America’s Cup editions of their popular chronometers. The America’s Cup collection consists of chronographs and time-only pieces that represent the capabilities of the venerable British brand.