The 2017 America's Cup, the event's 35th edition, saw the highest technology foiling multihulls fighting it out in sunny Bermuda for yachting's ultimate trophy, and an emphatic win for New Zealand, moving the 'Auld Mug' into a new phase in its history.
The 35th America's Cup
Bermuda proved to be a stunning location for the world's oldest international sporting trophy, delivering blue waters and plenty of dramas. The Louis Vuitton Series decided the Cup challenger to face holders Team Oracle USA in the final America's Cup Match Series.
In the intervening years since the 34th America's Cup in 2013, we had enjoyed the added interest of the America's Cup World Series. That Series was won by Ben Ainslie's Land Rover BAR team, but his team was unable to get far when it came to the challenger series for the Cup itself; hardly surprising for a new team. They have vowed to return for the 36th edition.
The team that eventually won the 'battle of the challengers' was Emirates Team New Zealand, which had so spectacularly taken the Americans to match point four years earlier, before the US team staged its amazing comeback, turning a 1-8 deficit into a 9-8 win to retain the trophy with the help of one Sir Ben Ainslie (see America’s Cup video highlights: the ultimate comeback). Would the 2017 match be a re-run of 2013 but without Sir Ben?
The 2017 America's Cup match
In the first-to-seven match racing series, Oracle started with a one-point advantage due to 'winning' the challenger series, which effectively meant the New Zealand team had to win eight races to take the title. The young talented Team New Zealand team, with 49er Olympic gold medal-winning ace Peter Burling on the helm, stormed into an early lead, taking the first four races over the first weekend of racing, to lead 3-0. There then followed a five-day break from racing, which must have felt frustrating for the Kiwis, but a welcome respite for the US team.
The Kiwis started the second weekend with a win, but then Oracle found some speed and pulled a race back. It was to prove but a momentary blip. The next day saw two more straight wins for Emirates Team New Zealand, putting them on match point going into Monday's racing. They only needed one race to seal their victory in emphatic style, the official scoreline 7-1, the America's Cup headed once again to New Zealand, where it had spent eight years from 1995 through to 2003.
In winning the trophy, Olympic 49er gold medallist in 2016, Peter Burling, becomes the youngest America's Cup skipper in the event's history, and New Zealand can finally put to rest the heartbreak of 2013.
See the story of the 2017 America's Cup below through the stunning photos of the event, carefully selected by our friendly picture guru Tom Gruitt.
The protocol for the 36th America's Cup has yet to be announced, but it is likely that the competition will take place in Auckland, where the America's Cup spent eight years of its life between 1995 and 2003.
New Zealand's love affair with the America's Cup
While Australia became the very first foreign nation to wrest the America's Cup away from the USA in 1983, New Zealand became the first non-US team to successfully defend the Cup, when they won it from the US in 1985, defending it in 2000, before losing it in 2003. While Newport, Rhode Island in the US is undoubtedly the home where the Cup has spent by far the largest part of its life, Auckland is akin to its 'second home'. Surrounded by water, sailing is a national sport for the Kiwis and the event has always been treated with the reverence it deserves. In winning the 2017 Cup, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron becomes the first Yacht Club to successfully challenge for the America's Cup twice.
The Challenger of Record
The 'Challenger of Record' - a challenge from a foreign team which sets the wheels in motion for next Cup - was received as the teams hit the shore. The first team to challenge was Italy's Luna Rossa, and it is they who will help to draw up the format for the next event, with an announcement rumoured to be due in the next few weeks.