America's Cup

How the America’s Cup Works

Victoria Barnett

By Victoria Barnett

April 19, 2016

rp160227_lvacwsord1_6792-1.jpg35th America’s Cup. World Series. Defender. Challengers. Challenger of Record. We hear all of these terms, but what exactly does it all mean? To those unfamiliar with the America’s Cup, it can be a little complicated and difficult to understand. We want to simplify it for you as best we can! Take a look below at our breakdown of how the America’s Cup works.


Let’s start with the basics. You’ll probably hear the word “Defender” thrown around.

Whoever wins the America’s Cup becomes the Defender of the next America’s Cup. In 2010, Golden Gate YC won the America’s Cup so they became the defending champions in 2013 and then successfully defended the Cup against Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Now, they will defend once again in 2017.

ORACLE TEAM USA will represent GGYC for the 35th America’s Cup. The team faces a number of challengers who will seek to win the Cup and host the next America’s Cup on their home turf.



Above, we mentioned the term “Challengers.” This means exactly what it sounds like. You have teams that challenge the Defender.

First and foremost, the Challenger of Record (COR) is the first challenger accepted by the Defender and Trustee of the America’s Cup. In 2013, this literally happened as the winning boat for Hamilton Island YC (HIYC) crossed the finish line. The COR negotiates with the Defender to set time, location, type of yachts, match format, rules, etc. However, unexpectedly in July of 2014, HIYC resigned as the COR for the 2017 America’s Cup and withdrew from the event.

Also in 2014, the remaining teams submitted a Notice of Challenge for the 2017 America’s Cup during an early entry period. Golden Gate YC was able to accept and reject late challenges at their discretion. The following teams officially accepted for the 35th America’s Cup:

New Challengers
Ben Ainslie Racing
SoftBank Team Japan
Team France

Returning Challengers
Artemis Racing
Emirates Team New Zealand

Learn more about the teams here.

The America’s Cup World Series

Leading up to the 35th America’s Cup, the teams participate in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, which consists of various races in different parts of the world. You can think of these races as warm-up races for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda.

The World Series kicked off in Portsmouth in July 2015 then headed to Gothenburg, Bermuda and Oman. The next World Series event will take place in New York – this will mark the first time in 96 years! The teams will then finish out the series in Chicago, Portsmouth and Toulon.


The 35th America’s Cup

You have the World Series. Then, you have the actual America’s Cup.

Bermuda is home of the 2017 America’s Cup. Why? Because Golden Gate YC said so. Whoever wins the America’s Cup and becomes the Defender gets to choose where the next Cup is held.

In 2017, the Challenger Qualifiers will be held between May 26 and June 12 with the America’s Cup Match between June 17 and 27.

The Challenger program begins with the America’s Cup Qualifiers, a double round-robin series held between May 26 and June 5 of which the defender participates. The top four Challengers then advance to the Challenger Playoffs, held between June 7 and 12. The playoffs consist of the best of 9 semi-final and final matches to determine which Challenger will compete against the Defender in the 35th America’s Cup.

Whoever is the top Challenger will face ORACLE TEAM USA in the America’s Cup Match, the best of 13 series scheduled for June 17-27.


Attend the Next World Series Event in New York

Were you able to follow along and not get lost? The America’s Cup is unique with its structure and rules, but that makes it all the more exciting!

Next up on the schedule is New York – talk about a triumphant return. For the first time since 1920, the America’s Cup will sail back to its origins as the teams face off in the New York City Harbor.

Considering the magnitude of this event, why not make your trip just as big? Experience incredibly luxurious hospitality at the event – enjoy premium views of the races, gourmet food, open bar and much more. Click below to view the available packages for the America’s Cup World Series in New York.

Get My America's Cup New York Ticket Package