All eyes will be on New York City this weekend as the fastest sailboats from around the world take over the Hudson River for a race making its return to the Big Apple after almost a century.
Six teams will race against each other during the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series New York race, which is set to take place on May 7 and 8 along the Hudson River waterfront offering spectators views through Manhattan and New Jersey.
This weekend’s competition — which serves as one of the five races leading to the final championship in Bermuda in 2017 — is New York’s first massive sailing race since 1920.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the America’s Cup back to New York City for the first time in 96 years and I am hoping it’s not 96 years again before we get them back to our great city,” said Fred Dixon, CEO and president of NYC & Company.
In the last 96 years, the America’s Cup has been held in other American waters and also across the world.
The cup’s return to New York City is expected to draw in tens of thousands of people with the heart of the festivities taking place in Battery Park City and the Waterfront Plaza at Brookfield Place in downtown Manhattan.
Races are expected — subject to weather conditions — to all end right off the plaza and will feature an event village where spectators will enjoy entertainment and vendors. The race and the events at the village are all free to the public.
“We’re thrilled to once again be adding world class sailing to the list of great sporting events in New York City. It’s one more reason why New York is truly the ultimate sports city,” Dixon said. “Racing in the Hudson, right along the Manhattan skyline, is going to be nothing short of spectacular.”
The six teams competing over the weekend include defending champion ORACLE TEAM USA, Emirates Team New Zealand, Land Rover BAR for Great Britain, Artemis Racing from Sweden, SoftBanks Team Japan, and Groupama Team France.
Each team races in sailboats that are powered by a wing sail and navigated by a crew of five people. The boats at times even fly on water and can reach speeds of up to 40 mph.
The winner of the New York race — which will be crowned on Sunday — will gain points that count towards the final competition in Bermuda next year.
For Jimmy Spithill, skipper/helmsman for ORACLE TEAM USA, coming back to the what he calls “the coolest city in the world” is very exciting and he sees it as a privilege to get to chance to race in New York City waters.
“I don’t think you get a better stadium than the Hudson River,” Spithill said. You’ve got some real iconic stadiums and ballparks here but one that you’ve probably underutilize is this one right here.”
According to Spithill, holding the race in one of the biggest cities in the world creates some challenging conditions when it comes to the competition. He noted that winds coming through skyscrapers could be a “bit of a mine field” for all the teams and the waters could have a lot of currents.
However, Spithill and his fellow competitors say they’ll tackle any issues — including floating debris in the Hudson River — as just another obstacle on the “race track.”
When asked what he would do if he comes out the winner this weekend, the two-time America’s Cup winner said plans are to celebrate big and take advantage of all New York City has to offer.
“If we were fortunate enough to win we would go out with a bang,” he said. “It’s definitely one of the great parts of coming to New York, it’s how social it is and how many different people are around and just a great atmosphere.”