The New York Yacht Club closely held the ornate silver trophy from 1851, when it was won by the yacht America through to 1983—a run often known as the longest winning streak in sports.
The Club regularly challenged for the trophy in the years that followed the historic loss to Australia II off the coast of Newport 34 years ago, but had remained on the sidelines since its last challenge with Team Dennis Conner for the 2002-’03 America’s Cup.
The club’s syndicate will be led by two of the most successful American yachtsmen of the last decade, “Hap” Fauth and Doug DeVos. Since 2005, at the helm of three successive yachts named Bella Mente, Fauth and his team have reached the top of the podium in numerous distance and buoy races at venues in North America, Europe and the Caribbean. Fauth is a three-time world champion in the Maxi72 class.
DeVos and the Quantum Racing program have set the standard for excellence on the 52 Super Series circuit, and its predecessor, the MedCup, with overall series wins in 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016.
One common link between the two teams is Bella Mente Quantum Racing Association Skipper and CEO Terry Hutchinson, a two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and veteran America’s Cup competitor. Hutchinson, like Fauth, is a long-time New York Yacht Club member.
“The America’s Cup has always remained close to the heart of the New York Yacht Club, even in the years where we didn’t participate as a challenger or defender,” said Commodore Philip A. Lotz. “For this cycle, a lot of elements have come together in the correct way for the Club to enter another challenge.
“First and foremost is the desire of two great American sailors and businessmen, Hap Fauth and Doug DeVos, to take aim at sailing’s ultimate competition. We know they will mount a competitive effort that is respectful of the Club’s long history with the Cup and the competition itself. Second, we have confidence the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, represented by Emirates Team New Zealand, will host a world-class regatta that honors the spirit, tradition and majesty of this great event.”
America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner says the New York Yacht Club will bring a big budget to its challenge for the 2021 America’s Cup.
Conner told NZ Radio Sport that the New York Yacht Club will match challenger of record Luna Rossa in size of budget for the event. One of the team’s representatives is Doug DeVos, the CEO of Amway. The DeVos family’s estimated wealth is US$5.4 billion.
“The event is going to be spectacular and everyone is looking forward to seeing how it’s going to work out,” Conner said.
“I think it’s wonderful. The event needs to have a few competitors that are strong and can challenge Team New Zealand. Because they are so good we need an exciting challenge. The New York Yacht Club being part of it will add to the drama. I suspect the money generated from the New York Yacht Club and the DeVos team Quantum Racing, they’ll be a big budget group similar to Prada [Italian syndicate Luna Rossa]. They’ll give Prada a good run for the right to win the Prada Cup.
“We all look forward to see how they develop the new boat with the wing and sail and mainsail and the possibility of them flying downwind will be very interesting. Certainly be more interesting than watching a couple of catamarans race around in Bermuda. It’s wonderful to see the cup getting back to its roots.”
Conner says it seems unlikely Oracle Team USA backer Larry Ellison will return to the sport and isn’t confident there will be another American challenger to join the New York Yacht Club.
“I’m sure they would like to be 100 challengers but show me the money. Where’s the money going to come from? When you’re talking about a sail budget of $40m and all the costs involved of developing a new boat, I think the budgets will be upwards of $100m and there’s not that many folks around with that kind of money to spend on sailing.”
Grant Dalton, CEO of Emirates Team New Zealand, was quick to welcome the news of the challenge having had long associations with DeVos and Hutchinson.
“As exciting as it is to have a challenge from the New York Yacht Club, I am equally enthused having Hap Fauth, Doug & Terry in the America’s Cup. They are all highly respected and successful individuals and have no shortage of achievements in the top level of competitive monohull sailing in the Maxi72 class and the TP52 classes with series wins and World Championships to their names,” Dalton said.
“There is no question that they will be a formidable Challenger.”
Even though entries won’t officially open until January 1, 2018, and the class rule for the AC75 won’t be finalised till March 31, 2018 there are many pivotal decisions ahead for this and any other challenger. In the case of the US challenge, the return to monohulls will enable the team to pool the technological resources of two elite sailing programs and get a jump on the competition.
“The decisions we make over the next six months will play a significant role in determining the ultimate success of our campaign,” says Terry Hutchinson, who sailed as tactician for Emirates Team New Zealand in the 2007 America’s Cup match, the last to be contested in monohulls. “The early support of Hap, Doug and the New York Yacht Club puts us in a very strong position. But we can’t take anything for granted. The race for the 36th America’s Cup has already begun.”