SAN FRANCISCO (#1220) — AC36 challenger INEOS Team UK represents the prestigious Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR), the Club that started it all in 1851 when they offered up a challenge cup, a Victorian ewer that cost 100 pounds Sterling — a princely sum in those days. That trophy became known as the America's Cup after it was won by the New York Yacht Club's schooner AMERICA in a race around the Isle of Wight off England's south coast on August 22, 1851.
"The Squadron" is thought by many to be among the stodgiest clubs in the world. However, at first blush their team's new AC 75 yacht (accompanying image courtesy of the team's Instagram page) that will be formally launched midday British time Friday appears to be anything but stodgy — indeed, it appears more radical than all of the other three AC 75s (NZL, USA and ITA) unveiled in the previous couple weeks.
The image was released today (Thursday) by INEOS Team UK on their Instagram page to "tease" tomorrow's private launch party. They have promised the media a press release and more photos after Friday's afternoon local time.
INEOS Team UK is led by Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR), the most successful Olympic yachtsman of all time, and CEO Grant Simmer (AUS), who won the Cup in 1983 with the radical, winged-keel AUSTRALIA II when they ended NYYC's 132 year AC winning streak. Mr Simmer has also won the Cup as a manager with Alinghi (SUI) in 2003 and 2007, and Oracle Team USA in 2013. Sir Ben was also a sailing team member of that 2013 Cup-winning team. Have they teamed up for another winner? Or have they gone off the design deep end?
According to Cup lore, at least twice in AC history our headline "If she is right, then all of us are wrong" was uttered — in 1851 when members of The Squadron first saw the yacht AMERICA after she sailed into Cowes, I.O.W., and again in 1958 when the late, great NYYC yacht designer Olin Stephens first laid eyes on the British challenger SCEPTRE, challenging for, you guessed it, the RYS. In 1851 AMERICA proved, of course, to be technically right, and the entire RYS fleet wrong. In 1958 the defending yacht COLUMBIA, designed by Mr Stephens, was embarrassingly (for the Brits) right; the RYS challenger SCEPTRE lost 4-0 by some of the largest margins in America's Cup history.
When Sir Ben's yacht is fully revealed on Friday, you can be sure at least some will be muttering, if not uttering, the same words. Will the Royal Yacht Squadron prove once again to be wrong? Or will it be, "Third time's a charm"?
The Royal Yacht Squadron's famous clubhouse, known as "The Castle," in Cowes on England's Isle of Wight.