This is sailing without the fun. It is sport stripped clean of the pretense that “it’s the taking part that counts.” Winning is all that matters. In the America’s Cup, so the mantra goes, there is no second place.
On a spring day in Valencia, 12 teams are making the final preparations for one of the most brutal of all team contests. By rights, we should be in Switzerland, for Alinghi, a Swiss boat, is defending the trophy. In lieu of a suitable patch of ocean — indeed, any ocean — in Switzerland, the honor of host city was put out to tender, and here we are in Spain.
At stake is the oldest trophy in world sport, an ornate silver cup — the “auld mug,” to aficionados — that has been contested since 1851. The schooner America, of the New York Yacht Club, was the first victor, beginning a 132- year winning streak for the club.
Twenty-five unsuccessful challenges were mounted by British, Canadian, Irish and Australian boats before Australia II finally wrested the trophy away from New York in 1983.
With the end of an effective monopoly, global interest in the event increased dramatically, further heightened in 1988 when “Mr. America’s Cup,” Dennis Conner, pushed the rules of the competition to the limit by defending the trophy in a speedy catamaran, Stars and Stripes. The challenging boat from New Zealand was duly “whupped,” but for the next few months the competition moved to the courts, where each side accused the other of cheating.
When the legal dust settled, a new standard of yacht — the International America’s Cup Class — was introduced and has been used for every subsequent race. The regulations allow for design innovations to the hull, which are jealously guarded against spies from other teams. Thus, as I toured Valencia’s Port America’s Cup on a recent sunny morning, many of the boats were partially concealed by tarpaulin skirts.
The costs of mounting a challenge are enormous. Putting together a team requires years of planning, courting sponsors and marketing — often long before the team’s boat is even on the drawing board. In the past, the America’s Cup was the hobby of millionaires. Today, an even higher level of funding is required. The defending champ, Alinghi, is financed by biotechnology billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli and a legion of corporate sponsors.
Faced with these daunting financial hurdles, this year Dennis Conner was unable to cobble together a competitive team, though the United States will be represented by BMW Oracle Racing, flying the colors of the Golden Gate Yacht Club. China has entered a boat for the first time, along with South Africa, New Zealand and a clutch of European nations.
These challengers will compete in the Louis Vuitton Cup, which reaches its climax in mid-June. The winner will then go head-to-head with Alinghi in the 32nd America’s Cup, starting June 23.
As a spectator sport, the major drawback is that much of the action takes place offshore, beyond easy view. The crowds will cheer the boats out, watch the race progress on giant screens, and then greet the weary teams as they return to base.
Savvy fans will spend at least some of the intervening time in La Pepica, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite paella restaurant. While enjoying lunch on the verandah, you can watch the sails of the competing boats through binoculars. If the literary giant were still around, you can bet he’d be here, too. He loved boats, he admired bravery, he celebrated sporting prowess — all of those elements are present in the America’s Cup.
After the race, Papa would no doubt be on the quayside cheering the victors. And the losers? He wouldn’t give them a thought. After all, there is no second place.
Vail Resorts opted to close all 37 resorts early in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, but the mountain resort operator also wanted to give back to the community in the face of this adversity. The excess perishable food from the various properties was donated to 30 local food banks, schools and community organizations in the communities where Vail Resorts employees live, work and play. Fruit, vegetables, cheese, juice, granola bars and more went to mountain communities from Colorado and Vermont to British Columbia.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs and account for nearly 48 percent of the U.S. private sector workforce. And small- and medium-sized businesses outpace all other sectors as one of the fastest-growing in the United States. InterContinental® Hotels Group (IHG) goes above and beyond to create opportunities for this segment with its IHG® Business Edge program, voted Best Small- to Mid-Sized Business Program in Global Traveler’s 2019 GT Tested Reader Survey awards.
The airline industry responds to the COVID-19 pandemic with updates on cancellations, route capacity reductions and rebooking policies. Here’s an update.
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The city took its name from Athena, goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and protector of the city. The financial, political and administrative center of the country and an all-powerful city-state in antiquity, Athens is a major center of culture. A visit to the first-ever museum dedicated to Byzantium, a stroll around the National Garden and a trip to the Olympeion archaeological site will take you back through time.
While we may be physically restricted as to where we travel, that doesn’t stop the wandering spirit from feeling the need to explore. With the rise of virtual tourism, we can do just that — explore, but from home.
As a result of travel restrictions and drastic reductions in flights worldwide, Munich Airport is suffering from decreases in nearly every area of its operations. Take-offs and landings reached a low last week, with traffic plummeting to less than 10 percent of the number year over year. Passenger traffic is at 5 percent of last year’s level.
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For the next several weeks, we are compiling the thoughts and experiences of our staff, writers and readers about the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. As a travel publication, we’ve all been affected during these difficult times, as have many of our clients, friends, partners and more.