USA 76 and the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup

High Fashion, Even Higher Sails

As we delve further into the history of America’s Cup we come across numerous Challengers, sponsors, and athletes that have sought to leave their legacy alongside America’s Cup. One such sponsor is Louis Vuitton. Of course, the only thing sexier than high fashion is multi-million dollar yachting. It only made sense for luxury’s finest to enter the scene in 1983.

Advertisement for the Louis Vuitton Trophy and the 35th America’s Cup held in Bermuda.

Louis Vuitton and the “Auld Mug”

Since it’s inception, there was an onslaught of international challengers vying for a chance to claim the “Auld Mug”. This popularity spurred the launch of the “Challenger’s Cup” which became the “playoffs” of America’s Cup. The Louis Vuitton Cup sought to narrow the competition in nine round-robin points accruing phases. The team that won the Louis Vuitton Cup would go on to challenge the current holder of America’s Cup. The first Louis Vuitton Cup was held in Newport Rhode Island. Australia II won and went on to challenge America’s Liberty for the 25th America’s Cup. Louis Vuitton sponsored a total of eight America’s Cup Events. This included one Louis Vuitton Trophy in 2017 that determined the 35th America’s Cup Challenger. Of the nine events sponsored by Louis Vuitton, five of the victorious teams have gone on to win America’s Cup!

In 2003, Auckland New Zealand set the stage for the 6th Louis Vuitton Cup and the 31st America’s Cup. Team New Zealand of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron was the defending champion. Skipper, Dean Barker, was at the helm. There were nine competitors from six nations with their most talented and elite sailors on board.

Team New Zealand’s crew positions for the 2003 America’s Cup held in New Zealand.

2003 Louis Vuitton Cup

Enter Oracle BMW Racing and USA 76! The team was founded by Larry Ellison and skippered by Peter Holmberg. The team included elite sailors like our very own Brad Webb, Paul Cayard, John Cutler, Phil Jameson, Brian MacInnes, Cameron Dunn, and Chris Dickson. In accordance to class rules, the yacht boasted 40,000lbs of lead ballast, 10,000 lbs of carbon fiber, and 2,8000 sq ft. of sail area.

America’s Cup Returns to Europe

After a series of nine round-robin races, Team Alinghi went head to head with Oracle BMW Racing. It was a ferocious fight, however, Alighi won and went on to challenge Team New Zealand in the 31st America’s Cup. The team prevailed and brought the “Auld Mug” back to Europe. The 2007 America’s Cup would take place in Valencia Spain. Take a look at the clip below to see some of the action between Alinghi and Team New Zealand.