America's Cup Jubilee update

Fine cognac, America and the arrival of the 'auld mug' from New Zealand

Saturday July 28th 2001, Author: Marcus Hutchinson, Location: United Kingdom
Hennessy, Phillips Auctioneers and the RNLI at the Ball

Hennessy Cognac has the largest collection of eaux de vie (the basic ingrediant of cognac) in the world with reserves from nearly every year from 1765, the year Richard Hennessy founded the company.

For every one of the 31 America's Cup competitions, there is a barrel hidden somewhere within the extensive Hennessy warehouses in Cognac. To celebrate the America's Cup Jubilee, Hennessy has assembled "The America's Cup Jubilee Collection". This comprises a 31-bottle set of cognac, each bottle with a special label depicting drawings of the challenger and defender and the winning skipper's name from the year concerned, along with tasting notes on the back. The whole collection is housed in a specially commissioned oak and teak cabinet designed and built by renowned fourth generation cabinet-maker, Thierry Drevelle.
This unique and priceless collection will be auctioned by Phillips Auctioneers at the America's Cup Jubilee Ball on Wednesday 22 August at Osborne House and is expected to raise a significant amount. The proceeds of this charity auction will go to the America's Cup Jubilee selected charity, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Funded entirely by voluntary donations and legacies, the RNLI provides a 24-hour, 365-days a year search and rescue service for the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.

It is hoped that this inspired America's Cup collection may even be bought by a previous winner of the event, someone who may find their name on one of the labels, it is of course something anyone who has taken part in the America's Cup would wish to own for both personal and competitive reasons.

America's Cup arrival in Cowes

Where would a celebration of 150 years of the America's Cup be without the auld mug being present and presiding over the week long celebration? Well of course it must be there but getting the 24inch high silver ewer, crafted by Garrards in 1848, from its current home in New Zealand to its first home in Cowes is not something that is taken on lightly.

Over the past 150 years more money has been spent trying to win or defend the Cup than is worth thinking about. The Cup by virtue of what it represents is simply priceless and as a result represents a significant security problem. When it travels, it travels first class by air escorted by the man who is currently ultimately responsible for it - the Commodore of the holding Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Commodore Peter Taylor. He is also supported by a security team. The Cup will travel from Auckland to London courtesy of United Airlines - the America's Cup Jubilee's preferred airline.

The arrival in Cowes will not be in an armoured car however as after the security has been taken care of there is also a significant amount of protocol to be dealt with. At dawn on Saturday 18th August, approximately 05:30, the Cup will land in Cowes just in front of the Jubilee Village surrounded by a vanguard of Maori warriors brandishing flares to light the passage ashore.

A challenge, known in Maori as a "Wero", will be made to the Commodores of the Royal Yacht Squadron and the New York Yacht Club, the Cup's hosts for the week. This involves the transfer of a small symbolic dart called a "Taki". The way in which it is given and accepted relates to whether the Maori group and the people challenged have war-like or peaceful intentions.

Media are invited to attend the arrival ceremony and enjoy breakfast at the NZ Pavilion afterwards where they may meet members of Team New Zealand and photograph the Cup itself.

Louis Vuitton presents the America's Cup Legend

With 150 years of history the America's Cup has a vast collection of film and video associated with twenty of the 30 America's Cups - it was only in the late 19th century that the Lumière brothers invented the moving picture camera. Much of this historical film archive has never before been used in a historical summary of how the America's Cup got to where it is today.

With parts of this great collection Louis Vuitton has put together a novel and exciting collection using stills and films based on four of the Cup's major themes; 1851 - the beginning, the J-Class, the Cup's people and 20 years of the Louis Vuitton Cup. This exhibition will travel around the world to visit the major maritime museums of the competing countries in the next America's Cup, visiting Paris, London, Venice and New York before settling in Auckland for the next America's Cup season which starts in October 2002. The first place this exhibition will be seen will be in Cowes during the Jubilee Week where it will be housed in the Trinity Theatre on the Grove. Access will be via The Parade next to No. 13 Bath Road, and it will be open daily to the public. Entry will be free of charge.

America and the model

The America's Cup takes its name from the yacht America that won the Royal Yacht Squadron's 100 Guinea Cup in 1851. This yacht was sold almost immediately after her finest hour and passed through many hands before being destroyed in the 1940s in Annapolis, Maryland, when the shed she was housed in collapsed under the weight of snow that had fallen that winter. Parts of America still exist but the whole boat was never restored. Several replicas have been built however and perhaps the finest of these will be present in Cowes for the America's Cup Jubilee.

Although she will not be racing she will be taking part in the festivities and will be intregrale to the opening ceremony when she fires a single gun as a return salute to the Squadron's gunner on 19th August. This signal will mark the beginning of the America's Cup Jubilee.

Meanwhile another replica of the America nears completion in the workshops of jewellers, Benzie of Cowes. This two-foot long replica, crafted purely in silver by members of two generations of the Sutter silversmith family (Will and Jamie Sutter), will be presented to the Royal Yacht Squadron by Benzie. It is true to scale and shows America in her initial 1851 configuration.

The model will be known as the Benzie 'America' Trophy and will be awarded to the yacht that takes line honours in the Jubilee Race Around the Island on 21st August, the race that marks the 150th anniversary of the original Royal Yacht Squadron 100 Guinea Cup Race, won by the America.

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