1851 was the year of a yachting race in Great Britain, held on August 22. 14 British ships were racing, and one schooner was American, called "America." Upon that victory, the competition was named, the trophy was brought back to New York, and the America's Cup was born. The second competition was held in 1870, and then it was held on an irregular schedule, normally every two to four years, but sometimes with a decade or two between races.
Yesterday this season's America's Cup began in Bermuda, where over the next month the "Great Sound" will be filled with racing, involving competitions of teams of 6 nations. Defending Champions are the United States of America, whose skipper is James Spithill of Australia. Most unfortunately, the yachts of yesteryear no longer can take part. When experimental floating vessels were introduced, a few decades ago, they developed into almost unrecognizable and unsafe versions of a ship. Reason prevailed, though, and dictates came down from on high, so while the racing may be thrilling, and still maintain a certain kind of beauty, it is no overtly unsafe. The USA squad sail in a catamaran which can go as fast as 45 knots, with a foil on the back which helps it fly about the surface of the water. In any case, only about 7 feet are submerged beneath the water.
This should be a thrilling month, with beautiful and evocative spectacles which awake man's primal yearning for the sea. In today's round robin races, New Zealand contends with the USA, Great Britain with Japan, Sweden with France, and finally the United States with Great Britain. The best to all the teams in this year's America's Cup.
In England: FA Cup final, Arsenal vs. Chelsea. This year has been a year of ups and down, down, downs for Arsenal, one of England's best known and premier soccer teams. The year when Arsenal’s ever-present streak in the Uefa Champions League ends cannot be called fantastic, especially when the other five of England’s top six clubs should all advance instead. Sometimes English football is not just about wins and losses, though, it is about revenge, and meeting a bitter enemy head on and winning. Arsenal and Chelsea meet in the FA Cup final this evening, and some fans think that a win there could "salvage" the season for the Gunners. Arsenal has won eight of their last nine games, losing only to Tottenham somewhere in there, so they finished a mediocre season strong, and want desperately to go out on top. The season has been so strange, they lost to lesser opponents, put beat both Manchester clubs. Chelsea is in the catbird seat, only having lost only six of their last 32 matches with Arsenal. The winner of this afternoons match is hardly "in the cards," but a win or loss will perhaps cause more ink to be spilled over Arsenal than Chelsea.
In Monaco: Grand Prix: The Grand Prix of Monaco will be raced on Sunday and today, as the past few days, the streets of Monte Carlo will be shut down to welcome those drivers competing in the qualifying rounds. Qualifying is important at the best of times, but in Monte Carlo, a top qualifier is usually the winner on race day. Only once in the past 30 years has a driver won the race starting lower than third after the qualifiers. Saturday’s session is usually one of the highlights of the season. The streets of Monte Carlo are narrow and steep, and drivers push to the limit on a track which has no margin for error, with the barriers so close to the edge of the racecourse.
In Australia: in Aussie Rules Football, Saturday's prime match seems to be that between the Western Bulldogs, winners of last year's Grand Final, and the St Kilda Saints. Both teams make the Etihad Stadium their home stadium, and both teams have had rough starts this season. Etihad is an indoor stadium, with its own influence on the games. The Bulldogs have a 5-4 start to this season, and have staggered to the end in their wins. The Saints had won three straight, but lost on their home turf to Sydney last week, losing by 50 points. In their last several meetings, they are evenly matched, but the Bulldogs are undefeated in their four games at Etihad this season. Other AFL action includes Melbourne at the Gold Coast Suns, Richmond at Essendon, and the Adelaide Crows at Freemantle.