Inside the America's Cup World Series Finals

Courtesy ACEA 2012 / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

We go behind the scenes and on the water at the 2011–12 America’s Cup World Series Finals in Newport, Rhode Island.

Arriving at Newport, Rhode Island’s Marble House, a former Vanderbilt family estate inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles, for the 18th America’s Cup Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 29, it was hard not to miss her. The petite and very private fashion designer Miuccia Prada rarely makes public appearances, but this night she stood by the entrance glowing with pride as she watched the slew of VIPs arrive. They were there to honor her husband, Prada Group CEO Patrizio Bertelli, along with three-time America’s Cup winner Jonathan Wright and sailing legend Gerard B. Lambert Sr.

Bertelli has been sailing and racing yachts his whole life, and in 1997, he founded the Italian team Luna Rossa Challenge to participate in the America’s Cup. So in addition to the Hall of Fame celebration, Miuccia had an exciting weekend ahead with teams Luna Rossa-Piranha and Luna Rossa-Swordfish competing against Oracle Team USA-Spithill and Coutts and four other race crews in this final edition of the 2011–12 America’s Cup World Series—the newest event leading up to the 34th America’s Cup taking place in San Francisco in September 2013. The World Series began in August 2011, in Cascais, Portugal, then continued on to Plymouth, England; San Diego, California; Naples, Italy; and Venice, Italy, before concluding the weekend of June 29 to July 1 in Newport.

The inaugural World Series races marked the return of an America’s Cup event to Newport for the first time since 1983 and proved to be a thrilling spectacle worthy of the challenge. Aside from the 45-foot high-speed catamarans that were faster and more physically demanding than the 12-Meters or J Boats that raced the America’s Cup nearly 30 years ago, the occasion was a breakthrough in broadcasting with high-tech television graphics helping viewers better understand what was going on in the waters of Narragansett Bay. With the same technology used to show first downs during a football game, NBC, which aired the race live, was able to project the outlines of the race course, the paths of the boats and 100-meter lines that made it easier to keep track of who was in the lead.

And when you take into consideration that these wing-sailed boats are about half the size of the multihull 72-footers that will compete for yachting’s ultimate trophy next year, the anticipation grows for fans of the sport and the sailors who were popping the corks of Moët & Chandon Champagne throughout the weekend.