The WISCH LIST
By Dave Wischnowsky
In Chicago, we’ve seen the World Cup (Opening Ceremony, 1994). We’ve seen the Stanley Cup (often, in recent years). And we’ve seen the Crosstown Cup (can’t the Cubs and White Sox just mothball that thing?).
But a Cup that we’ve never seen is America’s. Until now.
From June 10-12, sailing’s most famous racing competition will dip its toe in Chicago for the first time as the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series splashes into Lake Michigan. Featuring the world’s best sailors competing on 45-foot wing-sailed, hydro-foiled, multi-hull catamarans, the World Series – a phrase rarely associated with Chicago – is the first stage of competition in the 35th America’s Cup that began last summer and will culminate in the America’s Cup finals in 2017 in Bermuda.
Chicago submitted a bid to host the finals that Bermuda won, but was instead awarded the consolation prize of the World Series –something that the Cubs hope to host in 2016 too. The race, which could be a trial run for Chicago to ultimately host the finals, brings the America’s Cup into fresh water for the first time in its 165-year history, and will involve six teams (New Zealand, Japan, France, Sweden, Great Britain and defending champion Oracle Team USA) competing at speeds up to 35 knots (40 mph) on a course that stretches between Navy Pier and Adler Planetarium.
If you’re at all like me and barely know your starboard side from your port (that would be left and right), there’s probably a lot about America’s Cup that you didn’t know. Here are a few factoids to get you seaworthy.
Second place, first loser
In August 1851, a schooner emerged from the afternoon mist off the southern coast of England and swiftly sailed past the Royal Yacht stationed near the Isle of Wight while Queen Victoria was aboard watching a sailing race. As the schooner, named America, zipped past in first position, and saluted the Queen by dipping its ensign flag three times, she asked one of her attendants to tell her who was in second place.
“Your majesty, there is no second,” was the reply.
According to the America’s Cup website, that phrase is still the best description of the competition and how it represents the singular pursuit of excellence.