Photo / Dean Purcell

Viva's Comprehensive America's Cup Cheat Sheet

Everything you need to know about yachting, foiling and grinding ahead of the 36th America's Cup presented by Prada

Boats are exciting, and the 36th America's Cup presented by Prada is the first big international event of the year, so everyone's frothing for a slice of the international action. If, however, you've found yourself flubbing basic sailing knowledge, wondered what gybing is or asked "Has it started yet?" then you'll relish our America's Cup Cheat Sheet.

Collated by Viva's expert team of hat wearers, boat admirers, Prada super-fans and Champagne connoisseurs, it contains everything you need to know to fake your way through the many, many races, practical advice to keep you both stylish and sun smart, and it may even spark an enduring interest in this glamorous sport.


The Prada America’s Cup World Series: Auckland December 17-19, 2020

This is the first opportunity teams have to race together ahead of the challenger series, and is held on the same racecourse as that event.

Update — Emirates Team New Zealand took out this cup, winning five of their six races. American Magic won four, Luna Rossa three, and INEOS Team UK lost all their races. Thanks to G.H.Mumm Champagne and Prada, Viva was on the water with Luna Rossa's guest boat to watch the breathtaking racing first hand.

Prada Christmas Race: December 20, 2020

This event has two knock-out stages, with the winners of each heading to the final race. However, no races were completed due to lack of wind.

The Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series: Jan 15-Feb 22, 2021

This series consists of four round robins (three races each), a semi-final (seven races) and a final (13 races) between the two leading teams. The winner gets to race in the America's Cup.

The 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada: March 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 2021

The main event. There are only two boats in this race — the cup defenders Emirates Team New Zealand, and the winner of The Prada Cup (the challengers).

Emirates Team New Zealand. Photo / Michael Craig


All the teams must race the same boats. During this cup the teams are racing AC75 Class yachts, foiling monohulls which are “designed to fly” thanks to cantilevered foiling arms and a T-foil rudder (and lots of other cutting-edge design features that we can’t quite get our heads around).

Foils are attached to the hull and sit in the water (working a similar way to how planes fly). When the boats pick up speed, the hydrofoils lift the hull up and out of the water — creating less drag and increasing speed.

Mumm Yacht Club. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

The technology is quite recent, first appearing in 2012, before the updated AC75 Class Rule (the design parameters for eligible yachts) in 2018 made them pivotal to the design of cup boats.

The AC75 Class Rule defines the rules within which the yachts in the America’s Cup can be designed. The boats are mandated as a 75-foot-long sailing hydrofoil monohull, with supplied foil arms, rigging and canting systems (a canting keel sits beneath the boat to maintain its direction), plus strict limitations on the number of components that can be built.


Emirates Team New Zealand, led by helmsman Peter Burling
The three-time America’s Cup winners and four-time Louis Vuitton Cup winners are the defenders for the America’s Cup 2021.

Photo / Alex Burton

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team — Italy

The best-dressed team is led by team director and skipper Max Sirena. The chairman of Luna Rossa, Patrizio Bertelli, is the CEO of Prada Group and husband to the one and only Miuccia. Sailing for Luna Rossa is Jimmy Spithill — the Australian who skippered Oracle to victory in 2010 and 2013, before losing to Team New Zealand in Bermuda in 2017.

New York Yacht Club American Magic — USA

Challenger American Magic is led by executive director and skipper Terry Hutchison. Formed in 2017 between Bella Mente Racing, Quantum Racing, and the New York Yach Club, American Magic’s home base is Rhode Island, New York. New Zealand yachtsman Dean Barker (skipper of Emirates Team NZ in the 2007 Valencia America’s Cup and in 2013 at the Louis Vuitton Cup) is sailing for American Magic in 2021, alongside fellow Kiwis Joe Spooner, Jim Turner and Sean Clarkson.

Ineos Team UK — United Kingdom

Challengers led by team principal and skipper, and successful Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie. The team is backed by Ineos founder and chairman Sir Jim Ratcliff. The Ineos sailing crew includes Olympic gold medallist and team tactician Giles Scott, and on its leadership team is four-time cup winner Grant Simmer (CEO) and Nick Holroyd (chief designer), a key player in introducing foiling technology to the cup.


Quick history swot

Considered the ultimate event in the yachting calendar, the America’s Cup is named after an exceptionally fast schooner called America that defeated Britain's Royal Yacht Squadron, whose owners donated the cup to the New York Yacht Club for competition between different countries. The cup (also called the 'Auld Mug') was first contested in 1851, making it the oldest active trophy in international sport. The United States held the cup for an unbelievable 132 years, until Australia successfully challenged the trophy in 1983, and since then it has been a fiercely contested two-yacht race held around the world.

Why does NZ care?

Established in 1993 by the late Sir Peter Blake, Team New Zealand won the cup in 1995 with the boat Black Magic, and defended it successfully in 2000 — an event that brought the glamour, excitement and money of the America's Cup to Auckland’s Viaduct, where its mark has remained ever since. We’re an island country with a long history of seafaring, as well as being naturally competitive when it comes to our sporting prowess, so following the America’s Cup has become something of a national pastime.

Who are the key sponsors?

There is a swathe of prestigious, powerful brands throwing their weight behind the famous event. The 36th America’s Cup is presented by luxury fashion brand Prada (the naming rights sponsor). Champagne brand G.H.Mumm is one of the key partners (they’ve created a limited-edition Cuvee bottle especially for the occasion) as are Emirates and Coca-Cola, while Omega is the official timekeeper.

Team New Zealand is sponsored by Emirates, while the Italians Luna Rossa are backed by Prada and Pirelli. American Magic has Airbus and TSI in their corner, while Team UK has Ineos as a naming partner and are also supported by the likes of Belstaff, Grenadier and Mercedes-Benz.


The America’s Cup Race Village

Located in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, The America’s Cup Race Village spans from Hobson Wharf to Te Wero Island and the Eastern Viaduct to North Wharf and Silo Park. The Village is open from 9am to 11pm on racing days, and 10am to 10pm on non-race days. There’s a great big screen next to the Mumm Yacht Club on Te Wero Island, and another in Silo Park.

Viva Magazine - Volume 2. Photo / Grace Gemuhluoglu. Styling / Chloe Hill.

On a boat!

Powered boats longer than five metres are encouraged to take part in the action, with plenty expected to jostle for a front-row position at each race. Expect to find clearly marked transit lanes alongside the racecourses to guide powered vessels past. Races begin at 3pm so it’s a good idea to secure a spot fairly early (courses are set up at 2pm). Look out for the yachts with high-vis tubes on the forestay (see terminology below) marking each corner of the racing area. There are also numbered orange buoys delineating the course so you can share your location with fellow boaties. Visit the America’s Cup website for updated information on safety and regulations.

Find a great seaside perspective

See racecourse zones below.

A+P Luna Rossa 21. Photo / Supplied


TVNZ will be live broadcasting the race.


Each race will be live-streamed on YouTube, Facebook and at


The racecourse is Auckland’s beautiful Hauraki Gulf and Waitamata Harbour, with five different courses to suit varying weather conditions.

Race Course A: The northernmost race area, which runs along Auckland’s East Coast Bays from Castor Bay to Cambells Bay. This can be sailed in most wind directions. Where to Watch: Takapuna Beach, Milford Beach, Kennedy Park

Race Course B: Nestled in between Rangitoto and Takapuna Beach, with boats sailing from Devonport to Takapuna. Watch it from: Cheltenham Beach: Narrowneck Beach, Mount Victoria, North Head

Race Course C: Between North Head and Bastion Point, brings the racing right into the heart of the Harbour, meaning it can be viewed from lots of city vantage points. Watch it from: Bastian Point, Orakei, Tamaki Drive, North Head, Mount Victoria

Race Course D: Takes advantage of westerly and easterly winds, positioned in the Motukorea Channel between Rangitoto and Motukorea Island, with boats sailing past St Heliers Bay. Watch it from: Orakei and Tamaki Drive

Race Course E: This has two zones depending on winds, one off the coast of Beachlands, the other closer to Whitford and Howick, both ideal for northerly winds. Watch it from: Maraetai


Auld Mug: Affectionate term or nickname for the America’s Cup.

Knots: The speed at which the boat travels. Boats are expected to reach 50 knots (92km per hour) during the America’s Cup.

Grinder: No, it’s not the dating app; it’s the name of a crewmember whose job it is to operate manual winches to raise and trim the sails and move the boom. Grinding is a tough job, being both physically demanding and crucial to the boat’s performance. Emirates Team New Zealand made history in 2017 when they introduced leg-powered pedal grinders instead of arm-powered, dramatically increasing the power of the boat. They drew on the expertise of Olympic cyclist Simon van Velthooven to turn the team into elite on-board cyclists, who eventually sailed to victory in Bermuda. The team has returned to traditional arm grinders for the 2021 race.

Tacking: A sailing manoeuvre that changes the course of the boat by moving the bow of the boat through the wind.

Gybing or Jibing (US): The opposite of tacking, turning the stern of the boat through the wind to change the boat’s direction.

Hun: Alternatively known as ‘hon’, short for honey, she can be found sipping on bubbles and having a jolly good time.

Forestay: Sometimes called a stay, the forestay is a piece of standing rigging that keeps the mast from falling backwards. It is attached either at the very top of the mast, or about 1/8 and 1/4 from the top of the mast.

Foils or hydrofoils: Wing-like foils mounted under the hull that propel the boat out of the water at high speed, resulting in decreased drag and increased speed.

AC75: A boat class, defined by the “AC75 Class Rule”, that is raced in the 36th America’s Cup.


What to wear on a boat?

Flat shoes or sandals with grip (if the deck gets hot) or bare feet. Be sure to have a pedicure.

Don't wear a billowy dress (it’s windy at sea).

Breton stripes — très chic! A navy and white striped marinière shirt was once part of the French Navy’s uniform (the stripes represented Napoleonic victories) and became adopted by seafarers and yacht-adjacent folk ever since.

A collared shirt is smart, practical and it keeps the sun off your neck. Go for a breathable, natural fibre like cotton or linen, in a light hue that will reflect the heat.

Please wear a hat. Avoid styles that can take flight, instead choose a cap or a hat with a charming chin tie.

Fabulous sunglasses are essential.

A light sweater tied just so. This is a cornerstone of the preppy look, and proves quite functional when the wind gets up.

A headscarf is a chic alternative to a hat (it was a look favoured by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis). If tied securely, it’s a great way to keep your head covered and hair back on a breezy day.

Yara Shahidi for Prada Linea Rossa FW20

The new Adidas for Prada sneakers

The next chapter of the partnership between Adidas and Prada, the A+P Luna Rossa 21 sneaker was designed specifically for the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team. Inspired by the boat itself, as well as archival sneakers from both brands, these futuristic sneakers are the ultimate status symbol to wear around the America's Cup Village and any Auckland hot spots.

The America's Cup 1995, San Diego. Photo / NZ Herald

What to wear to Mumm Yacht Club?

Premium pop-up bar Mumm Yacht Club on Te Wero wharf is a key destination for watching the events, and fittingly it has a “yacht club casual” dress code. Leave your jandals and singlets at home, and instead opt for seersucker and chinos, a linen suit with a T-shirt, white on white, or a stylish sundress.

Red Socks

Originally donned by the late Sir Peter Blake for luck (he wore them when his New Zealand won the 1995 America's Cup) red socks became a symbol of patriotism and support for Team New Zealand during the 2000 event in Auckland.

Photo / Dean Purcell

Linea Rossa

Given it's the uniform worn by the Luna Rossa sailing team and all the Prada staff at the event, Linea Rossa brings a taste of Italian luxury fashion to the Viaduct. It's a great way to show your support for the 36th America's Cup presented by Prada; with technical fabrics, simple design and a dashing red stripe, the range is a natural fit for taking in the action.

First launched in 1997 as Prada Sport, the range is founded around the luxury brand's signature nylon fabric, and helped shape the sporty, futuristic minimalism that defined fashion and pop culture at the end of the decade. Renamed Linea Rossa in 2009 (due to its distinctive red stripe branding) before being retired, the brand was revived again in 2018 to the delight of Prada fans around the world with its practical, forward-looking design and noughties references feeling quite apt right now.

Photo / Brett Phibbs

How to be sun safe?

If you’re out on the water, high SPF is mandatory. Here are some of our favourites. Apply liberally 20 minutes before exposure to the sun, and don’t forget to coat the space under your chin, which gets reflective glare off the ocean. Sunglasses aren’t just a cute accessory, they’re also important to protect your eyes from the sun and the glare.


What to drink?

G.H. Mumm Champagne. 
Negronis — bold and bitter, they’re an Italian classic
Cold Kiwi crafties; support local with a craft beer from the likes of Garage Project, Hallertau or any of our nation's keen brewers.
Water!!! The sun dehydrates you and so does alcohol. Thank us later.

Hang out with the Italians to feel ‘internationallllleee’

Find them at the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli base at the end of Hobson Wharf.

Take a crash course in Italian

Ciao, Buon giorno, salve! — Three different greetings
Grazie — Thank you
Andiamo — Here we go
Salute — Cheers
Mi scusi — Excuse me.
In bocca al lupo! — Good luck!
Una bottiglia di Champagne, per favore — One bottle of Champagne, please


The bridge to Te Wero Island must be raised for all the boats that are watching the race to come back to port — this process can take up to half an hour. To avoid being stuck on the wharf in the hot sun, time your return to avoid this, or walk the long way.

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