Speed and Innovation

Speed and Innovation in the America’s Cup

The America’s Cup is the world’s premier yachting race, a high-stakes “win-at-all-costs” international sailing competition. As the world’s oldest international sporting competition, predating modern olympics, the world’s best sailors and most advanced boats have competed for the coveted silver trophy since 1851. Single-hull boats, ranging from the massive J-boats of the 1930s to the 12-meter class that competed from the 1950s until the 1990s, were replaced in 2013 by double-hulled catamarans.

In this exciting new exhibition, visitors can explore hydrodynamics, see how J-foil dagger boards lift the boats above the water’s surface, and learn how the enormous wing sails power the boat and push it to speeds over 50 miles per hour. These technological advances allow these yachts to fly at near-highway speeds just above the water’s surface, making for very competitive and exciting races. Visitors will discover what it takes to be a crew member on an America’s Cup catamaran.

Oracle Team USA AC72 racing yacht

Above: Oracle Team USA AC72 racing yacht (Credit: Gulian Grenier, Oracle Team USA)

Speed and Innovation will also revisit the America’s Cup defense of 2013, recognized as one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. Oracle Team USA was down 8 races to 1, but they staged a dramatic comeback to successfully defend the trophy and win the 34th America’s Cup. Arguably the most exciting feature of Speed and Innovation is the centerpiece of the exhibition: the AC72 catamaran that won this race. Oracle Racing donated the yacht, now the largest boat in the Museum’s Collection.

Related Programs

Spring Lecture Series: America’s Cup in Bermuda

Presented by Jack Griffin

Thursday, May 4, 2017 · 7 PM

FREE for Members; $5 for non-members

Jack Griffin, guest curator for the Museum’s upcoming exhibition Speed and Innovation in the America’s Cup, shares shares the history of the Cup, what it takes to win the race, and what to expect at this year’s event in Bermuda. Griffin is Editor of Cup Experience, a unique newsletter and website dedicated to audience engagement for the America’s Cup, and author of Turning the Tide, a definitive account of Oracle Team USA’s comeback during the 2013 America’s Cup.

Speed and Innovation General Member Opening

Thursday, May 25 · 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Be among the first to experience Speed and Innovation in the America’s Cup, featuring Oracle Team USA’s 17, the 72-foot catamaran that won the 2013 America’s Cup.

Space is limited. Please respond by May 18 online below or call (757) 591-5129.

Please notice, this is a members-only event. Not a member? Join today!

RSVP Online Here

Speed and Innovation Opening Day Celebration

Saturday, May 27 · 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Free with Museum admission

To celebrate the opening of this exhibition on Saturday, May 27, visitors will have the opportunity to handle the individual materials used to construct the AC72, watch demonstrations that explore hydrofoil technology, and build and decorate their own model of a catamaran.

Boat Design Family Workshop

Saturday, May 27; Sunday, May 28; and June 10, 2017 · 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM

Price per child: $10 for Members, $15 for guests; Parents FREE! (plus Museum admission)

The yachts that race in the America’s Cup are unlike anything ever seen before on the water. They use the world’s most advanced aerodynamic and hydrodynamic technology to fly over the surface of the ocean at speeds up to 50 miles per hour! In this workshop, we’ll explore how the boats go so fast, with demonstrations of hydrofoiling drones and catamaran hull designs. We’ll finish by building and racing our own mini catamarans!

Register using the links below:

Spring Lecture Series: Technological Innovations in Sailing

Presented by Britton Ward

Thursday, June 22, 2017 · 7 PM

FREE for Members; $5 for guests

Britton Ward has designed different hulls for international sailing competitions like the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race. In this lecture, Ward will discuss how technological innovations have made boats remarkably faster each year.
Buy Tickets Here

Train Like an America’s Cup Sailor

Presented by Max Plarr, Head Sailing Coach at Christopher Newport University

Saturday, July 1, 2017 · 10 AM

FREE for Members; $5 for guests (plus Museum admission)

America’s Cup sailors are some of the world’s premier athletes. In order to power their amazing craft through the water, they must be in top physical form. In this family-friendly workshop, we’ll learn how these athletes stay in shape and try out some of the exercises they use to build muscle and endurance.

Buy Tickets Here


Masthead Sponsors


Oracle Racing logo

Mr. E. B. Peter Meekins and Mrs. Caddy R. Meekins


Mr. and Mrs. Nelson H. Forbes
Kay and Conway Sheild
Mr. McKim Williams, Jr.

In-kind support provided by:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
LiveLine Graphics
Hampton Roads Crane & Rigging
The Vacation Channel
Bill Kluge
Charles Landrum