A Look Ahead to America's Cup 2021 With Captain Charlie

By George Bains

With the 2021 America's Cup in New Zealand fast approaching, Captain Charlie Dwyer spoke to Superyachts.com about his experiences as both a spectator and competitor of the Cup, and why he hopes superyachts have the chance to experience the South Pacific in 2021.

How did you first become involved with America’s Cup and what has been your experience with the famous sporting event?

I grew up in Newport Rhode Island USA, the home of the America’s Cup since the early 1930s. It was the dream of every kid in Newport to be part of an America’s Cup Team. America’s Cup Skippers - with names like Vanderbilt, Olin Stephens, Ted Turner and Dennis Conner - were our heroes.

We did not follow football and baseball like normal kids in America. If you were from Newport it was all about the America’s Cup! As a kid I raced on Saturdays, then Sundays and then every day, until finally racing sailboats was my life.

I was invited to join the Courageous/Defender team after Liberty lost to Australia in 1983, breaking the 132-winning streak for the US. I went with the Courageous Team to Perth, Australia and participated in the 12 Meter World Championships in 1986. A year later I joined the Eagle Syndicate out of Newport Beach, California and returned to Australia in 1986 for the Louis Vuitton Challenge series.

What is your most outstanding memory of being part of the America’s Cup teams?

Just being part of an Americas Cup Team was a lifetime goal. Sailing in the 12 Meter World Championships in Perth, Australia in 1986, with 12 Twelve Meters on the starting line at one time, is about as exciting as it gets in the sailing world. This I will always remember. Another was the day they told us we were dismissed from further racing and it finally sank in that it was over.

What kind of challenges does being on an America’s Cup team present?

An America’s Cup Team has all the challenges of any team, whether it is Formula One or the NFL. Money, time and great leaders are the number one ingredients to overcome any of the challenges.

Over the generations of the America’s Cup things have changed a lot. From the wooden boats back in 1851 through all the different composites for building the tooling, boats and components. How have composites/materials and technology changed the America's Cups? 

It is a completely different game then when I was racing. 12 meters were made of aluminum and were very heavy and cumbersome. The nicknames are ‘12 pounders’ or ‘Dinosaurs’. With the introduction of Carbon Fiber and Aquadynamic lifting keels the America’s Cup moved into the realm of “spaceships on water” They fly! When I sailed, 12 knots was fast … now 45+ knots is standard.

What do you think of the New Zealand hosting of the event, the support from government, from sporting groups and support for countries that are racing?

I have been in New Zealand for the past few America’s Cup and they have been great hosts. Auckland and the Haruki Gulf are great places to sail the Cup. The Kiwi Government is supporting the cup all the way and it will be a great event.

Why is the America’s Cup a great event for Superyachts to attend?

I watched the past America’s Cup races in Auckland aboard the Sailing Yacht Yanneke Too. If you are not on an AC boat the next best thing is a Superyacht.

What can Superyachts expect to experience in the South Pacific should they head over this way for the Cup in 2021?

The trip to Auckland on a Superyacht is half the fun. The adventure of traveling through the South Pacific and Asia to get to the event is even more than half the fun!

As stated, Auckland and the Huaki Gulf are great sailing venues. As always downtown Auckland is set and ready for the Superyachts. The infrastructure is all in place and agents are ready to assist.This isn’t their first rodeo, the Kiwi’s know how to hold an event.If the 2021 America’s Cup is anything like the past America’s Cup held in Auckland the atmosphere will be incredible. 

"I have been in New Zealand for the past few America’s Cup and they have been great hosts."

Captain Charlie Dwyer, former America's Cup competitor

"I have been in New Zealand for the past few America’s Cup and they have been great hosts."

Captain Charlie Dwyer, former America's Cup competitor
By George Bains