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Local Sports

The Pressbox

America’s Cup competition piques interest of landlubber

Living my whole life in land-locked Kansas, right smack in the middle of the United States, it might be hard to believe I take notice of the America’s Cup competition. For those who might not know, the America’s Cup is a sailing competition and is known for the oldest trophy in international sports.

The 2013 America’s Cup race is being hosted by the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco Bay. Challenger vessels have been competing since July 7 in the Louis Vuitton Cup  Challenger Series. Waiting on the winner of that series of races is the Oracle of the United States.

Last Saturday, Italy’s Luna Rossa sailed into the final of the America’s Cup challenger series, completing a 4-0 sweep over the Swedish syndicate Artemis. With the win, Luna Rossa advanced to the final of the Louis Vuitton Cup against Emirates Team New Zealand. The best-of-13 series starts this Saturday.

The Oracle is the defending America’s Cup champion, winning the 33rd America’s Cup in February 2010 off the coast of Valencia, Spain.

So, why does this Kansan take notice of the sailing championship, which is really the sport of the really wealthy? Blame it on Dennis Conner and his Liberty in 1983. In that year’s America’s Cup, an Australian team beat Liberty in a deciding seventh race, taking the Cup away from the New York Yacht Club for the first time in 132 years.

Conner came back in 1987, representing the San Diego Yacht Club. Conner’s Stars and Stripes team reclaimed the America’s Cup in the race Down Under in four races. New Zealand used a loop hole and demanded an immediate challenge in 1988.

All of of this was being played out on television for the American public. Losing the Cup, winning it back and defending it was the big rage during this span. The drumming of national pride was beating out there.

In that 1988 race, two different styles of boat raced. New Zealand had a 90-foot waterline boat against a much smaller, faster hard-winged catamaran of Conner’s American team. Changes came to the America’s Cup — the America’s Cup Class of boats with more modern design.

I was just drawn to something new. The America’s Cup drew a lot of attention throughout the 1980s and 1990s. How much interest was there? Well, the 1992 movie “Wind” was based on events surrounding the America’s Cup during that span.

In 1992, a boat by American billionaire Bill Koch won the right to defend the Cup for America, then beat Italy. Then, in 1995, Conner was back at the helm of Stars & Stripes defending the Cup and lost it to New Zealand. Not until the Oracle won the Cup in 2010 was an American yacht in the America’s Cup final since 1995.

Since it’s back in our “backyard”, so to speak, I’ve kept my eye on the America’s Cup races in San Francisco. The final race series begins Sept. 7.

HIGH SCHOOL fall sports practices are underway. Newton’s boys open the golf season next Monday. Most of the other sports open up during the week of Aug. 26. The NHS volleyball team is at home with its invitational, the NCMP Aquagirls host their first home meet on Aug. 27 and the Newton cross country teams begin the season Aug. 29 at Ames.

High school football kicks off the 2013 season Aug. 30

A SHOUT OUT to my red-hot Kansas City Royals. They took three of four games at home against the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox over the weekend. Monday night, the Royals dealt out a 6-2 loss to visiting Miami.

No matter what happens the rest of the season, it is great to see the Royals playing good baseball. They are 62-54. Wow, that’s eight games over .500. As a Royals fan, it’s been awhile since my team has had a record like this at this point in the season.

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