The America’s Cup is the most coveted trophy in sailing and a favorite pastime for billionaires. But for the first time since 1920, a lead-in event, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, will take place in New York harbor. On May 7th and 8th, catamarans will fly above the water on hydrofoil at speeds near 40 mph and race close to Manhattan’s shoreline.
“Bringing broader appeal to the sport is something that we’ve definitely been working on,” Sir Russell Coutts, the chief executive of the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA), said in a recent interview with Fortune’s Leigh Gallagher.
Coordinators for the event have lined up big sponsors, including Red Bull and Louis Vuitton. In an interview with Fortune, Coutts spoke about how The America’s Cup has been working to make the sport more mainstream. “In some ways, The America’s Cup faced problems similar to what golf faced 20 or 30 years ago, where you had this club mentality and it was pretty hard for people to get involved,” he said.
Six teams from the U.S., New Zealand, Great Britain, Sweden, Japan, and France will race in the New York event to compete for points that count toward the final competition for the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017.