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The Enduring Legacy of Louis Vuitton in the America’s Cup

To many, the modern-day America’s Cup began with Australia II’s magnificent victory in Newport, Rhode Island in 1983, beating Dennis Conner’s Liberty and ending 132 years of the New York Yacht Club’s dominance of the event since the yacht ‘America’ won the inaugural race around the Isle of Wight in 1851. / Arte

Louis Vuitton’s involvement with the America’s Cup dates back to 1983, that most famous of regattas, when the company sponsored the challenger selection trophy and from there it grew into one of the greatest sports marketing associations of all time.

The genesis of the company’s involvement was the arrival in 1970 of multiple international challengers all wishing to take on the defender of the America’s Cup, the New York Yacht Club, with entries from France, Australia, Great Britain and even a non-starter from Greece. That regatta prompted much interest in France with the swash-buckling Baron Bich spearheading what would become multiple French challengers over the next decades.

The Australians dominated the challenger selections from 1970 through to 1983, first with Sir Franck Packer’s Gretel II and then a series of Alan Bond-backed yachts culminating in Australia II, the famous winged-keel yacht, designed by Ben Lexcen, that would go on to victory in 1983.

For 1983, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, in conjunction with the New York Yacht Club created ‘The Challenger’s Cup’ and it was French yachtsman, Bruno Troublé, himself a skipper of a succession of French America’s Cup challengers, that was widely viewed as the go-between between the America’s Cup and Louis Vuitton to adopt the title sponsorship.

The regatta that captured the world’s attention in a time of grainy television, print newspaper, and the internet merely a dream some 20 years away from reality, was the springboard for Louis Vuitton to build a global powerhouse fashion brand, itself with a history like the America’s Cup that stretched back to 1854, and the eponymous house of Louis Vuitton’s creation.  

Louis Vuitton’s involvement with the America’s Cup and the Challenger Selection Series ran from 1983 through to 2003 and with the exception of the 1988 and 2010 ‘Deed of Gift’ challenges where no international multiple challenges could be received in those one-on-one Matches, although the company did sponsor both the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series and the Louis Vuitton Cup whilst the future direction of the America’s Cup was decided.

The company’s support has been peerless in world sport and after a brief hiatus after the America’s Cup in 2007, Louis Vuitton returned for the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco before going on to sponsor the World Series regattas leading up to both the 2013 and 2017 America’s Cup regattas as well as the Challenger Selection Series for both.

Apart from their magnificent support over the decades, Louis Vuitton also is synonymous with the America’s Cup trophy having crafted a stunning, bespoke travel case in the brand’s iconic gold monogram and deep brown leather that ages spectacularly enhancing its lustre with brass appointments for the clasps that keep the trophy safe when it travels the globe.

The safety of the trophy that dates back to 1848 when it was purchased from the stock of R&S Garrard of Panton Street, the Crown Jewellers of the day, by the 1st Marquess of Anglesey, Henry William Paget, is thus assured.

Louis Vuitton’s return for the 37th America’s Cup is a welcome addition to the Challenger Selection Series as Grant Dalton, CEO of America’s Cup Event confirmed: “We welcome Louis Vuitton back to the heart of the America’s Cup as the Official Title sponsor of the Louis Vuitton Challenger Selection Series- once again to be affectionately known as The Louis Vuitton Cup.

The Louis Vuitton Cup will run from Thursday 29 August 2024 through to the final day for racing on Monday 7 October 2024, when the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup will be decided and have 5 days to prepare to meeting Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup match starting on October 12th.

Their involvement over the decades since 1983 has been a masterclass in sports sponsorship, helping to grow out the America’s Cup to the widest international audience all over the globe. Their support is key to the success and prestige of the 37th America’s Cup here in Barcelona in 2024 and we are delighted to partner with Louis Vuitton in making this the most successful and competitive America’s Cup of all time.”

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