I GREW UP racing small (Lightning class) sailboats, and was a kid during the infamous 1988 America’s Cup when Dennis Connor, faced with limited funding and a New Zealand team with the fastest mono-hull sailboat ever built, broke out in a radical new direction by racing (and winning) in a catamaran.

One of the news stories I remember from that time was how skipper Dennis Connor and crew had to actually train for the event not just in terms of sailing but of fitness, as sailing this new type of craft was so physical.

AC 45 class from 2011. Image by Gilles Martin Raget

Connor’s victory changed the America’s Cup forever, leading to an entire new designation of craft, the International America’s Cup Class (IACC).

It’s interesting to see how this has evolved today with the America’s Cup World Series, a series of match/fleet regattas leading up to the 2013 America’s Cup. The boats are all the same — the AC45 Class, which have hydrofoils that allow them to lift above the water in certain conditions, and reach extreme speeds.

Check out the next event in Naples from April 16-21, and then the main event this summer, which takes place in San Francisco.