If your idea of fun and YOLO-ing includes some exciting water activities, then you’re probably one of the millions of thrill seekers who have recently discovered the awesomeness of living life to the fullest by engaging in the worldwide craze on watersports. However, while the likes of surfing, scuba diving, and snorkeling have long been popularized by enthusiasts, more and more options have started to emerge in recent years. They may be set in the calm and peaceful natural bodies of water or in the most challenging water-terrain combinations out there.
Stand-up paddleboarding for instance is one of the newest water events that everyone is talking about—especially because of its semi-unique features that is interestingly confusing: a clever combination of canoeing and surfing. In a stand-up paddle, athletes should stand on a long board while using a paddle to propel and control its movement. This activity can be done either on flat water or in the waves.
Ever heard of ‘freediving?’ From the name itself, you’ll get the idea how this surreal and somehow ‘expert-level’ sports works. It’s actually more like scuba diving, but without your scuba gear, the oxygen tanks, or any kind of breathing apparatus. In other words, the ‘freedom’ from the heavy life-saving gears in diving relies on your ability to hold your breath underwater, diving several meters deep.
Another underrated watersports that has been recently making headlines is ‘coasteering,’ considered as the art of sea-level traversing. The truth is, this sport has been informally practiced in some European countries with rugged coastline and mountainous terrains like Wales. However, it was only in the 19th century when it became a commercially guided recreational activity. Basically, it’s an activity that requires athletes to move along the intertidal zone of rocky coastlines whether by swimming or on foot—without the help of boards and other water crafts.
In the more luxurious side of water sports, catamaran racing is an old but still growing competition. Designed for the wealthy, it showcases the latest in technological and design innovations in yachting. At the recent America’s Cup in Bermuda, a major offshore financial center, the world’s most expensive yachts broke many performance records and set the bar higher for the next installment of the race.
Next month, the 35th edition of the America’s Cup yacht race will officially commence. It will be held in Hamilton, Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory in Northern Atlantic and a major offshore financial center. For decades, the event has been touted as an ultra-expensive sport experience both to compete in and to be a spectator of. Participants spend millions on yachts and professionals teams; that means only a few challengers can afford to compete in each edition.
The 166-year-old contest is apparently putting things a notch higher by using hydrofoiling America’s Cup Class yachts for the 2017 edition, which are arguably the most advanced type of yacht in the world right now. More than the sleek design, the yachts were created to maximize aerodynamics, increasing their speed and performing powerfully even in rough waters. By reducing drag and engaging power, the hydrofoils are able to lift the hull out of the water and help it literally fly through the air. It is a technological feat in the world of sailing that has never been achieved before.
Revenues associated with the America’s Cup are massive. In the 1986-87 edition, for example, host Western Australia reportedly enjoyed more than $1 billion in overall economic gains. The quaint port city of Fremantle gained global attention and has easily become the region’s leisure hub since the event. The event is capable of generating thousands of associated jobs, millions in taxes, lucrative licensing deals with various media platforms, and hundreds of thousands of visitors.
What makes America’s Cup more than just a sailing event is its technological pedigree only a few other events could match. It is a magnet of magnates; a sport extravagance that is both a showcase of man’s innovative capabilities and an homage to its historic roots. To keep the event spectacular, Bermuda is spending $77 million as host. This includes a $15 million sponsorship fee, $25 million on infrastructure improvements and new facilities, and $12 million in event operating costs. The territory has also underwritten a $25-million guarantee against commercial sponsorship.
Current title holders are the Oracle Team USA and will be challenged by whoever would win the 2017 Louis Vuitton Cup. The event has been preceded by the 2015–16 America’s Cup World Series.