But while Queen Victoria would recognize "Auld Mug" today, she likely wouldn't even register the watercraft racing after it as boats.
These vessels are like luxury yachts the way Formula 1 cars are like family sedans: They drive, and the similarities stop there. The folks eager to win sailing's greatest prize sink fortunes on the latest modern technology and materials, yielding vessels that don't so much plow through the water as fly above it.
Today, America's Cup defending champion Oracle Team USA unveiled the boat it will take to the briny deep in 2017. It looks like two black and red missiles, bound together with a lattice of carbon fiber tubing, and towered over by a fabric sail—the only conventional element. If it seems ready to take flight, it might be because Oracle tapped aviation giant Airbus to fine tune the design.