Johnny Young couldn't have envisioned a better entrance.
Young paraded around the Hilton Head Island High School auditorium Friday night with the focus all to himself. As music blared through the loudspeakers, Young strutted to the front of the theater embraced by a standing ovation, applause, and of course, the spotlight shining on him.
Only the warm reception wasn't for him.
It was for the America's Cup, which is making its first-ever appearance in South Carolina this week. The trophy -- the oldest of its kind in international sport -- has been awarded to the winner of the America's Cup, the pinnacle event in sailing, since 1851.
But Young didn't seem too disappointed that the red-carpet treatment wasn't for him.
"I love this opportunity, of course I do," the Long Cove Club employee said with a smile. "It's a very prestigious occasion to have the oldest trophy in the history of sports on Hilton Head Island."
The trophy arrived here with Tom Ehman and his colleague, Norbert Bajurin. The pair are on the coast this week for their presentation "Flying on Water," which they will now to take to Charleston, where Charleston Race Week will be held.
"When you get a group like this that's obviously a big sailing community, it's a perfect place," said Ehman, who is the Vice Commodore of San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club.
Ehman spoke to the crowd for about an hour and a half, providing updates on the 2013 America's Cup -- which will be held in San Francisco Bay next year -- while also emphasizing sailing to the children in the audience, in addition to a question-and-answer session.
But at the end of the night, the focus was all on the Cup, which posed for pictures with a long line of residents following the show's conclusion.
Ehman made sure to divulge a handful of stories about the 161-year-old trophy, like the font size of the winners remaining the same until Switzerland gained control of it in 2003. When the Americans finally reclaimed it, they opted to turn the Swiss' larger inscription to the back where it wouldn't be seen.
The stories grabbed the attention of not only those in attendance Friday evening, but also of the children who got an earlier showing in the afternoon, which was Ehman's ultimate goal.
"They were riveted. They get it," said Ehman, who has worked on 11 straight America's Cup campaigns since 1980. "They understand why it's something interesting and unique. If we inspired one or two of these kids to follow up on America's Cup or something else, then that's good.
"We can raise the awareness for the Cup among groups here, that's icing on the cake, which we've obviously done, I think."
The trophy's arrival to the Island was anything but easy. As Bajurin tried to board his flight, he was stopped by attendants after its Louis Vuitton case was too big for a first class seat. Since the 4 1/2 foot trophy only flies first class, Bajurin -- the Commodore of the San Francisco Golden Gate Yacht Club -- sent the case to cargo before buckling the America's Cup into the seat beside him.
The trophy, which was guarded by Young and Ridgeland resident Willie Rice, received first-class treatment of its own Friday night. And it's that treatment that has Ehman excited about the future of sailing on Hilton Head.
"If there's some real -- and we know there is -- interest here in hosting a future America's Cup World Series Regatta, then we've really hit a home run," he said.