CITY leaders have welcomed two prestigious America’s Cup sailing regattas to be held in Portsmouth as a major boost to the local economy.
It comes as the competing skippers – including Sir Ben Ainslie, whose race base is being built at the Camber Dock in Old Portsmouth – were unveiled at a press conference yesterday.
Teams from Sweden, New Zealand, Italy and France – along with Sir Ben’s Great Britain team – will each host two regattas from 2015/16 to vie for the chance to take on defending champions the USA.
Sir Ben yesterday confirmed both of the British regattas will be staged in Portsmouth, which is expected to bring more than £1m into the local economy.
Councillor Donna Jones, the Tory leader of Portsmouth City Council, has welcomed the regattas.
She said: ‘It’s brilliant because already within one year of Ben Ainslie announcing he will be based in Portsmouth, we’re going to be hosting one of the largest international sailing events.
‘This will benefit Portsmouth’s hotels, cafes and shops, with an upturn in trade and the start of job creation in Portsmouth.
‘I’d expect the boost to the local sub-region to be in excess of £1m from hosting this one race alone.’
It has been reported that hosting a regatta in 2011 was worth £9m to Plymouth.
As reported, Sir Ben’s decision to base his team in Portsmouth for at least the next two America’s Cup events is expected to bring around 1,000 jobs and more than £40m into the local economy.
Hundreds of people turned out at a meeting in Portsmouth Cathedral to back the bid in June. The plans were approved by the city council in the same month despite some opposition.
Jim Page, sailing secretary at Portsmouth Sailing Club, said: ‘They’re going to be bringing a lot publicity to Portsmouth – there’s no doubt about that, and also a lot of other benefits to tourism and sailing for young people.’
The winning nation from the America’s Cup regattas will take on Team USA in either Bermuda or San Diego in 2017.
But despite playing a key role in America’s comeback victory over New Zealand last year, Sir Ben would not reveal if he will be part of British crew.
The five-time Olympic sailing champion said: ‘We are putting together a predominately British sailing team.’
‘(It will be) a mixture of experienced guys who have been successful in the cup and some younger talent coming through, particularly British talent.
‘If we were going racing tomorrow I would be steering the boat but that might not be the answer in a couple of years’ time.’
Sir Ben also said the bid to have a GB team in Portsmouth will cost £80m but not all the cash is in yet.
Last year the 37-year-old helped Oracle Team USA go from an almost certain defeat at 8-1 to a 9-8 win. The America’s Cup is held every four years.
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