Portsmouth’s relationship with the America’s Cup has so far not been entirely, if we may say so, plain sailing.
Firstly, there are some in Old Portsmouth – but only a minority – who were and are opposed to the building of the Ben Ainslie Racing base on the Camber.
Then, the few but vocal naysayers who said it was not the kind of event that would work in a city such as ours found an unlikely ally in the weather on this weekend last year, which created a literal and metaphorical washout. Torrential rain scuppered a proms night, and inconsistent ticketing problems left a bad taste after the pop concert last year. Combined with complaints about a ban on bringing food and drink into the spectators’ area, there were indeed some niggles to iron out.
However, The News has always been a keen supporter of staging the contest here. We make no excuses for saying that we think it brings the city great exposure and prestige across the world, as well as providing entertainment for those who live here. As last year’s economic report proved, there are welcome financial benefits too.
But if you want to see what we consider to be the true spirit of the America’s Cup in this city, don’t just read the interviews with the sailing teams (but equally please do not skip them!).
Make sure as well that you read the interviews with some of the 350 Wavemakers who have volunteered to make the event run smoothly.
Feel their enthusiasm, and admire their willingness to give their time and be part of the World Series, not for glory or personal gain, but for altruistic reasons. Portsmouth is at its best when it comes out in force, whether that be to line the streets for the Great South Run each year, to welcome the Olympic Torch in 2102, or on that unforgettable day in 2008, for the open-top bus parade for Pompey’s FA Cup winners.
So we say today, don’t fall for easy cynicism or mutterings about ‘a rich man’s sport’; instead come along with an open mind, join in, and even if you don’t know your tacking from your starboard, contribute to being part of an occasion to remember.