Get behind Sir Ben in 2015 and join the party

Clive Smith says he would not like to arm wrestle athlete Caster Semenya 		Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

CLIVE SMITH: English pigs? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

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To perhaps the surprise of many outsiders, when it comes to throwing a party or staging international events, Portsmouth is up there with the world’s best.

Look at what happened in 1994.

First there was the Tour de France, beginning and ending one of its coveted stages in the city in front of crowds estimated at more than 500,000. We showed Yorkshire how to do it.

Earlier that memorable summer we had played host to the Queen and more than a dozen other world leaders to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The organisation of that event and the worldwide television coverage prompted praise from around the globe. The city and its waterfront looked magnificent.

Move on to 2005 and the 200th anniversary of Nelson’s against-the-odds victory at Trafalgar brought in hundreds of thousands of outsiders first intrigued and then impressed by the show we put on.

In 2012, when the Olympic torch arrived in the city, tens of thousands turned out on Southsea Common in support of our games. The numbers shocked many, but it was yet another example of our willingness to support great events.

And so we move to 2015 and Sir Ben Ainslie and his Portsmouth-based Great Britain team, who will be bidding to storm through qualifiers to make it to the finals of the America’s Cup in 2017.

Get the dates in your diary now. The four-day festival of world-class sailing runs from July 23-26.

And it’s estimated that at least 160,000 spectators will turn out to be part of this unique maritime event in the maritime capital of Britain. It’s anticipated the festival will pump more than £120m into the city’s economy.

There will be cynics who point to yachting being an elitist sport with no relevance to the man or woman on the Copnor omnibus.

But take a wander around our shoreline this weekend and look at the people from all backgrounds messing around with their boats both large and small.

This event will do nothing but good for the modern image of Portsmouth, bringing jobs, money and status. Bring it on.