PORTSMOUTH’S America’s Cup World Series has been the given the royal seal of approval after the Duke of Edinburgh visited the city.
Prince Philip was the first high-profile royal to arrive in Portsmouth as the international sporting spectacle kicked off.
He went to the base of Land Rover BAR as Sir Ben Ainslie and his crew romped to victory in the opening practice race.
The Duke of Edinburgh, 95, spent an hour being given a tour of the hi-tech facility before heading out on to the water to see to see all six teams racing from a yacht.
His visit came ahead of that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are set to arrive in the city tomorrow to witness the international spectacle.
Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones was delighted by the support of the royal family and said it was helping to propel the Portsmouth America’s Cup races to new heights.
Coverage through the weekend at our dedicated site americascup.portsmouth.co.uk
‘It’s an honour for all of Portsmouth to be able to welcome the royal family to the city,’ she told The News.
‘The visit of Prince Philip and Kate and William on Sunday is helping to position the America’s Cup in Portsmouth as one of the premier international sporting events.’
The Duke arrived at Land Rover BAR as the Red Arrow display team roared over the city, letting off red, white and blue smoke trails.
His tour saw him meeting the design and engineering team responsible for building the British team boat that will race for the America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017.
He then sailed out into the Solent alongside hundreds of other boats to enjoy a front-row seat for the series of practice races.
Martin Whitmarsh, chief executive of Land Rover BAR, said the Duke’s visit was a delight.
He added: ‘It has given the whole team a huge boost ahead of the event.’
Cllr Jones added she was overwhelmed by the support shown by the city.
‘We probably had about 1,000 boats in the Solent watching the racing, helicopters in the sky, the Red Arrows and the world’s media,’ she said.
‘It was an opportunity to showcase Portsmouth as a beautiful and stunning city and it did not disappoint.’
The competition begins today, with the Race Village opening from 11am and racing starting at 1.30pm.