PORTSMOUTH is in ‘pole position’ to host another ‘bigger’ round of America’s Cup action next summer.
With a week to go before Sir Ben Ainslie and the Land Rover BAR team begin a month of racing in Bermuda in the finals of the prestigious tournament, it has been unveiled that the city has been shortlisted as one of three UK locations for the tournament’s 2018-19 world series.
Phil Kennard, commercial manager at Land Rover BAR revealed to The News last night that a bid has been placed for the city to host one of the stages in the forthcoming series and that the team are confident America’s Cup racing will return to Southsea’s shores next summer.
Mr Kennard said: ‘We are hoping that the fact that we have had two successful events here in the Portsmouth in the past will help the bid.
‘The next series promises to be bigger and better as there could be maybe eight or nine teams involved in the action.
‘There is a lot of interest in the tournament and now more than ever more teams are looking to get involved.’
We have thrown our hat in the ring to bring it back here [to Portsmouth]. We are in pole positionAndy Hindley, chief finance officer at Land Rover BAR
Sir Ben is bidding to end 166 years of hurt through victory in Bermuda.
In the light of a Land Rover BAR win next month, the team would also be able to push for the city to host the finals of the tournament.
The team held a drop-in session with supporters at their Old Portsmouth base last night in which Andy Hindley, the team’s chief finance officer raised hopes for the cup’s return.
He told an audience of around 65 people: ‘The plan is that we will have a world series event back here in Portsmouth. The two events held here were the most successful the series had and we have thrown our hat in the ring to bring it back here. We are in pole position.’
The News previously reported earlier this year that plans were afoot to bring the event back to Portsmouth.
Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council said: ‘The idea of hosting another event in 2018 and potentially the finals in 2019 is a really exciting possibility and one that would bring tens of millions of pounds into the city. It is of course not guaranteed but hosting the event again would put this city on the international stage.’
GIANT SCREEN TO CHEER SIR BEN TO VICTORY
A GIANT screen will be installed in Gunwharf Quays to show the first three days of the racing action in Bermuda next weekend.
Fans of Sir Ben and the team will be able to pull up a deckchair and cheer Land Rover BAR from the comfort of Gunwharf Quays’ plaza over the course of the three days of qualifying action.
The screen has been made possible thanks to the team’s sponsorship deal with BT as UK coverage of the event will be shown by BT Sport throughout the course of the tournament.
Action starts on Friday at 9pm and on the Saturday and Sunday from 6pm.
HOW HAS SIR BEN AND THE TEAM DONE? WHAT AWAITS IN BERMUDA?
AFTER nearly two years of qualifying events featuring two action-packed and world-class displays of sailing in Portsmouth, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup is set to be decided off the coast of Hamilton in Bermuda.
A world series spanning the globe ahead of the final event began in Portsmouth Harbour in July 2015 where hundreds of thousands of people lined the Southsea shore to cheer on Sir ben to two victories.
Adverse weather led to the following two Portsmouth races being cancelled and after 20 rounds of racing in Gothenburg, Bermuda, Muscat, New York and Chicago, the series returned to the city for six nail-bating rounds last July.
Sir Ben’s team took home three wins out of the six races in front of a strong home crowd and after 12 more rounds of sailing in Toulon and Fukoka, the Portsmouth team won the world series.
Following the win, Sir Ben said: ‘Two-and-a-half-years ago we had absolutely nothing, so what we have achieved in building this team, the infrastructure and this performance, is something we should all be incredibly proud of.’
Land Rover BAR recorded four events over the series and their victory means that they take two vital points into the qualifiers as they bid to take Team Oracle USA’s crown.
A month of sailing all kicks off on Friday as a round robin tournament begins the final qualifiers. The five challengers Land Rover BAR, Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis Racing, Groupama Team France, Softbank Team Japan and the defender Team Oracle USA will compete in two round robins between Friday and June 3.
The top four challengers after the round robin will then advance to the best of nine semi-finals between June 4 and June 8.
This will lead to a best of nine finals between those left in the running between June 10 and June 12 and a challenger to Oracle will be revealed.
The challenger will then go head-to-head with Oracle for the America’s Cup in a best of 13 races held between June 17 and June 27.