Watch: Red Arrows soar over Southsea

Ricardo Rodriguez, seven, on the minitrain Picture: Habibur Rahman (170915-97)

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The Red Arrows soared over Southsea today as crowds thronged to the America’s Cup extravaganza

The crack RAF display team put on a performance to crowds across Southsea Common and the Race Village event arenas at midday.

Today is a practice race day, while Saturday and Sunday will see teams compete for points. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend a prize-giving ceremony on Sunday.

Hundreds of visitors began pouring into the America’s Cup Race Village this morning as excitement built ahead of today’s racing action and Red Arrows display.

Red Arrows picture gallery here

Families say they can’t wait to see Sir Ben Ainslie and his British side in action and are delighted the sun is out.

Mark Watts, 53, has turned out for the spectacle with his parents, Ted and Iris Watts.

Mark said: ‘We are sailors and enjoy sailing. This the Formula One of sailing; this is about as exciting as it gets. This is probably the best chance we’ve ever had since the cup started to win. Sir Ben is in an Olympic class of sailing and he has a high-tech team behind him.’

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Lady Lord Mayoress Leza Tremorin said she was thrilled the race was back in Portsmouth.

‘I’m very, very excited,’ she told The News.

‘It’s a wonderful thing for Portsmouth and I think it’s fantastic that the Common is open this year.

‘I’ve been going around Portsmouth and everybody is talking about. There’s a lot of excitement in the city for the America’s Cup.

‘Everywhere we have gone it’s all people have been talking about.

‘The whole weekend is just going to be brilliant. It’s going to put Portsmouth on the map.’

Dr Donna Vontunk was one of the first people to enter the Race Village when the gates opened at 11am this morning.

The 45-year-old has traveled all the way from her home in Melbourne, Australia, to the event and is an avid fan of British Olympic Hero Ben Ainslie.

‘I came last year and it was a wash-out,’ explained the doctor.

‘But this year is looking like it’s going to be great.

‘I’m very excited. I’ve followed the race since I was 12 when Australia got the cup in 1983.

‘I watched Ben Ainslie from about 2000 in the Olympics and he was incredible.

‘He is really the sailor to beat this year.

‘I’m really looking forward to see him win.’

She added: ‘Portsmouth has done a really good job at hosting the event. It’s going to be great.’

The Red Arrows display planned at last year’s Portsmouth America’s Cup World Series were forced to cancel at the last minute their flypast due to torrential weather.

Despite reports the team had taken off from Farnborough, the cancellation confirmation came just as the display should have started.

Picture Gallery: Crowds flock to site