Christian Burgess embraced the community culture surrounding Pompey as he took to the water to welcome the second instalment of America’s Cup racing to the city.
The Blues defender and keen sports fan traded shinpads for sunglasses as he kitted himself out in the black of Emirates Team New Zealand to sample the waves ahead of tomorrow’s return to World Series action.
Burgess’ allegiances, however, remain with home favourite Land Rover BAR, who are based in Old Portsmouth.
And the 24-year-old, who sampled last year’s impressive action from the shoreline, is happy to be mingling with his fellow Old Portsmouthians once again.
He said: ‘It is brilliant to have something of this magnitude in Portsmouth.
‘We are a massive football city but at the same time the America’s Cup is great to experience.
‘I came down and watched it last year and it was exciting stuff.
‘It creates a great atmosphere around Portsmouth.
‘I live in Old Portsmouth and all of the local residents are excited about it and getting involved.
‘It is the talk of the community really.’
Not content with the role of interested spectator, Burgess accepted the invitation from World Series leaders Emirates Team New Zealand to test the waves himself yesterday.
It proved to be an enjoyable experience, although his loyalty to Portsmouth’s BAR team – who won last year’s event on home waters – remained intact.
‘I enjoyed going out on the boat – that was a great opportunity,’ he said.
’I have been on small boats before but nothing like this.
‘It was great to experience the speed of a racing boat.
‘I am obviously rooting for Ben Ainslie Racing, though.’
Burgess, who signed for Pompey last summer from Peterborough, has now lived in the city for a year.
And with the weather set for more sunshine this weekend, life on the south coast is proving kind to the former Middlesbrough man.
‘Living in Portsmouth is amazing, especially with the weather we have had this week – we have been really lucky,’ added Burgess.
‘Last year I experienced this a little bit but hadn’t really found my feet at the time, I had only just moved down here.
‘Now I know where I am and a lot more about Portsmouth.
‘It’s great to be a part of it – it is a great place.’
– JEFF MARSHMAN