IT will be one of the biggest events to ever grace Portsmouth.
As we start 2015, excitement is building to when the eyes of the world will be on the city as an anticipated 160,000 spectators come to witness the spectacle that is the America’s Cup World Series.
The sailing contest will feature Olympic hero Sir Ben Ainslie and his Portsmouth-based Great Britain team as they seek to storm through the qualifiers and clinch victory in the cup’s finals in 2017.
The area will be bursting with pride as the contest forms part of a four-day family festival from July 23 to 26, providing a huge boost to the Portsmouth area.
From world-class yacht races in the Solent, sailing exhibitions and concerts on Southsea Common, to competition demonstrations at Portsmouth dockyard, the city will come alive and celebrate its proud maritime heritage.
And it is anticipated Portsmouth’s America’s Cup qualifiers, which will be coming back to the city in 2016, will pump more than £120m into the local economy, providing a massive boost to shops, hotels, bars and restaurants.
Portsmouth’s seafront manager David Evans said the ‘extraordinary’ occasion will be one of the greatest attractions the city has ever held and will be up there with 2005’s Trafalgar 200 celebrations.
‘It will be massive, it will be one of the biggest events we have held here in Portsmouth,’ said Mr Evans.
‘It will also be one of the most extraordinary. This is the grand prix of sailing.
Leslie Greenhalgh, bid director for Team Origin, the organisers of the Portsmouth world series, said: ‘People can expect to be entertained – we want to make it relevant to families who live in Portsmouth who are not massive sailing fans and sailors who want to be close to the action. We want there to be something for everyone.’
Sir Ben’s sailing headquarters at The Camber in Old Portsmouth will also be open for the first time to the public.
Jonathan Goring, team base project director for Ben Ainslie Racing, said the world series will leave a huge legacy in Portsmouth as it will inspire the next generation of sailors and bring about a surge in the city’s economy.
‘This is the best bit of news the city has had for a long time,’ he said.
‘It will be an inspiration to the people of the city – in terms of the event itself and the legacy it will leave behind.’
Minister for Portsmouth Matthew Hancock said: ‘This is going to be fantastic for the city, it is incredibly uplifting and forward thinking.
‘It is a chance for the whole city to get behind Sir Ben and celebrate an incredible occasion.’
Colin Wilding, centre director for Gunwharf Quays, said everyone was pulling together to ensure it is a major success.
‘The global exposure of the event will undoubtedly increase tourism, not just for the period of the event itself but for the whole year,’ he said.
‘We are working with the team, dockyard, Wightlink and the Spinnaker Tower to make sure the whole of the waterfront is together to ensure Portsmouth looks spectacular and that everything flows and works in harmony.’
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