City unlikely to see America's Cup regatta next time round
PORTSMOUTH might miss out on hosting a regatta during the next America's Cup series, Sir Ben Ainslie has admitted.
In an exclusive interview with The News, the five-time Olympian and Land Rover BAR team principal said it was ‘not the intention’ of competition organisers to hold an event in the city over the next few years.
Portsmouth hosted two regattas during the last America’s Cup World Series, in July 2015 and a year later in July 2016.
Decisions on venues for the next series, to be held in 2019 and 2020, will be made by the challenger – Circolo della Vela Sicilia from Italy – and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron as the defender.
Asked whether the idea of holding an event in Portsmouth had been discussed, Sir Ben said: ‘We haven’t had any formal discussions with challenger of record or defender.
‘It’s something obviously we would be very keen on, and I hope Portsmouth would be very keen.
‘The previous World Series events here were a huge success, but currently it is my understanding that it is not the intention of the challenger of record or defender to come to Portsmouth.
‘It is something we will keep consulting with them on.
‘Obviously from our perspective we would love to have an event here, but unfortunately it’s not our decision.’
He added that the challenger and defender were holding ‘all the cards’ in terms of deciding how the event is organised.
More than £33 million worth of economic benefits were brought to the city thanks to Sir Ben’s sailing team and the America’s Cup regattas, a report claimed last year.
Organisers said more than 130,000 watched the sailing action in Southsea over the weekend in July last year.
Despite the possiiblity of Portsmouth being without a regatta, Sir Ben reiterated his desire to keep the Land Rover BAR team in the city for years to come.
He said: ‘We made a commitment to the maritime industry here in Portsmouth and we stand by that.
‘We are incredibly grateful to the people of Portsmouth for their support.’
Councillor Linda Symes, Portsmouth City Council’s lead member for culture, leisure and sport, said it would be ‘a shame’ if Portsmouth did not host a regatta during the next World Series.
She added: ‘I think Ben Ainslie is right to say what he said. I would be very surprised if we were to have any World Series events like that in the near future.’