PORTSMOUTH’s passion shone bright and captured the nation’s attention.
An outpouring of support for British sailing challengers Land Rover BAR and Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie spurred on the elite crew to a sensational World Series regatta victory that will be talked about for years to come.
The almighty roar of the home crowd over the weekend, blessed with gorgeous sunshine and smooth race conditions, saw athlete Sir Ben rise to the occasion.
His team now sit top of the America’s Cup regattas board – and is a step closer to the cup’s finals next year in Bermuda.
Sir Ben’s victory was the perfect way of saying ‘thank you’ to Portsmouth for all of its support since he chose the city as his home.
And the people should feel proud for turning out in their thousands along the shore and becoming the deciding factor.
Whether spectators viewed the action from the common, ticketed Race Village arena or historic Southsea Castle, people were in jubilant mood – and passionate about Sir Ben’s mission to win.
Memories of torrential weather blighting last year’s Portsmouth America’s Cup World Series were swept aside as the sun beamed down on Southsea Common and the Race Village arenas on Saturday – the first day of competitive racing.
And while clouds moved in yesterday, the rain held off and people packed the Solent shoreline.
The aerial displays proved to be a huge crowd puller, as the Red Arrows once again showcased why they are the world’s greatest aerial performers.
Plus the spectacle got the royal seal of approval, with Kate and Will, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, watching the action from the water.
And they got to tour Land Rover BAR’s headquarters and learn more about what the sailing enterprise is achieving in Portsmouth.
Last year, the royal couple’s visit for the occasion was cut short due to howling gales and torrential rain.
But this time, they got to see Portsmouth in all its glory, and got to meet the 1851 Trust, which is working with youngsters to inspire a new generation of sailors.
And as the dust settles on the momentous occasion, it’s exciting to look ahead to the future benefits that could come Portsmouth’s way.
The fact the British conquered the cup regatta in their home waters will certainly be talked about across the globe.
The time is now surely right for investors, developers and business leaders to make their mark in Portsmouth. The cup could be the catalyst for major regeneration.
And of course it is incredibly exciting to think Sir Ben now has an even greater chance of taking his side all of the way and seizing the America’s Cup crown from US rivals, Oracle Team USA, which would be the first time in 165 years the ‘Auld Mug’ has returned to Britain.
The prospect of the finals then being staged in Portsmouth in 2021 is phenomenal; the benefits huge.
Event organisers Team Origin must be congratulated for turning things around after the problems with last year’s event.
They listened to the public, put on a more streamlined, simpler World Series with one clear message; to help Sir Ben in his quest to bring the cup home.
And there’s no denying the public heard and answered the call in emphatic fashion.