Portsmouth’s pride shone bright as city embraced the America’s Cup

The Duchess of Cambridge presents the Portsmouth Victory Trophy to Ben Ainslie, skipper of Britain's Land Rover backed BAR (Ben Ainslie Racing)  team,
The Duchess of Cambridge presents the Portsmouth Victory Trophy to Ben Ainslie, skipper of Britain's Land Rover backed BAR (Ben Ainslie Racing) team,
The replaced toll gate after the original was shattered by the mare.''The replaced toll gate in 1915 after the original was leapt over by the runaway mare with the carriage she was pulling smashing it to pieces. Picture: Ralph Cousins.

NOSTALGIA: Frightened mare smashes toll gate on escape bid to Havant

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WHAT an incredible four days it was as the region burst with pride and showed its support for the America’s Cup.

Sailing legend Sir Ben Ainslie put out a rallying call to the public to get behind his Portsmouth-based team during the first leg of the event’s qualifiers – and they responded in emphatic fashion.

Whether it poured with rain or the sun shone on Southsea Common, tens of thousands of patriotic spectators came to roar on Sir Ben’s Land Rover BAR team and enjoy a programme of family-packed fun.

And it was mission accomplished as the Brits, backed by a sea of crowds lining the seafront, were inspired to a stunning regatta victory.

For those in attendance on Saturday, it was a spectacle like no other, and it was all topped off with a dazzling music concert with international stars, which is sure to have put the city firmly on the global stage.

Images of Portsmouth were projected around the world, showing millions of people unfamiliar with our city what a great place it is and why it is the premier destination on the south coast for major events.

Portsmouth’s America’s Cup World Series wasn’t short of its mishaps, however, as torrential weather forced a number of air and sea displays and yesterday’s competitive racing and events programme to be abandoned.

It required organisers to do some last-minute changes to ensure the occasion continued to run smoothly. But that didn’t dampen the spirits of the public who did their best to come along regardless, eager to see Sir Ben tear it up in the Solent once more.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge came to champion the city and celebrate what is being achieved by Sir Ben and his team – and reward the rest of the World Series challengers.

But the crowning memory people will surely have of Portsmouth is the moment it embraced the BAR team, bidding to win the America’s Cup for Britain for the first time, just 24 hours earlier. The Olympian himself even described it as the ‘defining moment of his career’ – what better endorsement could a city get?

That is what will inspire people, businesses and potential investors to come back to Portsmouth in 2016 when it hosts a leg of the World Series once more – when we are sure to deliver the goods once again.

For comprensive coverage of the four-day America’s Cup event in Portsmouth go to americascup.portsmouth.co.uk

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