PORTSMOUTH will stage the first America’s Cup World Series this summer after the Italian leg of the qualifiers was cancelled.
The sailing spectacle featuring Olympic sailing hero Sir Ben Ainslie was originally scheduled to kick off in Cagliari, Italy, from June 5 to 7.
But the event has now been pulled after the Italian America’s Cup team pulled out, meaning the qualifiers taking place in Portsmouth between July 23 to 26 will mark the start of the world series.
Team Luna Rossa will not take part after they disagreed with the new size of the sailing boats agreed upon by the majority of the other entrants.
It was decided a smaller 48ft boat would be used for the competition, instead of a previously planned 62ft design, in order to keep costs down.
Team Origin, the organisers, said the announcement will bring ‘added attention’ and both increased ‘local and global profile’ to Portsmouth and the UK for what promises to be a thrilling spectacle.
Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘There are 10 qualifier races ahead of the America’s Cup in 2017, and Portsmouth is to hold two of the 10.
‘And now, not only are we holding two of the 10, we are hosting the first one, which makes our event even more prestigious, will bring more people to the city and will bring an even bigger boost to the economy.’
Patrizio Bertelli, team principal of Team Luna Rossa, said: ‘I want to thank the whole team for its hard work during this past year. Regretfully, this effort has been frustrated by this manoeuvre that is unprecedented in the history of the America’s Cup.
‘However, in sports, as in life, one cannot always go for compromise, after compromise, after compromise - sometimes it is necessary to make decisions that are painful but must be clear cut, as only these can make everybody aware of the drifts of the system.’