Hopes raised Portsmouth could see 'one-off' America's Cup race in the Solent

HOPES have been raised a one-off America’s Cup race could take place in the Solent.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 7:00 am

The world’s oldest sporting event was due to return to Portsmouth last year, but these plans were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, teams took part in the Challenger Series in New Zealand at the start of this year.

Sir Ben Ainslie’s Ineos Team UK, based in Old Portsmouth, progressed to the challenger final but fell to the Italian Luna Rossa outfit.

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Crowds flock to the 2016 America’s Cup World Series event in Southsea

National media in both the UK and New Zealand have reported a one-off race between Sir Ben’s team and Team New Zealand could take place around the Isle of Wight.

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When approached by The News, a member of Ineos Team UK said more information will come to light when things become ‘concrete’.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald-Vernon Jackson, said it would be ‘hugely exciting’ if it were to happen.

Sir Ben Ainslie, captain of Ineos Team UK. Picture: Harry Kenney-Herbert

He said: ‘It would certainly be great news to have the America’s Cup back here, even if it’s a very different sort of race.

‘People love having the cup take place here, and even though it might not be possible to see them up close as they race around the island, it would still be hugely exciting to have some action for spectators.

‘I imagine this would be a bit further down the road but amazing potential news for the city.’

The plan to race around the Isle of Wight dates back to the inaugural America’s Cup race, back in 1851.

Sailors raced around the island for the very first tournament, won by the New York Yacht Club.

Previously, Portsmouth hosted the America’s Cup World Series in 2015 and 2016, which saw 250,000 spectators flock to the waterfront to watch the action.

The events brought in a colossal £38.7m for the city.

Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said: ‘It would be a fantastic boost to our city and the wider region to host an America’s Cup here.

‘I know the whole city will be right behind Sir Ben and his team and I look forward to confirmation of further details on what would be an incredible spectacle for our city and should benefit our communities.’

The AWCS is a trophy awarded to the winner of races between two sailing yachts.

One yacht, known as the defender, represents the yacht club that currently holds the America's Cup and the second yacht, known as the challenger, represents the yacht club that is challenging for the cup.

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