YOUR support is vital in achieving the dream of bringing the America’s Cup finals to Portsmouth.
With just 100 days to go until the return of the competition’s crunch qualifiers in the Solent, Olympic legend Sir Ben Ainslie is calling on the home crowd to pack out the shoreline in even greater numbers this summer as his sailing side seek to go on to win the prestigious contest next year – before setting their sights on bringing the elite finals to Portsmouth in 2021.
Speaking exclusively to The News, Land Rover BAR skipper Sir Ben says he needs the region’s supporters to spur his team on to glory so he can focus on his ‘vision’ to bring the grand stage of the competition back to Britain – insisting the Solent is the perfect place for it.
It comes after America’s Cup World Series boss Sir Keith Mills revealed his plans to bring more World Series-style events to Portsmouth beyond this year, while plans are being drawn up by his Team Origin event enterprise to create a UK stadium-style headquarters in the city.
Sir Ben said: ‘It’s really been my vision to bring the finals of the America’s Cup to Portsmouth.
‘I might have a battle with the Harbour Master, but with the harbour and its south westerly wind, and having that breeze as the finish line for the America’s Cup, it would be the perfect amphitheatre to stage it. That’s the vision. Now we have got to make that a reality and bring the cup home, and we need the people of this city to really get behind that. That’s what we want to achieve.
‘This summer will be massive for us. Like in any other sport, whether it be a football team or any other team, to race in front of your home crowd, it means you really want to try to do well for your supporters.’
Talking about Sir Keith’s plans for Portsmouth, Sir Ben said: ‘We obviously work very closely with Team Origin on the event side, and one of the key decisions in bringing the team to Portsmouth was that there would be a great event venue for either the America’s Cup World Series or the America’s Cup finals should we be in the position to win it.
‘We know the course area is fantastic, and to have future events will be fantastic, as it’s a natural amphitheatre along the shoreline to see the racing in such close proximity. This is really where we want to be. So I am delighted Team Origin is putting that in place as an event company and making the vision a reality here in Portsmouth.’
Meanwhile, World Series event bosses say this summer’s spectacle – from July 21 to 24 – will also see a Blades Display Team fly over the Solent during the occasion as part of a packed family entertainment schedule.
Four high-performance planes flown by former RAF fast-jet pilots will perform a routine on the Saturday that includes more than 30 manoeuvres and features plenty of close-crosses and heart-stopping dives.
The Blades join The Red Arrows, who are bringing their distinctive squadron of nine red Hawk jets on Friday, July 22. On the Sunday, it’s the turn of the Red Bull Matadors to wow the crowds, as they twist and turn at speeds of up to 250mph in a series of loops, dives and smoke displays.
For 2016, the America’s Cup regatta in Portsmouth will open on Thursday with a preview invitation day which focuses on youth engagement activities. But the temperature hots up on the Friday as the racing action gets under way. On the opening day, the six America’s Cup teams will compete in ‘Match Racing duels’ alongside the usual fleet races.
This offers the chance to watch the world’s best sailing teams racing one-on-one in close battles, with speeds reaching in excess of 40mph. The fleet racing kicks off on Saturday, followed by a double-points finale on Sunday as teams battle for qualifying points in the bid to take on the USA in the America’s Cup final in Bermuda in 2017.
There are plans to run three races per day, making for a fast and furious weekend of competition.
Battle for points hots up before race return
Sir Ben Ainslie says his team are fired up heading into this summer’s America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth.
But before that, Land Rover BAR will be keen to rack up the points at upcoming qualifying rounds in New York from May 7 to 8 and Chicago from June 10 to 12.
Sir Ben said: ‘We are going into a two-pronged attack on the America’s Cup.
‘We have got the America’s Cup World Series coming up in New York and then Chicago before Portsmouth.
‘That is the racing focus. Then the other side of it is the design technical development for the event race boat in December in Bermuda (for the finals). That is a key focus for the team. The World Series in which we really want to perform well in is the one in front of our home crowd in Portsmouth.
‘Like last year, we hopefully will get a great number of people out to support us out there, both on shore and on the water, and then we’ll focus our attentions on racing in front of a big crowd of spectators. Something like that doesn’t happen often.
‘It’s a very special opportunity. There is the potential for two or three events after Portsmouth, but in terms of the World Series, the points are adding up.
‘It’s starting to get that much more serious. As we get down to the conclusion of the series, teams are really going for those top points.’
Be part of the action
Spectators to this summer’s America’s Cup can join the action on land in a pay-to-enter race village.
That will be the home to a special Kids Zone, Tech Zone and Team Zone with lots of interactive activities for all ages, and the chance to learn more about the America’s Cup and the technology behind it.
Southsea Common will be open to all of the public; there’s no entry fee and spectators can bring food and drink to have while watching the racing. The daily schedule will see the teams dock out from Southsea seafront, with aerial displays before racing scheduled between 1.30pm and 3pm each day (with live television coverage on BT Sport).
Tickets start from £25 per person, with six to 15-year-olds half price and under-fives going free. New this year is the Sailors Lounge, an exclusive area with guest speakers giving insights into the competition which includes a grandstand seat to watch all the action.
For tickets, go to lvacwsportsmouth.com/tickets