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Americas Cup awarded to Bermuda

The Americas Cup, the world’s oldest competitive sporting trophy and pre-eminent sailing event was today awarded to Bermuda for the 2017 series.

What this means for the island in terms of economy, tourism and global media spotlight is immeasurable. For the Bermuda tourism industry hosting the Americas Cup will be a game changer with visitors running into tens of thousands, effectively doubling the size of the population for almost a month.

It is hoped that the Americas Cup will create thousands of jobs and inject millions of dollars into Bermuda’s economy, which has struggled to revive itself after the 2009 downtown. New and improved hotels, a competition ‘village,’ competitor accommodations, a media centre are all needed plus better island transport links to improve an ancient and lethargic infrastructure. A tardy wireless and internet system also needs overhauling.

Hamilton’s Great Sound is expected to be the main scene of the racing with a proposed America’s Cup Village at the Royal Naval Dockyard, but the whole island where open water is visible from almost everywhere, cannot fail to feel involved one of the planet’s most prestigious sporting competitions.

Described to me like being Formula One on water, The Americas Cup takes place every four years and in 2013 was held in San Francisco. The west coast city was said to have made an estimated $346 million for hosting the event that more than 700,000 spectators watched. That number one would imagine was made up mostly of American west coast sailing fans but it would be interesting to know how many spectators actually made the journey to get there as that would be a better barometer of how many would be expected here. Officials also said that 2,000 new jobs were created in San Francisco.

The Americas Cup venue is always chosen by the defending champions, who have been for the last two occasions, Oracle Team USA, which is owned and funded by Larry Ellison.

Ellison is the founder of Oracle and the fifth-wealthiest person in the world, and selecting Bermuda would have been Ellison and his team’s decision.

Bermuda was chosen over San Diego, who have already hosted the trophy three times. It has also been in Australia, New Zealand, Spain and good old Isle of Wight, where it all started in 1851.

Six teams plan to complete for the 35th America’s Cup Bermuda. Artemis Racing from Sweden, Ben Ainslie Racing from Great Britain, Emirates Team from New Zealand, Luna Rossa Challenge from Italy, Team France and of course the defenders Larry Ellison’s Team Oracle USA.

As a precursor to the 2017 main event next October, Bermuda will also host a World Series event. In 2016 early Americas Cup bidder Chicago will host a summer sailing regatta as will Portsmouth to the lead up to June 2017 Bermuda.

This is big news in Bermuda today and with my work windows open because we have no air-conditioning, the cheering when the decision was announced was heard all the way down Front Street. In fact the government have already announced a motorcade to accompany officials who fly back from New York with the actual cup tomorrow, driving past schools and then followed by a street party and fireworks on Front Street.

Bermuda’s bid Americas Cup video.

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