Shiver me timbers. Sorry that’s a pirate term, but still…. I have been very lucky to attend a lot of the biggest sporting events, and I have to tell you that the opening day of the 35th Americas Cup will join the list of very memorable days out, and up there with the Masters, The Open, Ashes test matches, Wimbledon and Olympic events.
The Americas Cup village, built on land that wasn’t even there a year ago, was immaculate and beautifully presented. More than 10,000 people, a sixth of the island’s population, watched the first day’s sail boat racing from various viewpoints and the excitement was plain to see and hear. In Bermuda election year I just wish the politicians would stop trying to score points off each other, and accept that this little island is going to experience something very special and create memories long lasting over these next 6 weeks.
I went with some mates and we had seats in the grandstand and the views were terrific as was the family atmosphere. The many differing options for viewing all looked fun and celebratory as we walked around the village. Perhaps only the pedestrian-paced serving at the drink and food outlets was the only complaint.
After the racing Wyclef Jean did a very upstanding job of raising the noise levels performing for about an hour and a half, which left time for some Red Bull sky jumpers and then the opening ceremony with a range of local acts, usual dignitaries and speeches and ending with fireworks.
As for the racing, let’s be honest from a novice’s point of view, just like F1, what we really want to see is overtaking, nudges and collisions, and we saw all of that yesterday as the six boats each raced twice on the 20 minute course, where speeds reached up to 50 knots. Only Groupama Team France looked off the pace, but as I write this they have just beaten the heavily fancied Artemis in the first race of today.
By the end of the first day of racing Team Oracle USA came out top as the only boat that won both of their races and they share top spot in the table with Britain’s Land Rover BAR, who carried points over from the AC World Series event. Team Oracle incidentially have a bye into the final as defenders of the Cup, and will qualify anyway. The lowest scoring team come next weekend after 10 races each will be sent home.
However the biggest news of the day belonged to Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR team as they crashed into (video) the SoftBank Japan boat before the starting line of the day’s last race. The British boat was left with a gaping hole in it’s port hull, which was expected to take every hour of all night to repair. The Japanese crew was left with bumps and bruises as Ainslie’s boat rolled over the top of it. Oh how the crowd cheered….