Legacy of the Americas Cup
I’ll be honest, I had grave reservations about Bermuda hosting the 35th Americas Cup. I often have reservations about Bermuda hosting anything, and normally with good reason. Leading up to the first weekend we joked at work that the concrete at the village would still be wet, the ferry’s would go on strike and the food vendors would shut for lunch.
But I couldn’t have been more wrong, Bermuda not only carried off hosting the Americas Cup, they carried it high, and probably head and shoulders higher than any host had carried it before.
There will always be negativity, and sure, the Bermudian government used a lot of financial incentives in getting the tournament and specifically defenders Team Oracle here in the first place, but the overriding feeling around the island during the 6 weeks of competition was one of excitement and pride.
The America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) oversaw events and they are not in the business of letting it flop, but still Bermuda had to stand up and be counted, with the added pressure of having the rest of the world watch us. And what the world saw was not an unmitigated disaster but a country that not only proved it can host an event of the magnitude of the Americas Cup, but also one that is stunningly beautiful. Every camera angle, every photo was like a like a look into a destination that should appear on everyone’s bucket list.
What is it that Mark Twain said? Oh yes “You go to heaven if you want to, I’d rather stay right here in Bermuda.”
The Great Sound was truly a wonderful natural amphitheater for the racing, described by the crews as perfect for sailing. We may have wished that the final days had a bit more of a levelling breeze to allow Team Oracle to get closer to their Kiwi rivals, but over the 6 weeks the mixture of the weather conditions, that us that live here are used to, provided some really exciting competition.
It wasn’t just about the world’s best sailors and the fastest yachts ever seen. The Red Bull Youth Americas Cup, won by Peter Burling last time, showcased tomorrow’s talent and the J Class and the Superyacht Regatta’s were excellent side shows to the main event. Then the iconic Tall Ships for the time they were here were stunningly beautiful to witness.
The AC Village was a masterpiece. Built on 10 acres of reclaimed land it would not have looked out of place at any of the world’s iconic sporting events and everyone I spoke to that had been to other Americas Cup’s, or qualifying events in other locations said that Bermuda was superior in everyway. Yes there were queues for the food and it was hot, but it was also atmospheric and family friendly. The warmth of the Bermudians mixing with those visiting from abroad created a dynamic centerpiece to the event.
Frankly the Grandstand could have been sold out twice over as could other spectator zones, and I don’t have any figures but easily at a low many thousands were still in the Village on any given day including many hundreds of foreign visitors.
The often missing Bermuda infrastructure worked and showed what can be achieved with initiation and investment. Things worked, stuff happened and the amount of people that made the pilgrimage to Dockyard for the racing and post-race entertainment from the rest of the island demonstrated that people that live here would continue to use the venue if it was available. Unfortunately the elegant Club AC is being boxed up and shipped to South Korea for the Winter Olympics, but what a special place that would be for Bermudian residents if it remained.
As the hangover of the Americas Cup starts to kick in with the impending Bermuda election making us all want to reach for the aspirin, the legacy of AC35 will become a tug of war between adults who act like spoilt children and are mostly only about self interest. But for the rest of us that call Bermuda home the Americas Cup will long live in the memory, and give us confidence and aspirations that this idyllic little place can host other world sporting events in the future, especially when called on by the world’s greatest sailors and their incredible machines.