Prominent America’s Cup role for St George’s
America’s Cup chiefs will work with the Corporation of St George ensure the Olde Towne does not miss out on the opportunities provided by the 2017 sailing spectacle.
Event organisers, who met this week in Bermuda, are looking at the possibility of holding a race for the predicted influx of visiting yachts in the East End.
They will also explore the potential of basing a cruise ship in St George’s for the event and hosting the tall ships during the sports extravangaza, according to Mike Winfield, chief executive of America’s Cup Bermuda (ACBDA).
Yesterday at a question-and-answer session at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Mr Winfield was joined by Sir Russell Coutts, director of the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) to provide an update on progress.
Asked what could be done in order to ensure St George’s gets a slice of the action, Sir Russell said: “As an organisation we have discussed this.
“One of the best features of the America’s Cup in 2017 will be the huge number of boats that will come to the Island to be a part of the occasion.
“Maybe we will organise a race for some of these boats that goes to other parts of the Island and that is one of the reasons I have visited St George’s on this trip.
“I can imagine doing stuff like that and opening up the event. We could plan things like this with the support of local communities and make it happen and make it fun.”
Mr Winfield said that St George’s was a “natural place” for spectators to gather when racing was not taking place.
“We have also been in talks with the Corporation of St George and we will be meeting in the near future,” he said.
“We are looking at the possibility of the tall ships being in Bermuda for the America’s Cup and we need to consider how does this impact St George’s.
“There is also the possibility of a cruise ship being based in St George’s.”
Meanwhile, Sir Russell said he was greatly impressed by the progress that had already been made at the other end of the Island, where the teams will be based for the America’s Cup.
“There has been more progress than what I expected, which is a good thing,” said the New Zealander, who has won the America’s Cup five times.
“I certainly have no doubt that the Island will get the facilities ready on time, and even over-deliver in terms of having these facilities available at an early stage.
“I have been impressed with the work that has been done, but it’s the start of the process. Artemis should be here by the end of May, which will mean that there will be two full teams operating out of Bermuda.”
Sir Russell said that the decision to give NBC the television rights for the event was good news for the America’s Cup as well as Bermuda.
He also revealed that a decision over British and European television rights was being considered and would be made in the coming weeks.
He maintained that the event could be a “real stimulus for youth sailing programmes in Bermuda”, adding: “Our big ambition is to develop that programme throughout the community, exposing the opportunities to young people.
“We hope to get that started in the middle of this year and expand it over the next two-and-a-half years.”
Sir Russell confirmed that some of the teams have already started to relocate and find accommodation in Bermuda, and he revealed that Oracle Team USA would be sailing in Bermuda by the end of April or the beginning of May. He added: “Artemis Racing will be following sometime after, so pretty soon we will see the foiling catamarans on the Great Sound.
“Preparations for the World Series in October are also already well under way.
“The event organisation people are in the process of relocating. I lead that organisation and we hope to be operational by early March. The bulk of the staff will relocate here in March.
“Exciting times are ahead. It will soon be pretty obvious for everyone to see what they can expect in 2017.”