‘Make it a month to remember’

  • Sir Russell Coutts

    Sir Russell Coutts

Sir Russell Coutts anticipates Bermuda getting swept away in the feel-good factor of the America’s Cup and has urged the island to “make it a month to remember”.

As the countdown enters the final week, Sir Russell — CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority — believes there is a palpable feeling of excitement in the air. The five-times winner of the “Auld Mug” has been overwhelmed by the public buy-in and expects people to be amazed when they finally witness the racing machines in full flight in the Great Sound.

“I think a few people don’t understand just what it’s going to be like; it’s going to be fantastic,” Sir Russell told The Royal Gazette.

“I hope people take time to enjoy the moment, the feel-good factor of hosting such an event, because there’s a lot to be proud of with this island. It’s a magical place and this event will really showcase that.

“I’ve been super-impressed with the attitude of the people and they haven’t even seen the event yet!”

Sir Russell said the race for the oldest trophy in international sport was building up to be the best in the history of the sailing event.

He has also described the America’s Cup Village, built on the South Basin of the historic Royal Naval Dockyard, as a world-class facility and the most impressive he had seen.

“I think there’s a real chance this will be the best America’s Cup ever; I certainly don’t say that flippantly,” Sir Russell said.

“It’s certainly the best event facility there’s been in the America’s Cup, that’s for sure.

“When people finally get to Dockyard I think they will be incredibly proud and impressed.”

As well as re-establishing Bermuda as a leading sailing destination, Sir Russell believes the event can have the desired “game-changer” effect for tourism, with the island painting a picturesque backdrop for both visitors and television viewers.

“It’s not only the tourists who are going to come here, discover Bermuda and come back, you’ve also got the boating community,” Sir Russell said.

“Bermuda had been forgotten about as a host of major sailing events and it’s pretty obvious that’s going to be rediscovered.

“There will be other events here post-America’s Cup.

“A few yachts have started to arrive and there will be a lot more in the next week, and that in itself will provide quite a spectacle.

“The television images are also going to be spectacular and that will showcase Bermuda probably better than anything. I know the foreign press have already been blown away and who wouldn’t be?”

With several ferries dedicated to the America’s Cup to reduce the volume of traffic and possible congestion in the West End, Sir Russell is confident the local infrastructure can more than handle hosting such a major event.

“The whole water experience, going across to the venue by the ferries, will be fantastic,” said the New Zealander.

“It’s not unique; there are other countries in the world that have those services, but what is unique is the landscape and the architecture, the buildings going out, the islands, the colour of the water.”

While the America’s Cup has undeniable worldwide appeal, Sir Russell said what had been important for the organisers, the teams and sailors to embrace was the island’s culture and for it be reflected in the event.

The opening ceremony next Friday will be heavily Bermudian-flavoured, Sir Russell said, with live performers, fireworks and Red Bull skydivers.

“Opening night is going to be very Bermudian themed and that will be great for Bermudians to see and for the rest of the world to see,” he added.

“It will be a nice environment, a fun environment, and I know Bermudians like to enjoy themselves when they get in an environment like that. It will be a great festival both onshore and on the water.

“Overall, I have a high degree of confidence that this event will be executed to a really, really high level.”

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Published May 19, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated May 19, 2017 at 6:57 am)

‘Make it a month to remember’

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