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America’s Cup will be the best yet — Coutts

Sir Russell Coutts

Next year’s America’s Cup is building up to be the best in the history of the sailing event, according to Sir Russell Coutts.

The CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority told The Royal Gazette that preparations for next summer’s sporting spectacle were well ahead of schedule.

He also hailed the success of the Endeavour Programme and the community outreach project associated with the America’s Cup.

“We have had fantastic reports back from the parents,” Sir Russell said.

“Children with no previous experience on the water have really made the most of it and it has helped build their character and confidence. Oracle have also developed a project within the programme to take some old Optis that were destined for the rubbish tip, restore them and allow these children to continue to develop their love of sailing.

“The community outreach has gone incredibly well with some great results. We will look to refine the educational and practical side of this programme in the coming months and improve the system. I’m really excited about that.

“The programme has worked better in Bermuda than ever before; we have put more focus on it this time and have a team of highly motivated teachers. We have got the right combination.”

Sir Russell maintained that the legacy of the America’s Cup after the event remained of critical importance to the organisers.

He said he hoped stakeholders would safeguard the Endeavour Programme for the next decade.

“The legacy side of the America’s Cup is critical,” he added. “From day one we have worked to make the outreach side of this event sustainable beyond 2017.

“The industry support we have received has been vital in ensuring this and we have made great progress there. I want to see this programme fully funded for the next decade after the event.

“We are not there yet, but we are getting there. I want to see businesses take that next step and I think they will. They have seen the results of the contribution they have made.”

Construction work on the South Basin landfill project where the America’s Cup village will be based continues apace and ahead of schedule, while superyacht berths for the event have almost reached capacity.

The latest news comes as the Bermuda Tourism Authority urged those interested in travelling to the island for the event to make arrangements before it was too late.

“We are in a great position and well ahead of schedule,” said Sir Russell. “The South Basin project for example is two-and-a-half months ahead of schedule. I can’t think of anywhere else where this would happen.

“Another example is the superyacht berths; ACEA is managing 50 berths at Dockyard, Front Street and the Hamilton Princess, and 48 berths are filled and six boats are vying for the last two.

“We have nine J-Class boats coming now, which is the most we have ever had. These are the old traditional America’s Cup boats, and will create a great fusion of new and old. I don’t think people have any idea of the scale of that.

“I don’t think there is any doubt it will be the best America’s Cup yet. There will be challenges, obviously accommodation is limited, but it is going to be all about delivering quality over quantity and I have no doubt we will do this.”

Looking ahead to the racing, Sir Russell said it was almost impossible to choose a winner, but he hinted that an Oracle win could mean the event staying in Bermuda.

“From a sporting perspective it is very exciting too,” he said. “Usually there are just two or three teams with a chance of winning it, this time I believe there is at least five teams that have a real chance.

“I would not be able to pick a winner. If Oracle win there is a high chance that the America’s Cup will stay here, so there’s plenty for Bermudians to cheer for.”