Bermuda shines on spectacular day
The skies above Dockyard erupted in a cacophony of noise and colour this evening to herald in the beginning of the 35th America's Cup.
Thousands descended on the America's Cup Village to witness the long-awaited start of the global sailing spectacle.
The ceremony started with Oracle founder Larry Ellison hinting that if the United States team won they would return to the island.
“If we sail fast enough we are definitely going to come back,” he said.
Mr Ellison added: “I want to thank the people of Bermuda for making us feel so welcome on your beautiful island.
“We are thrilled to be here sailing in the most beautiful sailing venue in the world.”
Michael Dunkley hailed the work of Bermudians who had made the dream of hosting the America's Cup a reality.
The Premier added: “We will not disappoint you. This is our time to shine.
“We are going to have a wonderful six weeks and the world will never forget Bermuda.”
Mr Dunkley was joined on stage by Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, who told the crowd: “It is truly extraordinary to stand here today when 2½ years ago this land did not even exist.”
Following the official comments, the stage burst into music and dance provided by the Gombeys, the Royal Bermuda Regiment Band and a host of local artists.
The teams taking part in the 35th America's Cup were then presented to the crowd before the day culminated in a spectacular fireworks display.
The opening ceremony followed an action-packed day of racing in the Great Sound as well as an afternoon of entertainment provided by Wyclef Jean.
With close to 8,000 ticket holders turning out to welcome the sailing showpiece — an event on a scale never before seen on the island — the atmosphere throughout the day was positively buzzing.
Local comedian Nadanja Bailey had his moment in the sun introducing Wyclef — the singer songwriter who has written songs for the likes of Beyonce and Shakira. The former Fugees star took to the stage with his UK number one hit Ready or Not with a little free styling about meeting “the PM” [Mr Dunkley] and hanging out with Michael Douglas in his boat.
Businesses were straining to keep up with the demand with queues snaking out from vendors including J&B Wood Fired Pizza, Docksider and Devil's Isle.
Owner of J&B Wood Fired Pizza Anthony Jackson said his all Bermudian staff had been in full flow from 11.30am with no sign of things letting up. Dr Jackson told us: “It's been great for business.”
Bermudian senior June Simmons said she had never see an event of this magnitude in her lifetime here. “It's beautiful,” she beamed.
The racing itself was show-stopping although Land Rover BAR skipper Sir Ben Ainslie looked stressed out after his catamaran sustained a hole following a crash with SoftBank Team Japan.
There was something for everyone, in particular for the children. A dedicated kids zone teemed with youngsters and an educational hub taught them about sailing and conserving the environment.
It was an outstanding start to a series of events during which Bermuda will truly shine on the world stage.