Bermuda’s big day has arrived
The long-awaited day has finally arrived with as many as 10,000 people on land and on the water ready to witness the greatest sporting event hosted by the island.
A forecast of high winds and rain delayed proceedings yesterday, scuppering the first races and Opening Ceremony, but today it's all systems go — providing Mother Nature obliges.
Early yesterday it was confirmed that every ticket had been sold for today's activities, which include a ribbon cutting, roof wetting, a concert featuring Wyclef Jean and the belated Opening Ceremony — and, not least, a display of the fastest and most spectacular races in the history of sailing.
Bermudians celebrated in December 2014 when the America's Cup was awarded to the island, marking the first time that the Cup holders selected a venue outside their own country to defend the title, sparking an outcry from the likes of San Diego who had been favourites to host the event.
Yet in the three years since, Bermuda has been slowly but surely endorsed as the perfect venue, the Great Sound providing a natural and picturesque amphitheatre.
It has also boosted the construction business, increased tourism, lifted hotel and guesthouse bookings and left restaurant owners rubbing their hands in anticipation of a bumper summer.
Sir Russell Coutts, the America's Cup Event Authority chief executive, has predicted the 35th edition of the spectacle will be the most successful of any previous America's Cup.
And should he be right, and defenders Oracle repeat what they achieved in 2013 in San Francisco, Bermuda could again be picked as hosts.
Certainly the superstar sailors who will be on show over the next four weeks agree Bermuda has all ingredients to put on another showstopper. With thousands flocking to the America's Cup Village this evening, the same scene is expected as the event progresses.
America's Cup Bermuda, the chief organisers, are expecting an unprecedented 2,000 boats surrounding the racecourse, among them the most expensive megayachts in the world. Those on board will include the likes of tycoon Sir Richard Branson and Larry Ellison, the billionaire owner of Oracle.
Michael Douglas, the island's celebrated ambassador, will also be out and about. And there's speculation the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge could make an appearance, given their interest in the World Series racing in Portsmouth last year.
While the opening races today will serve as the main course, the day will begin with ribbon cutting at 11.30am, followed by a traditional Bermuda roof-wetting ceremony at 1pm.
Sir Russell said yesterday: “It is great that Saturday is sold out, and the weather is looking very good for Sunday and beyond, where a full schedule of races is planned.
“It is shaping up to be incredibly competitive on the water, with the best sailors in the world going head to head, and the America's Cup Village also looking magnificent.
“For the people that have missed out on securing tickets for Saturday, there should be opportunities to attend one of the days next week.”
People have been advised there will be no chance of buying tickets at the door if any one of the race days is sold out — and that's more than likely.
“On days where the event is not sold out, this option will be available, although online sales can happen quickly so it is always recommended to pre-purchase,” said an ACBDA statement.
Six men, six fields of dreams, one Cup
Oracle Team USA
Helmsman: Jimmy Spithill
Defender — previous wins in 2010, 2013
Golden Gate Yacht Club
Helmsman: Nathan Outteridge
Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet
Emirates Team New Zealand
Helmsman: Peter Burling
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Groupama Team France
Helmsman: Franck Cammas
Yacht Club de France
Land Rover BAR
Helmsman: Sir Ben Ainslie
Royal Yacht Squadron
SoftBank Team Japan
Helmsman: Dean Barker
Kansai Yacht Club