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‘Bermuda shines brightly’

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Jubilation at victory: Emirates Team New Zealand celebrate with the America’s Cup(Photograph by Ricardo Pinto/ACEA)

Bermuda has shown its worth with the hosting of the America’s Cup, Michael Dunkley told The Royal Gazette after racing came to its historic close.

“Bermuda shines brightly on the world stage,” the Premier said. “I don’t think we could be more pleased.”

The team members for the 35th America’s Cup “raved about Bermuda and the sailing conditions”, Mr Dunkley said, while the racing and onshore experience “shows we can do it when we pull together — the chance is now ours to do something with it”.

“It’s up to us to marshall our resources and continue the progress. We have proven it. We can keep doing it. I’m so proud of all of Bermuda and the way we came together. We should be very comforted by what we have done; it puts us in a great position, tomorrow and beyond.”

The Premier thanked Oracle Team USA for their confidence in the island, adding: “You have made great friends in Bermuda, and will always have your friends here.”

Oracle were gracious in defeat — but the final day belonged to Emirates Team New Zealand and their overjoyed supporters.

Taking the stage with Mr Dunkley at the presentation of the coveted trophy, Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, called the experience “tremendous”.

“There is no second place in the America’s Cup, but what’s very clear is that Bermuda came out the winner.

“Sir Russell Coutts said that Bermuda has delivered, and for me the most exciting part is just to see how well Bermuda has performed.”

Euphoria and anxiety hung over the America’s Cup Village in equal measures as a sea of American and New Zealand flags flourished in anticipation of the series clincher.

Racing got under way shortly after 2pm, with Emirates Team New Zealand taking the lead to the jubilation of supporters — and Oracle Team USA throwing themselves furiously into the last manoeuvres.

A rush of spectators surged to the waterside to watch the finish as elated Kiwis cheered their team.

Vessels flocked to the New Zealanders on the Great Sound, while flags and Kiwi regalia, including a supporter in a full kiwi costume, swarmed around the Louis Vuitton stage where the victors officially received the “Auld Mug”.

The trophy was hoisted high in sprays of champagne, before the New Zealanders headed back to their base with the Cup.

Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby gave heartfelt thanks to the people of Bermuda, telling the crowd: “We’ve met some fantastic people along the way here — thank you so much for having us.”

The Great Sound proved “an amazing venue for a sailing event — we’ve absolutely loved this place and would like to come back and visit.”

Grant Dalton, the New Zealand CEO, called Bermuda “fantastic” as a venue, thanking the ACBDA for “an outstanding job” and saying the team would “certainly like to talk to them about the opportunity of coming back”. The team will likely head home on Sunday, he added.

Dr Gibbons said there would be details given later this week on further events emerging from the America’s Cup, but took Mr Dalton’s remarks to be “very positive”.

“What this has demonstrated is that Bermudians working together can manage an international event of this calibre, which puts us in a very good position for future events.”

Asked if hosting the America’s Cup had paid off for Bermuda, Dr Gibbons gave “a resounding yes”.

Many Bermudians had rooted for the Oracle team in the hope of securing more America’s Cup events, he conceded — and also “because of the time they’ve been here and the way they’ve been involved in our community”.

“But it’s a race. We knew one or the other would have to win.”

Off duty: David Burt and Cole Simons put election hostilities on pause to enjoy a chat at the America’s Cup. The Leader of the Opposition and the Minister of Education were spotted at Club AC, in the America’s Cup Village on Sunday afternoon