America’s Cup bid can put the wind back in our sails
If you repeat a lie enough times some people will start to believe it’s the truth. The Progressive Labour Party did a great job of repeating to everyone that the America’s Cup was bad for Bermuda. It continues to repeat this lie every time it feels the pressure or does not want to answer probing questions.
It is the trick of a magician to distract with one hand while creating the illusion with the other. The PLP’s trick was to continue complaining about the “billionaire boat race” to distract you from the $336 million benefit the 35th America’s Cup had on our gross domestic product. Political gain at the expense of progress for our community.
The America’s Cup created jobs for Bermudians. It brought investment into our country and showed our people hope — a reminder of how great we can be if we work together. There is a lasting legacy for youth sailing with the Endeavour Programme, which brought diversity to the sport and continues to benefit our youth. Team BDA saw nine Bermudians selected out of 120 athletes who tried out. These young Bermudians gained world-class training and life-changing experiences. Team BDA made us proud, winning races after such a quick learning curve.
Our young people need to feel encouragement. They need to know our country is vibrant and creating solutions to bring them sustained success. Bermuda needs a success; we need a shot in the arm to get people back to work. We need to regain the enthusiasm that will get us back on track. Despite a 30-6 majority, the Government keeps asking the Opposition for solutions. So here’s one: why not dust off the solution the One Bermuda Alliance already achieved? There are media reports that the 37th America’s Cup needs a home. The Government should swallow its pride and bid to bring back the America’s Cup.
During AC35, the world was able to see Bermuda in all its beautiful colour with 450 million viewers. Bermuda has the best environment for the race, we have the best hospitality, and we know how to put on a show. The PLP should have built upon the momentum AC35 created. Instead, it repeated lies for political gain. Why not put aside past behaviour and work together to make Bermuda the envy of the world again? Why don’t we bid to bring back that amazing energy to back to our island? Let’s have Cross Island become the home of AC37.
I know we will need outside investment, but there are people here who would be excited to support the return of the Cup. How many people are still seen wearing AC35 merchandise from their favourite team? How many businesses would love to see the return of the teams? Who wouldn’t want the business that was created during the Cup? Teams training here means more people spending more money. This adds money to the local economy at all levels of our community. Everyone has been waiting to hear the Government come up with new ideas. Why doesn’t it just borrow another successful idea from the OBA. We would support the PLP if it did — because we understand it’s about doing what’s best for all of Bermuda.
It will take strong leadership to swallow its pride and admit that the Cup was good for Bermuda. SailGP will be a good first step, but why not make the big push to have the Cup back in Bermuda. It would be the perfect relaunch of the Bermuda product after the darkness of Covid. Let’s hope the Government reaches out to see if the America’s Cup could return. We need jobs, we need tourists and we need some good news. Why not AC37, Bermuda?
• Ben Smith is the Opposition Senate Leader and the Shadow Minister of Sport