Can-do attitude bolsters AC build-up
If any doubt lingered about whether the Bermuda community would wholeheartedly accept the America’s Cup as an event that would have a positive and healing effect on the Island’s economic ills, it must have been dispelled by two events held during the last few days.
First, a large and enthusiastic audience at a Town Hall meeting at the Heritage Worship Centre in Hamilton on April 22 heard an upbeat assessment of Bermuda’s efforts to get ready for the event.
A few days later, a Potential Economic Impact Assessment prepared by the America’s Cup Bid Committee was released, confirming that the country should benefit by some $242 million in direct spending as a result of the event.
The Progressive Labour Party’s latest attempt to sow doubt about the event by questioning projected America’s Cup spending did not attract much public attention/concern.
That’s not surprising. Judging by the town hall audience, most Bermudians by this stage have either already launched themselves into efforts to get involved, or are thinking about how to launch themselves into efforts to get involved!
There’s not a lot of room left for political mischief-making. Team Oracle set an aggressive deadline for Bermuda’s efforts to get ready, by announcing they wanted to get their vessel in the water by May 1. That meant that their headquarters in Dockyard, complete with hangar-like accommodation for the boat and its support crew, would have to be built in less than six months.
It has happened. If you haven’t been to Dockyard recently, I suggest you pay a visit. It doesn’t look as it used to, that’s for sure. It’s an ongoing process.
It is expected that ten or 11 more acres of land are going to be reclaimed during the course of this year to create the Event Village. The chief executive officer of the America’s Cup Bermuda (ACBDA) organisers, Mike Winfield, has paid tribute to Bermuda’s can-do attitude. “I’m happy to say we’re seeing that collaborative spirit in Dockyard.
“A huge amount of progress has been made thanks to the commitment and abilities of the Bermudian contractors on the site.
“There has been excellent teamwork between the various companies and it is gratifying to see these companies working together so well to get the job done.
“The list of contractors and service providers working on the Oracle base is extensive and reflects ACBDA’s commitment to ensure wide access to opportunities from America’s Cup-related work.”
At the Town Hall meeting, he mentioned Bermuda Stevedoring Services as typical of the will to get things done for the America’s Cup event, saying the firm had taken a request to sail the mv Oleander to Dockyard to offload containers in its stride. It had never been done before, he said, but “they made it happen”.
Inside the Oleander’s 40-foot containers, which were brought to Bermuda from San Francisco, was the infrastructure of the new Team Oracle racing base, including a gymnasium, kitchen facilities, a mechanical workshop and high-speed support boats.
As a result, Team Oracle has been able to put its boat together and get it on the water early. Artemis Racing, which represents Kundliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet, the Royal Swedish Yacht Club, is now expected to be the second team in Bermuda, arriving some time in May.
Responding to questions at the Town Hall meeting, Peter Durhager, the chairman of the ACBDA group, spoke of getting Bermuda onto the road to economic recovery.
Among other unmeasurable benefits of the America’s Cup, he said, was the fact that Bermuda would receive “thousands of hours of television coverage over the next two years… both through the World Series event, the promotion of the Bermuda event and then a month of televised coverage globally, with something like a billion people watching around the world.
“That’s huge in terms of the relaunch and reinvigoration of our tourism sector.
“If we do those things, we feel entrepreneurs and business owners and investors will do the things that they do, which is to take risk, invest capital and put it to work in the community and rebuild that infrastructure, that tourism product and supporting services.
“If we do that, we think that rising tide will lift all boats.”
Who in Bermuda doesn’t want that to happen?