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America’s Cup and Bermuda – making history together

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Our chance to shine: the island successfully hosted an America’s Cup World Series event last October, showing the world what a great choice Bermuda is for the 2016 America’s Cup. (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

One thing you learn when you’ve been around the America’s Cup for as long as I have is that time passes quickly as the races approach.

Today we’re marking the milestone of having one year to go to the first races in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers in 2017, and in some ways that sounds like it is still somewhat far away. But I can assure you, it will fly past.

It’s worth taking a moment now to reflect on what has been accomplished in the 18 months since Bermuda was selected to become the eighth host venue in the long history of the America’s Cup.

Over the course of the past year, three teams have moved their operations to Bermuda — Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan. They have relocated families, built incredible team bases, engaged local workers, contractors and tradespeople, and are now operating at high efficiency as they prepare to race next summer in Bermuda. The island successfully hosted an America’s Cup World Series event last October, showing the world what we already knew: Bermuda is a great choice for the America’s Cup.

From the hospitality of her people, to the beauty of the Great Sound racecourse and to all the charms of the island, this is where we all want to be.

It has been also thrilling to see the engagement and positive response generated by America’s Cup Endeavour, the youth education and sailing programme started in Bermuda, and which has already given an opportunity for close to 1,000 young Bermudians to get on the water or learn about sailing through a Steam — science, technology, engineering, arts and maths — curriculum in the schools. Bermuda has shown such strong support for AC Endeavour that the programme is now set up to run long after the America’s Cup finishes — another fantastic project and great legacy for Bermuda.

Furthermore, over the course of the next year, things are going to accelerate.

Three more teams, Emirates Team New Zealand, Groupama Team France and Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing, will be relocating to Bermuda from late summer onwards.

The six teams will each launch and begin training on their new America’s Cup Class boats just after Christmas this year. These are the boats that will race in May and June of 2017. They will regularly hit speeds of 50mph in training on the Great Sound as they prepare for the race of their lives next year.

And over at the Royal Naval Dockyard, the America’s Cup Event Village will begin taking shape. This will be a fantastic facility that will allow all the teams to be housed together and will have free public access to watch the racing. The next year is shaping up to be a memorable time for all of us involved in the America’s Cup, with a lot of exciting racing and other activities taking place.

I, for one, look forward to seeing, enjoying and sharing those special moments with all of you, as Bermuda writes its own chapter in the story of the America’s Cup.

Sir Russell Coutts, a five-times winner of the America’s Cup, is the chief executive officer of the America’s Cup Event Authority,