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Plan to extend America’s Cup benefits for Island

Sailing boost: Ben Fairn, left, and Richard Mitchele

A bid to use the America’s Cup to turn Bermuda into a long-term mecca for sailors has been launched by two Island businessmen.

They have a plan to boost sailing in Island’s waters, especially in the winter, under the banner of Sail Bermuda.

Ben Fairn and Richard Mitchele, of Hamilton-based advertising agency Aardvark Communications, said Bermuda could extend the benefits of the event by creating an Olympic sailing centre to boost visitors in the off season.

Mr Mitchele, a veteran blue water yachtsman, and Mr Fairn said they had looked at former America’s Cup hosts Auckland, in New Zealand, and Valencia in Spain.

The 2003 event in New Zealand led to a “huge and sustainable boom” for Auckland, while Valencia saw little benefit after the 2007 Cup was over.

The duo said that investment in Olympic training and a commitment to hosting regional, national and world championships would all help keep Bermuda in the sailing limelight for years after the 2017 America’s Cup had ended.

They are working on a proposal to start a new offshore race in the spring from Puerto Rico to Bermuda to capitalise on the northbound yacht traffic at that time of year.

The pair are talking to potential sponsors and key figures in sailing with a view to turning their dream into a reality.

Mr Mitchele said: “If we do our job right, all Bermudians will benefit for years to come.”

Mr Fairn added: “People from New York will spend big money on a weekend skiing in Colorado — and we want to be to sailing what Aspen is to skiing.

“We want to leverage the tourist traffic and global media exposure that the Cup brings to let people know that Bermuda is a spectacular all-year round sailing destination.”

Mr Mitchele said that friends in Canada were unaware that they could fly from Toronto “and be standing on the deck of a racing yacht three hours later.”