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Bermuda makes final cut for America’s Cup

Bermuda officials made a compelling case to host the America's Cup in 2017 and race organisers believe they will be in “good hands” if they ultimately decide to stage the event here.

The Island now goes head-to-head with San Diego in a bid to win the right to host the multimillion dollar competition, after yesterday's announcement that the two sites were through to the final stage of the bidding process.

Chicago, the third contender, has been dropped, and race organisers are expected to pick a winning bid before the end of the year.

Describing both bids as “motivated and enthusiastic”, Russell Coutts, the director of the America's Cup Event Authority, said the organisation was looking forward to an exciting and successful race.

“Both Bermuda and San Diego have made very compelling cases to be the host for the next America's Cup. We will be in good hands with either venue,” Mr Coutts said.

“We are now able to focus on two venues that are motivated and enthusiastic at the prospect of hosting the next America's Cup.

“I'm confident that we're on target to finish with a venue that allows us to achieve our goal of hosting an exciting and successful America's Cup built on a strong commercial foundation.”

He added that race organisers would now work with both venues to finalise organisational requirements and commercial opportunities, as well as establishing relationships with the public and private sectors to ensure a successful event.

The news means that Bermuda will at least host some of the preliminary races in the money-spinning America's Cup series — even if it does not make it across the finishing line ahead of San Diego for the 2017 competition.

“It's the best thing that's happened since they designed the Bermuda rig,” Tim Patton, a past president of the Bermuda Sailing Association, said. “It's not just a great thing for our economy but a great thing for us as a sailing nation.”

“It's not just what it does for our tourism, although there will be a lot of employment generated through it and a chance for Government departments to show their expertise,” Mr Patton continued. “We are a wonderful maritime nation and it gives us the opportunity to show the world that.”

Winning the right to host the event could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the Island, and substantially improve long-term tourism.

An economic impact study for San Francisco, which hosted the 2013 race, showed that while the City of San Francisco lost $11.5 million, the total economic impact for the area exceeded $550m.

The report estimated that some $92m alone was spent by participants and spectators on accommodation.

Mr Patton added that the Island would need to import some technical experts to help prepare for races, but that “the trickle down will be just phenomenal”.

“It will be the biggest thing that's happened to Bermuda in many, many ways and for many, many years,” he said.

Grant Gibbons, the Minister for Economic Development — who spearheaded the Bermuda bid for the cup — said hosting the event would accelerate investment in several areas across the Island.

“In terms of adding a boost to our economy, hosting the America's Cup will undoubtedly mean an increased demand for transportation, accommodation, retail and hospitality services,” he said.

“We would anticipate an investment in upgrades and additional capacity in our hotels and tourism product and this will ultimately result in an increase in jobs in our construction and tourism sectors.

“We are extremely enthusiastic about the possibility of having the privilege of hosting the America's Cup finals in 2017.

“This would be a historic moment for Bermuda, if chosen, and we look forward to continuing to progress through the bid process.”

Meanwhile Premier Michael Dunkley called on the Island to come together for a milestone event that he said would give Bermuda “unprecedented exposure”.

“It will highlight Bermuda's legacy as a maritime sailing destination,” he said. “Hosting an event of this magnitude on Bermuda's shores will require the support and participation from all spheres of our community.

“The benefit potential for Bermuda is something that we should all be cognisant of and I very much look forward to joining with all of Bermuda in showcasing our hospitality to the world.”

Bermuda sailing legend Peter Shrubb, an international judge in the America's Cup and World Championship events, added: “The benefits are going to be huge — and it's a long term thing.”

He predicted that Island success in a prestige event would also help promote Bermuda as a training ground for other major sailing events.

“This will be a step forward for us in terms of respectability in the sailing world and put us firmly on the map.”

Composite photo by Akil Simmons Down to the wire: With Bermuda in the final two to host the America's Cup in 2017, this is what the Oracle Team USA boat might look like racing across the Great Sound if the Island was awarded the rights to stage the event.

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Published July 09, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 09, 2014 at 12:51 am)

Bermuda makes final cut for America’s Cup

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