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Bermuda gets Cup! This time it’s official

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America's Cup commercial commissioner Harvey Schiller, left, and Michael Dunkley, the Premier of Bermuda, sit on either side of the Auld Mug during today's press conference announcement that Bermuda beat San Diego for the right to host the 2017 regatta

At approximately 12.40pm today, Harvey Schiller, a previously little-known man to Bermudians, ushered the magic word — “BERMUDA” — and, at once, became a lifelong friend of these little islands whose international calling card for far too long has been linked intrinsically to a particular, mythical triangle.

Not any more.

The Associated Press, through the reputable Bernie Wilson, thought the race to host the 35th America’s Cup was all over when it broke the news on November 20 that Bermuda had pipped San Diego. It is now.

During the announcement this morning Schiller said: “One place stood out as the best location offering everything we needed to make it an exceptional event. I am pleased to announced that the America’s Cup 2017 will be held in Bermuda.”

Schiller, who serves as commercial commissioner for the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA), made the announcement in a packed New York hotel before a 15-strong Bermuda contingent that included Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Dr Grant Gibbons, the Minister for Economic Development, who is also the bid leader, and Bill Hanbury, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Mr Dunkley said: “This is quite a remarkable moment for Bermuda and our people.

“We are delighted to be here with you today and honoured that Bermuda was selected to host the 35th America’s Cup in 2017. Being the home of the America’s Cup is an extraordinary opportunity that aligns perfectly with the heritage, profile, spirit and future of our Island.

“In its 163-year history, The America’s Cup has been held in just eight locations. Bermuda is honoured and proud to join this distinguished group.

“We thank the America’s Cup Event Authority for their confidence in us — and for their vision to evolve the experience for spectators and participants alike.

“There is no better vivid and hospitable setting than Bermuda to stage an event of this nature and for the continued evolution of the sport.”

The eyes of the world will now be on Bermuda as never before, with the America’s Cup, which was taken to a new stratosphere of drama and visual art in the 34th edition in San Francisco last year, commanding an international audience into the billions as Oracle Team USA clawed its way back from an 8-1 deficit against Emirates Team New Zealand.

The decision made by software billionaire Larry Ellison and his eminently wise men in the ACEA means that Bermuda will be at the start, if not the end, of every meaningful conversation to do with sailing for the next three years.

The racing may not begin until next October, with the America’s Cup World Series preliminary event providing a three-day dress rehearsal of monster catamarans zooming up and down the Great Sound, but the work required to make this event a hit approaching the standards of the unparalleled 2013 vintage should light a blue touchpaper to the Island.

The term “game changer” could never be more apt.

San Francisco took in an estimated $346 million for hosting Oracle’s successful defence of the Auld Mug last year and reported more than 700,000 spectators on shore.

Bermuda may struggle to match such numbers, but what a boost for the local economy if the Island could come close to equalling the 2,000 new jobs that were created in the Bay Area, with development and investment expected to accelerate in several industry areas.

In seeing off San Diego, which has hosted the America’s Cup three times, Bermuda become the first offshore venue by a defender out of choice.

Valencia, Spain, twice hosted the event when the Swiss team Alinghi were the cup-holders, but that was because Lake Geneva was seen to be unsuitable for racing.

So coming to a place near you will be 45-foot wing-sailed catamarans, with the latest in hydrofoiling technology helping the craft to build speeds of up to 50mph. But that is merely for the World Series from October 16 to 18.

Then for the qualifiers and play-offs to determine the challenge to Oracle, and for the final match itself over the best of 17 races, the stakes are raised even higher with the 62-foot cats, or AC62. With the right wind conditions, these boats are expected to surpass the speeds that were reached in San Francisco Bay when the AC72 was the “weapon” of choice.

The hope of Ellison and his men is that the sleeker boat with fewer crew will add to the world’s new-found love affair with the America’s Cup.

Bermuda, hold on. This promises to be one dazzling ride.

Michael Dunkley, right, meets the media with Harvey Schiller after today's momentous announcement
Michael Dunkley takes questions in New York
Harvey Schiller made Bermudian dreams come true with today's announcement