AC35 Bermuda: match made in heaven
The oldest trophy in international sport will be contested for in the waters of Britain's oldest colony in June 2017.
The news Bermudians have eagerly awaited for several months arrived at 12.40pm yesterday when Harvey Schiller, the America's Cup Commercial Commissioner, announced Bermuda as the host for the 35th event at a private press conference at the Crosby Hotel and Screening Room in downtown Manhattan.
The announcement was met by rousing applause from those in attendance, including Premier Michael Dunkley, representatives of the six America's Cup syndicates and Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Mr Schiller told those present that Bermuda's bid, led by Dr Grant Gibbons, the Minister for Economic Development, had been too difficult to ignore.
“One place stood out as the best location offering everything we needed to make it an exceptional event,” he said. “I am pleased to announce that the America's Cup 2017 will be held in Bermuda.”
The Island beat bids from 12 destinations to host the America's Cup, which will result in an American syndicate defending the Auld Mug in foreign waters for the first time.
“There were 12 jurisdictions that put in bids and they were all quality places,” Mr Dunkley said.
“Some had hosted the races before, so we knew we were up against stiff competition.
“But one of the things we managed to do under the management of Dr Gibbons and his team was to differentiate ourselves from the others; show them something special.
“We have that in the time zone that we can race in. If they race in the afternoon, those races will be in prime-time throughout the world.
“The strengths that we had to bring to the table in our bid, such as our location and climate for year-round sailing, put us in the game and to partner with an organisation like the America's Cup is very special. This is quite a remarkable moment for Bermuda and our people.”
The Premier acknowledged that hosting an event of this scale would be a massive undertaking for Bermuda.
But he is confident the Island will meet its obligation.
“We have a big job in front of us, but Bermuda always shines when we are put under pressure,” he said. “There are exciting things to come and a lot of work we have to do but I know we're up for the challenge.
“We have a deep maritime history and our DNA is part of the ocean. When it was rumoured we were in the bidding for the last spot, Bermudians got excited because we love to show off our Island — and we have a lot to show off.
“We invite anybody who hasn't been to Bermuda before to come down and watch America's Cup sailing because you are going to be blown away by the experience. The sailing in Bermuda is just a match made in heaven.
“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.
“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.”
Dr Gibbons said Bermuda would benefit from hosting the America's Cup in many ways.
“The exposure we are going to get out of this and just the interests in Bermuda fits so well in terms of where we would like to go from a tourism destination,” he said. “We have been talking about super yachts and this is going to be the wind beneath the wings of a lot of projects, particularly in the hospitality area. It's going to be absolutely fantastic. It's nice to have Bermuda back in the centre of the game again.
“I am so pleased the America's Cup Event Authority have put this vote of confidence in us and our ability to be able to take this forward.”
Mr Dunkley said the “Government has worked hard to create jobs and rebuild our economy”.
“This America's Cup is a perfect stimulus to help us get farther along that road and make Bermudians feel better today than they did about yesterday,” he added.