AC35: ‘Our time to shine’, says Dunkley
“It's our time to shine”.
That was the resounding message last night as thousands gathered along Front Street to welcome the oldest trophy in sport to its proud new home.
The eagerly anticipated announcement on Tuesday that Bermuda will host the 2017 America's Cup has already been hailed as a “game changer” for the Island's struggling economy.
Michael Dunkley pledged yesterday that Bermuda's hosting of the prestigious competition would present “extraordinary opportunities” to Bermudians in every sector.
“It is now up to us as a community and as individuals to understand and embrace the amazing opportunities now before us,” the Premier said.
“Winning the bid to host the 2017 America's Cup is the beginning and it can be the catalyst we need to propel us into a prosperous future. There is work to be done and jobs to be had.
“There will be opportunities for Bermudians in every level of our workforce and we see all Bermudians benefiting from the America's Cup.
“There is an investment in our infrastructure and economy that is coming. Such development will live far beyond 2017 as a legacy both to the America's Cup and Bermuda.
“This is our moment to shine, so let's celebrate tonight and then tomorrow let's get to work, together.”
The Premier joined Ministers Dr Grant Gibbons and Shawn Crockwell and a host of America's Cup and local dignitaries to mark the historic arrival of the Auld Mug on Bermuda shores.
Crowds gathered at the Flagpole in Hamilton to hear Sir Russell Coutts, director of the America's Cup Event Authority, say that the welcome his team had received had “exceeded any of our expectations”.
He said: “You will see the teams start to relocate to Bermuda early next year — some have already started to send teams. “Then by the spring, some of the teams will be sailing their yachts in Bermuda.
“The first of the competitive races will begin in October when all of the teams will be here to race in the World Series. The village will be based in Hamilton.
“In 2017 the teams will be here and be based at Dockyard at the America's Cup village for a month of great racing. It truly is going to be a spectacular spectacle.”
Dr Gibbons, Minister for Economic Development, urged all Bermudians to get involved in the huge preparation operation that would need to be mounted to host the Cup and regattas.
“Starting from tonight our team just got much bigger,” he said.
“If we are to provide these events to the excellent standards that are required it must involve all of us.
“You are now part of our team.”
Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell echoed Dr Gibbons's sentiments, saying that “it is important that we all come together and work together to ensure that we show the world our best”.
He said: “This event will be televised worldwide live in Europe, North America, the Pacific Rim, New Zealand, Australia and the Middle East.
“That is an awesome amount of exposure. Bermuda has never had that amount of exposure at one time.
“I am very encouraged about the impact that this will have on our tourism sector — across the board we can expect a real resurgence of our tourism industry.”