Is Bermuda ready for the America’s Cup?
Published on October 15th, 2015
by Mary Longpre
All America’s Cup regattas from now on will no doubt be compared to the exciting, thrilling, and fun event sailed on San Francisco Bay in 2013.
I have been to every America’s Cup since 1987 in Australia, but 2013 was the first time I watched the regatta from the bleachers. Aided by the visuals on the Jumbotron TV screen, we sat amazed as the AC72 cats foiled past just a 1000 feet away. Stadium racing, great TV coverage, and fantastic venue made for a spectacular experience in San Francisco.
But that was then… this is now. Is Bermuda ready for the America’s Cup? This weekend we will get a preview as the third series in the Americas Cup World series is raced in Bermuda on October 17-18.
The tiny ‘British Overseas Territory’ will be tested in every way, from hosting thousands of race fans to running and managing great racing in the confining waters surrounding the city of Hamilton.
So what are the challenges for Bermuda?
First, it is 600 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. Everything, and I mean everything, must be brought to the island. As you would expect, prices for everything from food to housing are very expensive. Bermuda has lots of hotel rooms but most people will find them expensive, thus a financial challenge for this tiny island to host enough fans and tourists to view the races.
There are no rental cars in Bermuda. So it is either a taxi, which is expensive, or renting a motor scooter, which is not for the faint of heart.
The race courses are a challenge too. The planned courses leave Hamilton Harbor and go up and around the north end of the island to the Great Sound, out of sight of most spectators. Races are also short. Most will last only one half hour or less with two races scheduled per day.
The scoring is also different. Races on Sunday score twice as many points as races on Saturday so a last place on Sunday scores the same as first place on Saturday. I haven’t exactly figured that one out yet.
But the locals in Bermuda are among the friendliest people in the world… a big plus for race fans. The local folks are really putting forth a big effort and Hamilton is getting a major freshening up with new paint and new buildings. The “Old lady” is getting a new dress.
The main shopping area on Front Street is getting blocked off for the expected crowds this weekend. They have concerts, a zip line, food trucks and a lot more all going on day and night. The program starts Friday with opening ceremonies and fireworks. Game on!
Photos by Mary Longpre.