The clock may be ticking, but preparations for the America’s Cup push on “ahead of schedule”, with organisers confident Bermuda will deliver a sailing spectacle that will be remembered for generations to come.
With just 363 days until the teams sail out into the Great Sound, those behind the island’s successful bid, as well as those who put their faith in the country to stage one of the biggest events in sport, say the event has already provided unparalleled opportunities for children as well as a major boost to the economy.
But they insist the legacy and ultimate success of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup 2017 event will depend on buy-in from the whole community.
Harvey Schiller, the commercial commissioner of the America’s Cup Event Authority, told The Royal Gazettethat Bermudians had stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the rest of the world in preparing for the event.
“The level of professionalism has been as good or better than any of the events I have been involved in, including Olympics and World Series,” he said. “The challenge of making it a successful America’s Cup falls on everyone in Bermuda.
“Everyone wants the chance to stand on the victor’s podium, every Bermudian has the opportunity to do that in a year’s time.”
Dr Schiller acknowledged that the ACEA could have done a “better job” telling people about Bermuda after the island was awarded the event. But he maintained the Bermuda brand had received global exposure during World Series events.
“To have a successful sporting event you need three things: firstly, security, and we could not have chosen a safer place in the world. We are in the right place on and off the water,” he said. “Secondly, the right field of play, and we have the perfect racecourse. Thirdly, much depends on how the media react and that has all been very positive.”
Meanwhile, Mike Winfield, chief executive of America’s Cup Bermuda, revealed preparations were ahead of schedule and that he was confident the island would deliver “the type of venue to the levels of excellence required”.
“We have to have the entire population of Bermuda working towards putting on this event and put aside any naysaying and negativity and work towards a single goal,” he added.
Both Mr Winfield and Dr Schiller hailed the significance of the Endeavour programme and establishment of a Bermuda team for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, which they said had ensured America’s Cup opportunities had trickled down through the community.
Dr Schiller said: “For any sport to be relevant in the future you have to engage the younger generation. The things that have been done in Bermuda engaging with that generation are providing a model for other countries around the world. That is an important part of the future of sailing and a legacy that everyone should have pride in.”
Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, added: “The Endeavour programme is being offered to every M1 student in Bermuda. It teaches science, technology, engineering, art and maths through sailing.
“Already more than 800 students have participated.
“By adopting the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Team BDA, Oracle Team USA is supporting the ambition of 15 remarkable young Bermuda athletes, some of whom had very little prior exposure to sailing.
“Now they have an extraordinary opportunity to represent their country on the world stage.”