America’s Cup 35th holds potential for bigger superyacht turnout
Organisers of the 35th America’s Cup have announced today that Bermuda has won the bid to host the 2017 event over San Diego. All the speculation and rumours surrounding the venue choice were confirmed as commercial commissioner Harvey Schiller announced the decision in a press conference in New York.
Stating the criteria on which the decision was based, Schiller explained that the Event Authority looked for a venue that had great sailing conditions, would look spectacular on television, was well-known for its hospitality, had suitable time zones for broadcast and was able to facilitate an America’s Cup village. “One place stood out for its potential to make the 2017 America’s Cup a spectacular event,” stated Schiller. Michael Dunkley, premier of Bermuda, also expressed his delight at the decision and explained that the purpose built event village will be based in South Basin in Dockyard, currently under development.
While news of the Cup being taken away from the U.S. to a British overseas territory is sure to spark controversy amongst traditionalists in the sailing community, the decision may well come as positive news for the superyacht sector due to a preferable location.
The first ever official superyacht programme organised alongside the America’s Cup was held in 2013 at the San Franciscan venue and saw a disappointing turnout of spectating yachts. Post-event assessment suggested that the inconvenient location away from the usual superyacht circuit and strict regulations surrounding foreign-flagged yachts chartering in US waters led to the disappointing superyacht presence.
And the same issues would have been present if the choice was San Diego, but with the Cup now heading to Bermuda, just a stone’s throw from the superyacht milk run, the 2017 edition has all the right ingredients to host a successful superyacht programme. Mark Soares of Bermuda Yacht Services has has been working on the logistics of hosting the event from a superyacht perspective and is optimistic for the turnout. “I think we should expect to have 100 to 150 superyachts because the time of year coincides with what is our regular transient season for superyachts back to the Med anyway,” he explains. “So not only are we on route but they have now got a really good reason to come here at a time of year when they are going to go to the Med afterwards anyway. It is pre-hurricane season and post-Caribbean season so it’s perfect. It also fits in with our efforts in promoting Bermuda as a destination and not just a transient stopover for superyachts.”
Soares also hopes that the decision will act as a catalyst for much-needed regulation changes relating to yachting in Bermuda. “The Cup is going to be the launching pad for the yachting industry in Bermuda as there has been no real incentive to change existing legislation up until now,” he adds. “The key issues are going to be surrounding charter but we have been working with the tourism authority to package something up that will fulfill all the requirements for superyachts in Bermuda. It’s something that was already in action before but this decision will hopefully speed it up. Whether it is going to get passed it is not definite but it is certainly a consideration.”
by Bryony McCabe