Hampshire & Isle of Wight

America's Cup: Portsmouth to host preparation events

Americas Cup racing Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The last America's Cup took place in San Francisco in 2013

Portsmouth has been selected to host two preparation events for yachting's 35th America's Cup.

The America's Cup World Series (ACWS) races will take place from 23-26 July 2015 and 21-24 July 2016.

The ACWS gives teams entered for the next America's Cup the chance to test the 45ft catamaran boats they will use.

Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR), the team of Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie, is the British challenger for the 35th staging of the America's Cup in 2017.

In June, Ainslie's plans for an America's Cup headquarters in Old Portsmouth were approved.

'Game changer'

All six of the America's Cup teams will compete in the ACWS event which is one of up to 10 regattas being held around the world during 2015 and 2016.

As well as the holders, Oracle Team USA, crews from Sweden, the UK, Italy, France and New Zealand are due to take part.

Their overall placement will affect the seeding and starting score they take into the America's Cup qualifier events in 2017.

Sir Ben said: "The last ACWS was a game changer for the sport of sailing - the racing was entertaining and brought in the crowds.

"The new foiling AC45s (45ft catamarans) are going to be faster and even more exciting than the previous generation and we promise to provide an event experience like you have never seen before. Come and cheer us on."

Plymouth hosted the last ACWS event to be held in British waters when crowds of 150,000 watched the racing in September 2011.

Portsmouth council leader Donna Jones said: "The ACWS has a proven record of attracting huge spectator numbers to competing venues, and it will provide a massive boost to our marine and maritime industry and bring economic benefit to Portsmouth."

The Portsmouth events will encompass the dockyard, HMS Warrior and Victory, the Mary Rose Museum, the Spinnaker Tower, Gun Wharf Quays and Southsea Castle.

The events are being run by management company Teamorigin, headed by London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games deputy chairman Sir Keith Mills.

America's Cup explained

•First staged in 1851 off the Isle of Wight in England. Won by US yacht America

•No British team has won it, but Sir Ben Ainslie is hoping to change that with his new team

•Racing is boat-on-boat, called match-racing

•Takes place roughly every three to five years

•The winner decides the rules and venue of the next event

•As holders, Oracle Team USA have revamped the format. Qualifying rounds have been streamlined and will start in 2015. The finals are likely to be in June 2017

•The boats will be smaller and cheaper, and a quarter of each crew has to be from the team's home nation

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