The AC in BDA

I’ve been to Bermuda a dozen times…flew there once. And, while I prefer the ‘Arrival by Sea’ stamp in my passport, to a sailor, a Dark n’ Stormy in hand and ‘delivery’ in under three hours makes the innocuous airport arrival stamp seem much less defeatist. My wife and I speak with great fondness of this special place. Among our favorite memories are honeymooning there, her watching my Newport Bermuda Race finish from St. David’s Lighthouse in 2008, and racing in the Onion Patch Series together. We are looking forward to creating many more memories, and maybe watching the America’s Cup races there will be one of them.

When the news that the Cup had a chance of taking place in Bermuda in 2017, we discussed what fun it would be to enjoy the racing at a place we love – and one that’s so close. Not since Newport, RI has Cup racing been within a short flight (or sail) of our region. Though .we didn’t think Bermuda had much of a chance of hosting the Cup, we still made plans as one does when divvying up a yet-to-be-won lottery jackpot, with grandiose accommodations and exciting race watching.

We didn’t think Bermuda would host the 35th America’s Cup, for the obvious reasons. Bermuda is a foreign country, so why would the defender, an American team representing an American yacht club, choose to bring the Cup regatta – and its potential financial windfall – there? Moreover, why choose a place with limited tourist accommodations? And why an island that is known to be costly?

According to the organizing authority, Bermuda was selected for its consistent conditions, ideal spectating opportunities in and around The Great Sound and, in general, “a perfect international venue to demonstrate the excitement America’s Cup boats and teams can generate.” While Bermuda certainly has these attributes, I am sure that myriad other circumstances and factors drove the decision. Regardless of the reasons, this is where the next Cup will be held.                                          

There are already rumors of a paucity of available lodging, and those rooms that are vacant will be unobtainable for the average sailing fan – priced out of reach when one considers paying for flights, too. While I don’t think that going to see the Cup races will be inexpensive, I doubt that Bermuda, the organizing authority or any of the teams wish to race in a venue that cannot accommodate a large number of fans. Moreover, hotel rates and airfare weren’t exactly bargains when the races were held in San Francisco, and the flight time was much longer for us East Coasters!

As my wife and I discussed different options for experiencing this Cup, we agreed there would likely be insufficient accommodations on terra firma for the number of race fans likely to swarm the island. But, since the America’s Cup Village will be based at the Royal Naval Dockyard, why not bring in a cruise ship as an on-site floatel? How cool would it be to wake up in the morning and walk to your window (or porthole) overlooking the village and the racing venue?

We also talked about doing the Marion Bermuda Race! If race calendars align, maybe we’ll see the 2017 MBR arrive in Bermuda as the Cup Trials get underway. Why not make the MBR the largest pilgrimage of boats in the history of the race (or any race, for that matter)? Check the MBR’s new Crew Finder to get on board a boat, or start making plans now to enter your own. This could be an opportunity to check off two bucket list items at once! I say start planning to attend. If you’re willing, there will surely be a way! I hope Bermuda will provide an event that even the most skeptical devotee of the America’s Cup will be delighted with.

I understand the dissatisfaction that folks may be feeling about the Cup – no matter what, someone will experience frustration with the current iteration of sporting’s oldest trophy, be it nationality issues, vessels, the cost of mounting a successful campaign, or hosting the Cup outside the defender’s country. I am eager to hear what our readers have to say as plans unfold,  and equally interested in learning of the ways that people can visit Bermuda to see these races.

I think if you’re going to do it, do it right. In my mind, Bermuda has the potential to beat San Francisco, Auckland, Fremantle – and yes, even Newport – as a venue. Only time will tell. And, whether you’re doing the Marion Bermuda Race or combining your Cup watching with a vacation: When the day’s racing is done and the boats are put away, you’re in Bermuda!

See you on the water!

Chris Gill

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