From 23 to 26 July 2015 Portsmouth will be hosting the fastest racing fleet on the planet. Here is what you need to know about the America's Cup
For four days between 23 and 26 July 2015 and again in 2016, Portsmouth will be hosting the fastest racing fleet on the planet in front of the largest sail-racing audience since the 2012 Olympic Games in Weymouth.
Six wing-sailed foiling multihulls – AC45s – will race each other at over 40 knots on a compact windward-leeward course in the opening round of the ACWS (America’s Cup World Series) – a regatta series in which every race will count for points ahead of the America’s Cup finale in Bermuda 2017.
The course off Southsea Beach is designed to be viewed live from the grandstand seats in the designated ‘Fanzone Stage’. This is a ticket-only area to be constructed on the green to the west of Southsea Castle. However, there are plenty of free options for viewers across all four days of the event, including live televised broadcasts, big screens with live commentary, a small number of free unticketed viewpoints on the shore, or the two designated viewing areas for spectator boats afloat.
Tickets in the ‘Fanzone Stage’ for the race days (25 and 26 July) were still available at time of writing, but selling fast. The 5,000-capacity area includes a Grandstand for which tickets on the Saturday and Sunday (race days) have already sold out. Views from anywhere in this zone, however, are still better than any other location, according to the organisers.
The rest of Southsea Common is given over to the so-called ‘Festival site’. This is also a ticketed area, but tickets are free of charge. Sailing fans here will have a worse view, but there are large screens with live commentary to keep you up to date with events on the water. An initial cohort of 30,000 tickets were allocated very quickly several months ago, however the America’s Cup Event Authority has managed to get permission to double the capacity and a further 30,000 tickets have now just come online. A pop concert, Portsmouth Live! will also be held here after racing finishes on the 25 July featuring Spandau Ballet, Wet, Wet, Wet, McBusted and Carly Rae Jepson. Tickets for the concert are not free and are sold separately.
Further large screens will be set up at locations in Portsmouth including Historic Dockyard, Gunwharf Quays next to the Gosport ferry and Guildhall Square. Alternatively, for armchair viewers at home, BT Sport and the BBC will be showing live coverage of the races (details below). Anyone hoping for a view from Southsea Pier or the foreshore at Gosport would be well advised to do some careful research, arrive early to bag a spot and hope for the best.
On the water viewing
Organisers are expecting viewers afloat and ashore for all four days of events, however QHM (the Queen’s Harbour Master) has indicated six or seven mooring buoys will be laid off Victory and Sheer jetties inside the harbour flashing yellow lights (5 seconds) from 20 July. The small vessel channel in and out of the harbour will remain open and restrictions on anchoring already indicated on chart BA2625 will be enforced.
Boat owners planning to watch afloat are advised to read the Queens Harbour Master Portsmouth Local Notices to Mariners advice in full and be prepared to follow orders from marshalls throughout the events.
The course may change from the one indicated on the diagram depending on the wind direction and further guidance may be published for each day of the racing depending on forecasts. There will be exclusion zones around the course, and a channel maintained for ferry traffic in and out of Portsmouth Harbour. Charter boats organised by Sunsail, Marine Events and Solent RIB charters will be permitted to view the racing from inside the exclusion zones.
Schedule in detail
The event schedule across all four days is published in detail on the acws-portsmouth website and is, of course, subject to change. The public can view the teams preparing boats at the Historic Dockyard between 0900-1100 on all four days. Moth racing and kitesurfing displays will also take place every day between 1100-1230. Individual days’ highlights include:
Thursday 23 July will be the official parade of sail from 12:45 – a chance to view the six expected entries all together for the first time. The official press conference will be held on the Fanzone stage from 15:00.
Friday 24 July will feature the boats tuning up off Southsea beach from 1230, the practice races between 13:30 and 15:00 preceded by the Red Arrows 12:10-12:30.
Saturday 25th July will feature a helicopter display at 1030, the Red Bull Matador air display at 1200, AC45s tuning up from 1245 with racing between 1330–1500. Press conference 1530 then Blades air acrobatics team 1600.
Portsmouth Live! pop concert starts at 1900 featuring Spandau Ballet, WetWetWet, McBusted and Carly Rae Jepsen.
Sunday 26th July features the same warm-up as Saturday except for the Trig aerial display team replacing the Red Arrows. The final race is for double points, which virtually ensures a dramatic decider at the end. The prizegiving is at 1615 followed at 1830 by a Spitfire squadron flying display.
How to follow America’s Cup World Series, Portsmouth
All boats are carrying tracking devices so you can follow their progress on the race course at www.americascup.com on Saturday July 25th and Sunday July 26th
BT Sport is the UK Live Host Broadcaster for the 2015–2017 America’s Cup. During the 2015 Portsmouth event they will show all racing action live on BT Sport and will do the same for all other ACWS events.
BBC is the UK Highlights Host Broadcaster for the 2015–2017 America’s Cup. During the 2015 Portsmouth event they will show a half hour evening highlights show on the Saturday and Sunday evening as well as an event hour long highlights show on the Monday evening after the event
A live radio broadcast available at Portsmouth Live! Radio on 93.7fm
Don’t miss out on all the results, reaction, updates and gossip behind the scenes with our live blog on www.acwsportsmouth.com
Results will be updated at the end of each race at www.americascup.com with points and ranking