Bermuda has “knocked it out of the park” as an America’s Cup host, according to at least one longstanding journalist.
Mark Reid, who has covered America’s Cup events since 1980, said that Bermuda had left a positive impression internationally, although the overall impact will likely be hard to gauge in the short term.
“It takes time to look at the economic impact,” he said. “You can’t say next week, when the Cup races are over, that you’re ready to bid on the next America’s Cup. I think it takes time to see those legacy opportunities present themselves.”
The California-based journalist, who writes for Bay and Delta Yachtsmen, said he fell in love with the America’s Cup while in college on the east coast.
“I went to school in Massachusetts and during the summer we all had jobs in Rhode Island,” he said. “At the time, Newport was the home of the America’s Cup and I was a journalism major, so it was cool to go down there and see this international event going on.
“It was a fascinating time. I loved the technology, I loved the internationalism of it, and I got hooked. With the technology and the controversies, as a journalist it just drew me in. From that point on it has been part of my life, it has been part of my work and it has been part of my passion.”
He compared the island to previous event hosts Newport and Fremantle, saying Bermuda has a small-city charm and praised Hamilton for fully embracing the event.
There are banners everywhere and everyone is wearing America’s Cup or Team BDA shirts,” he said. “It seems like every facet and little corner of the city has embraced the America’s Cup, as opposed to San Francisco.
“San Francisco did its part, but it’s a big international city, and sometimes even events like the America’s Cup get lost in the daily routine. In Auckland they embraced the Cup, but it’s a major city and Valencia is a major city.
“I think the Cup lends itself in a charming way to a smaller city. Bermuda has presented a unique opportunity for the event, and it has been an amazing experience to be here.”
“San Francisco thought they already had the tourists anyway, so there was a degree of objectionism,” he said. “They really didn’t provide a continuing legacy for the Cup, and there were several opportunities to do so. They wanted to develop one of the pier spaces down by the bay and that didn’t work out, so San Francisco really lost its chance in some respects to build a legacy, which is probably why it’s not there anymore.”
Comparing the media attention drawn to this year’s event in comparison to previous America’s Cups, Mr Reid said that numerous stories have emerged this year to bring eyes to Bermuda.
“From storyline standpoint, there are certainly a lot of great stories going on to draw people in,” he said.
“There has been a lot to capture the imagination: when the Kiwis capsized and had to repair the boat and were able to get through that part of the round robins; New Zealand jumping off to a 3-0 win; and the question of if Oracle can come back like last time.
“And, obviously, Team BDA fuelling the local spirit. I see more Team BDA shirts more often than America’s Cup shirts sometimes. It’s fantastic that the Bermuda youth team has managed to get people invested. It’s not just Oracle from San Francisco, it’s Team Bermuda. That makes it exciting.”
While he said that Bermuda seemed poised to host some form of America’s Cup event in the future, he admitted some doubts as to whether Oracle Team USA would be able to pull off another ‘come from behind’ victory.
“I don’t know if there are as many tools left in the toolbox as there were last time,” he said.
“Last time the boats were more of an open class and they could do a lot more to the boats to modify them, to change them in short order. Oracle were changing their boat every day.
“This time, there are a lot more one-design elements in the boats. Certainly Jimmy Spithill is tenacious. He will do whatever it takes to win. He doesn’t like to lose at all. With their design team, I think they have used the five days with their design team experimenting a bit and trying to see what they can do, but I don’t think they have the tools and the Kiwis are improving every day too.
“If Oracle can win a race on Saturday, I think everyone in New Zealand will get less sleep and maybe some people in America will wake up and think that maybe there is something here.”