Free on-the-water spectator areas are expected to attract around 1,650 boats to Southsea waters
Thousands of spectator boats are expected to take to waters off the South Coast in two week’s time to cheer on Sir Ben Ainslie at the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) Portsmouth.
Six international teams will be competing in technologically-advanced carbon-fibre AC45 catamarans, reaching speeds in excess of 40 knots close to the shore.
Last year’s inaugural event attracted more than 25,000 spectators on board 1,650 private and chartered boats.
Unlike the crowds on Southsea Common’s Race Village, grandstand and lounge area, boaters intending to watch the ACWS Portsmouth from the water do not require tickets – but will be subject to traffic and anchoring restrictions.
The event runs from 21-24 July with racing on 23 and 24 July. There will be air displays from the Red Arrows on Friday, the Blades on Saturday and Red Bull Matadors on Sunday.
Queen’s Harbour Master (QHM) Portsmouth is working with event organisers, Team Origin, to ensure the event is an exciting spectacle but conducted in a safe manner for all water users. Royal Navy vessels will be assisting with patrols, and race teams will be based at HM Naval Base Portsmouth from mid-July.
Deputy Queen’s Harbour Master Gideon Sherwood said: ‘We’ve learnt a lot about what to expect from last year, when we had quite a lot of craft along the Swashway, which is not a safe place to view from and impacts Isle of Wight traffic.
This year it’s going to be even clearer where vessels can go. The racing area is going to be slightly smaller, a new format which will make for even more spectacular racing and a better viewing area.
‘South-west of the racecourse, there will be a dedicated area where craft under 20m can view from, and may anchor if they wish.
East of the area we will have a no-anchoring zone which people may use, but it’s imperative we keep the Swashway and the main channel clear.
Between races we’ll be bringing out ferries from Portsmouth International Port, and Isle of Wight ferries need to run.
The Swashway will be marked by red buoys, and stake boats will be present in the area where spectator craft are not to loiter, so it should be readily apparent where you can spectate from.’
On Thursday, 21 July, craft will be on the water – not for racing, but for a media and local schools engagement day. Friday 22 July will see the practice races, while the main races will be staged on Saturday and Sunday, 23-24 July, between 1340 and 1500, and 1330 and 1550.
The race area will have an exclusion zone from 1100. If there are unsuitable conditions, the race window – and exclusion zone – could be extended to 1700. Boats can travel around it; the small boat channel will be in place throughout.
Anyone wishing to anchor is advised to get a spot before 1200. Sailors with boats over 20m long who wish to attend must apply to QHM by emailing email@example.com to anchor.
Event director Leslie Greenhalgh said: ‘As we saw last year, the support we have received from the Royal Navy is fundamental to the successful hosting of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth.’
He added: ‘We encourage fans from around Britain to visit Portsmouth and support Land Rover BAR on home waters and experience the spectacle of the America’s Cup.’
Race organisers have created a commentary system on FM Radio station 93.7 which will also be used to broadcast information to spectator craft. All spectator craft are to maintain a listening watch for instructions from QHM Harbour Control on VHF Channel 11.
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