This feature previously appeared in YPI 360 issue 3 2016.
Bermuda, a small island in the North Atlantic, is rejoining the big league of yachting locations as it prepares to host the America’s Cup presented by Louis Vuitton.
Local expert David Lahuta highlights the island’s impressive efforts to welcome back superyacht owners and charterers.
Bermuda may be known for its pink sand beaches and colorful namesake shorts, but it will soon be synonymous with one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world – one that will draw upon the island’s rich maritime history and its longstanding tradition of open-ocean navigating. “The America’s Cup is the pinnacle of international sailing,” says Bermuda Premier Michael Dunkley who – along with his team of public, private and tourism representatives – successfully outbid respected sailing venues including San Diego, Newport, Rhode Island and San Francisco, which hosted the regatta in 2013.
Make no mistake, the America’s Cup (May 26 – June 20, 2017) will be the biggest show in town when it arrives in Bermuda next year, which is why the island is diligently preparing for its wealthiest visitors.
“We might expect to see as many as 100 superyachts during the stretch of activities in 2017,” says Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Bill Hanbury. “Over a six-week period that could generate over $14 million in on-island spending,” says Hanbury. “For that reason, we see superyachts as a tremendous opportunity for Bermuda, not only for the America’s Cup, but as a legacy benefit as well. We want to keep them coming back again and again long after the America’s Cup is over.”
For superyacht owners and ultra-high-net-worth individuals seeking to charter a vessel for the event, public and private investments of up to $100 million are underway to develop local island infrastructure to support the spate of expected arrivals. Most notably, this has been in the form of the Princess Marina − a new, state-of-the-art, full-service facility, including sea-view restaurant from celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson − at the recently renovated Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. There are 60 berths and the capacity to accommodate some of the largest superyachts in the world. Plus a new 77-berth marina being developed at Morgan’s Point with around 150 residencies, and another planned for the Town of St. George’s, which is expected to open 38 berths in time for the America’s Cup. Add to that new legislation that will ease restrictions on foreign-flagged vessels to entice superyachts to visit for the three-month period before, during and after the America’s Cup, and Bermuda is quickly positioning itself as the Atlantic’s preeminent yachting destination.
“From our perspective, superyachts are a key component of our event,” says Sam Hollis, Chief Operating Officer of the America’s Cup Event Authority. “We’ll provide exclusive access for those owners who come to Bermuda as part of the official America’s Cup Superyacht Program, including front-row viewing of the race course, premium berthing in the heart of the America’s Cup village, plus some incredible experiences and opportunities that money can’t buy.” That includes access to the official VIP hospitality venue called Club AC, team base tours, VIP access to concerts, functions and parties, plus other value-added perks such as duty-free fueling and immigration clearances.
As if that wasn’t enough, superyachts will also be given VIP viewing flags, which will provide front-row access for the America’s Cup race course plus a special J Class Regatta, featuring classic wooden race yachts from the early nineteenth century as well as an America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta, which will be organized to take place in the middle of the America’s Cup festivities in June next year.
“The Cup features those at the very pinnacle of yachting with yachts reaching speeds of over 50 knots,” enthuses William Bishop, Head of Sailing at YPI, who advises owners and charterers to book their place on the America’s Cup Program early. “YPI can help them organize their involvement, berthing arrangements, AC Village access and more.”
“The America’s Cup is traditionally a very glamorous sporting event and superyachts blend in perfectly with the backdrop of this fantastic sailing race,” says British Land Rover BAR Team Principal and Skipper Sir Ben Ainslie. “Bermuda will be a fantastic venue [for] a whole host of superyachts and will also be a great place where owners can socialize and network.”
Idyllic assets and leisure activities include world-class golf courses, such as the Mid Ocean Club, designed by Charles Blair Macdonald, and a pristine marine environment where snorkeling, diving and sport fishing are popular – and where, of course, the world’s greatest regatta is ready to set sail. Now, with the full might of the America’s Cup behind it, this mid-Atlantic gem is poised for the world stage and its people are ready to welcome the white-hulled masses.
“The genuine warm hospitality and easy-going lifestyle of Bermudians is a winner with superyacht owners and their crews,” says Hanbury. “They absolutely love it here, but they don’t know how much they’ll love it until they’ve had their first taste.”