The America’s Cup, the oldest international trophy in sports, has been the pinnacle of yachting competition since 1851. Now, as the world focuses on the tiny island of Bermuda, Louisa Beckett discovers what this means for those visiting by superyacht.
The Bermudian government sees hosting the 35th America’s Cup as a way to put the island back on the luxury travel map. “Tourism actually was in decline until about four or five years ago, when the government made a very serious decision to invest in it,” says Bill Hanbury, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. “One of the things we decided to do when this opportunity came to us was to go all in because we really felt this could be our Super Bowl, our World Series, our Wimbledon....”
In addition to investments of more than $100 million in the island’s infrastructure, Bermuda also has made serious revisions to the maritime regulations that govern visiting yachts. “They impact (everything) from immigration to customs, to chartering, to how we navigate within our waters,” Hanbury says. Prior to this summer, he explains, “You couldn’t charter a superyacht in Bermuda waters. Those days are over. We have made these changes that are already in place for the America’s Cup, but we fully assume they will continue beyond the America’s Cup.”
According to Sam Hollis, chief operating officer of the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA), however, one of Bermuda’s best assets is its people. “Anyone who has been to Bermuda will tell you that the warmth and generosity of the Bermudian population is astonishing,” he says. “The whole country has embraced the America’s Cup, and anyone coming to Bermuda next year will find they are greeted like old friends.”