Today the world’s attention is once again on Portsmouth as British Olympic hero Sir Ben Ainslie prepares to perform on the grand stage – and capture the nation’s heart.
Whether you are passionate about sailing or not, it’s undeniable that the America’s Cup World Series is a truly global spectacle that puts the region firmly on the international map, pulling in hundreds of thousands of visitors and major benefits for the economy.
Sir Ben – who prepares to lead out his British Land Rover BAR side in the Solent in a round of practice racing ahead of the weekend’s competitive action – is just one of a number of modern sporting heroes aiming to inspire a generation.
And his call today to people across the Portsmouth area is to show their passion – and evoke some of the unwavering spirit shown at Fratton Park on Pompey match days – as he looks to unnerve his challengers and put his Portsmouth-based team a step closer to America’s Cup glory.
There’s more than just the thrill of the race action.
The Red Arrows will be roaring over the skies of the Solent from midday today, adding to the buzz and excitement around Southsea.
We all know that last year’s World Series was blighted by the weather.
But everyone also remembers the atmosphere and immense pride displayed on that one day of racing when the sun beamed down on Southsea Common.
And so we’re rallying behind Sir Ben and endorsing his message to the people to go all out once again for the America’s Cup. If we’re blessed with sunshine all the way through the competition, there’s no doubt it will be looked back on as a momentous occasion.
The event organisers Team Origin acknowledged lessons had to be learnt from last year.
So that’s why Southsea Common will be opened up to all spectators who can show their pride and enjoy the races without any restrictions.
We’re a city that’s proud of putting on major events and proving why it’s a hive of cultural activity on the south coast.
And the significance of the World Series is huge; because if Sir Ben’s Brits can go on to win the Portsmouth cup regatta, then that’s another step to the finals of the historic America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017.
And if BAR can win the trophy, then the 2021 America’s Cup finals could be staged back in Portsmouth.
It’s a truly exciting prospect and the benefits would be huge – improving prospects for people who live, work and visit the region. It would give businesses, investors and developers renewed confidence that this is the place to be and put their money. And ultimately that is something we all want to see.
It’s time to once again show that famous Portsmouth pride.