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An event that helps capture the spirit of Britannia, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series will bring yacht racing to waters off Portsmouth in July. Along with the best sailors in the world, the event brings yet another reason to enjoy the great maritime city on the South Coast.

Actually started in the channel near the River Solent in the 1850s, the racing circuit now features some of most hi-tech and expensive sailing vessels in the world. The 35th America’s Cup returns to the home of the race as they compete in Portsmouth from 21-24 of July.

Sea-faring countries from around the world will race 45-foot, foiling, wing-sailed catamarans. The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series is the first stage of the competition in the America’s Cup. The event started in 2015 with similar race circuits taking place in Portsmouth, Sweden and Bermuda. This year, the circuit has visited Oman, New York and Chicago. After the UK race, it will move to the coast off Toulon in September to close out 2016.

The event will hit its finale with the top two performing boats racing next summer in Bermuda with both aiming to capture the America’s Cup.

For those who have enjoyed a holiday cottage in Hampshire, you know how amazing the Portsmouth coast is and how it will be a great backdrop for the races. If interested in attending the event – or having a go at sailing yourself – we have all you need to know.

The Origin of the America's Cup

The entire spectacle of the event started in 1851 when a schooner called “America” crashed a sailing race being attended by Queen Victoria. The sailing ship emerged from the Solent and jumped into the race passing the official Royal Yacht. When the ship won the race, it is told that the Queen asked her attendant who was in second place.

“Your Majesty, there is no second,” came the famous reply.

For racers in the Cup, that phrase uttered to Queen Victoria defines the passion of the races. In the 34 previous series, the New York Yacht Club has captured 25 titles. The current cup holder is the Golden Gate Yacht Club from California. Only teams from Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland have offered winning boats in the past. British sailors have never won since losing the cup in that first race in 1851. The current British entry is skippered by Sir Ben Ainsley – the nation’s greatest-ever sailor.

Image credit: Antoine Imbert (flickr.com)

Portsmouth – The Great Waterfront City

It is fitting that the races return to Portsmouth where it all began. Clearly the boats are the star of the weekend, but the city is gearing up for a great party as well. For the event, the city’s waterfront will come alive with entertainment, air shows, food & drink, special exhibits, and fun for the kids as well.

There are tickets available to watch the sailing and admission to the event race village. The village features interactive exhibits about sailing, the race teams, and the event’s history. For more information and ticket availability, visit the event website.

Beyond just the boat races, visitors can enjoy the many attractions of Portsmouth. From the Spinnaker Tower to a number of museums and galleries, the city is proud of its maritime past. The city and the event is the perfect locale to help you enjoy a great cottage holiday experience.

There are music venues, great shopping and some of Southern England’s best pubs, restaurants and eateries. For tourists visiting Portsmouth, there are great shopping centres like Gunwharf Quays, Commercial Road and Cascades Shopping Centre. There is also the D-Day Museum and the city’s Historic Dockyard.

Enjoying the Water Yourself

In August, the Royal Yachting Association is encouraging people to try sailing for free. In anticipation of the Rio Olympics, the group is encouraging folk to have a go at the classic British sport. Just like Ainsley who has become one of the most heralded sailors in history, you can try your hand. To celebrate a Summer of Sailing, you can visit one of 40 events in the country – including one at the Portsmouth Watersports Centre.

At the Watersports Centre, they take pride in teaching the art of sailing. They have instructors who are ready to work with beginners and seasoned sailors alike. They offer a number of sailing courses tailored to various experience levels. Contact them for more information, but they offer all the necessary equipment to get out on the water. All you need is a change of clothing and shoes you don’t mind getting wet – and a sailor’s attitude as well!

All of the courses they offer take place over a weekend, through a number of evening sessions, or exciting 4-day courses.

Other companies offering sailing classes include Sunsail sailing school, as well as Hamble School of Yachting. Sunsail provides world-class sailing classes from its Port Solent base. It also provides sailing help in the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and Australia as well. Hamble welcomes first-time sailors, but also provides a nice progression of programmes for those looking to become a professional. For around 35 years, they have provided RYA-endorsed sessions at Hamble.

If you are looking for a sailing experience merely as a spectator, Solent Yachting allows you to take to the waves in luxury. They provide yacht charters and offer parties and events. For a great day out on the water, they can provide the boat and the captain – even the towels, gear, food and clean-up after a day’s sail.