JEDDAH: Preparations are in full swing to welcome the six teams taking part in the second preliminary regatta of the 37th America’s Cup on the Red Sea in Jeddah.
Teams from New Zealand, the UK, Switzerland, France, Italy and the US will compete at the world’s oldest and most prestigious yachting event, being hosted by Jeddah Yacht Club & Marina from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.
Saudi Arabia will be the only venue outside of Spain to host an America’s Cup regatta during the 37th AC cycle.
The fleet of AC40s will compete out of Jeddah Yacht Marina just a few hundred meters away from the racetrack that has hosted the Saudi Arabia Formula One Grand Prix for the past three seasons.
The hosting of the regatta in Jeddah represents a milestone in the history of both the Cup and the Kingdom; a recognition of Saudi Arabia’s growing sports initiatives and a proud moment for Jeddah’s residents.
With 55 days to go, the organizing committee of the event has worked closely with local partners to ensure that the regatta runs smoothly.
The committee, in partnership with the Ministry of Sports and the Saudi Sailing Federation, hosted a two-day workshop for local media in which they gave an overview of the history of America’s Cup.
Media officials also had the opportunity to sail with professionals on the Red Sea.
“As the pinnacle of sailing, I know the 37th America’s Cup and this preliminary regatta can be utilized as an event for positive influence on a number of fronts,” Grant Dalton, CEO of the 37th America’s Cup and head of the Emirates Team New Zealand, told Arab News.
“When standing back and looking at the opportunity for the growth of our sport that exists in the region, it is truly significant. Sixty-seven percent of the country’s population is under the age of 34. Women’s participation in sport or physical activity is up 149 percent in recent years. So, we have a unique chance to grow sailing and create new connections with the unprecedented sustainability projects within the Red Sea that can transform lives through sailing and the technologies associated with it.”
Dalton said that the synergy between Jeddah and the America’s Cup was immediately evident, with a lengthy list of pros in the city’s favor.
On the Red Sea city being considered to host such event, Dalton said that “the friendship, the honesty, the can-do attitude” compelled him to discover more about what Jeddah had to offer.
“There’s a real pioneering feeling, and a real desire to get on and do something, not just talk about it,” he said. “This fits quite naturally with the America’s Cup and who we are.”
“You have undiscovered sea — it is the most beautiful condition for sailing and we love it.”
In his welcoming speech to the media, Hassan Kabbani, chairman of the Saudi Sailing Federation, said: “It is an honor to be selected to host an America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta and to be able to showcase to the sailing community the wonderful conditions we have.”
Samia Bagdady, CEO of the Saudi Sailing Federation, who played a major role in bringing the regatta to Jeddah, said: “We are working in partnership with the America’s Cup to ensure that the event will be a catalyst to inspire local people, as well as broadening access to the Red Sea.”
For the general public, Jeddah’s famed Corniche will offer wide viewing areas, presenting spectators with a close-up views of the thrilling action as the AC40s pass by at speeds of up to 100 km per hour. Home to the America’s Cup Race Village, the Corniche will serve as a space for fans to relax and watch the racing in real time, or catch every moment on giant screens.
The Race Village is open to the public at no cost, with all the racing streamed on the big screens, as well as entertainment on the main stage.