Sir Russell Coutts believes the heart-warming manner in which Bermuda embraced this weekend’s racing has vindicated the organisers’ decision to award the Island with the 2017 America’s Cup.

Coutts, the America’s Cup event authority chief executive, said the way Bermuda came alive for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series over the past three days turned out exactly how he envisioned.

When it was announced that the Island had been selected to host the 35th America’s Cup in New York last December, there was a drumbeat of criticism and concerns from sailing traditionalists.

Coutts, however, always trusted that Bermuda would provide an intimate backdrop, with the Great Sound’s tight course offering thrilling racing for viewers watching from the shoreline or on television.

“I think a lot of people didn’t know the reasons why we selected Bermuda, or didn’t quite understand the selection at first,” said Coutts, who won the America’s Cup five times.

“I’m sure when they look at the event, especially those who were here this week, now get why we put the America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017.

“Not only has Bermuda seen it, we’ve seen how Bermuda has responded, and it’s exactly how I imagined it.

“They have put their arms around the event and the people are absolutely loving it. It’s going to be a really cool event in 2017.”

After the postponement of Saturday’s racing because of a lack of wind, the six America’s Cup teams took to the Great Sound yesterday with Artemis Racing, the Swedish challenger, narrowly clinching the regatta.

With different winners for each of the three races — Oracle Team USA, Artemis and Emirates Team New Zealand — Coutts believes the competition is as a fierce as ever.

“The great thing about the current line-up of teams is that anyone can win it,” said the New Zealander.

“People have been saying that anyone can win it and anyone really can.

“It’s competitive and that’s the most compelling thing. We saw that in the 2013 America’s Cup when we had really good races between two teams [Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand].”

“It’s the same here, I think we’ve got some really competitive teams.”

This story appeared in The Royal Gazette on October 19th, 2015.

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