America's Cuppers arrive in UK
The International America's Cup Class will be racing in the Solent this year - where the whole thing started - and the first two have arrived and are berthed at Port Solent, in Portsmouth Harbour.
France 2 and France 3, the two International America’s Cup Class boats being offered for both individual and corporate charter by Sunsail, arrived by ship in Portsmouth Harbour last week.
Having been off-loaded, the two boats together with a barge which carried their rigs, keels and containers full of equipment, were towed up harbour to Port Solent where they are to be refitted, rigged and prepared for a busy season of charter work.
The refit programme is anticipated to take about four weeks and the first charter is already booked for the end of March, allowing sufficient time for the boats to be fully restored to racing condition. Two skippers and a number of permanent crew members have been recruited, all of whom are experienced in IACC yachts, and they will form the backbone of the crews when the yachts are out on charter.
The Solent will see a unique collection of America's Cup boats this summer as they gather for the America’s Cup 150 Anniversary Regatta taking place at Cowes between the 16th and 25th August.
This celebration will include examples of the various classes that have raced for the trophy since the original competition round the Isle of Wight in 1851; including the J class, 12 metre class and the International America's Cup Class, used in the present day series.
Also arriving in the Solent this month will be three Japanese IACC boats purchased by the GBR Challenge group who have entered the next America's Cup, the 31st, in Auckland, New Zealand in 2002. This is the first challenge by a British team since 1987.
These three boats will be based at Cowes and after refitting will be used for training in the Solent by GBR Challenge before they move to their New Zealand base in October.
With the Hoya Round the Island Race, Admiral’s Cup, Cowes Week, the America’s Cup 150 Anniversary Regatta all taking place this summer, the Solent will be a busy place. The GBR Challenge boats will be out training and the Sunsail boats are already chartered for the Round the Island Race, some days of Cowes Week and most of the America’s Cup Week, so these craft are set to become a familiar site to local yachtsman.
To get a close up of the Sunsail America's Cup boats you can see them at Gunwharf Quay in Portsmouth, where they will be moved later in March.