JEDDAH: Jeddah is preparing to host one of the most anticipated regattas in the sailing world as the America’s Cup comes to town between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2.
The regatta is taking place at Jeddah Yacht Club and Marina, one of the most modern in the Red Sea.
Emirates Team New Zealand will be defending their title against teams from the UK, Switzerland, France, Italy, and the US.
Participating teams alongside the defending champions include INEOS Britannia, Alinghi Red Bull Racing, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, NYYC American Magic, and Orient Express Racing Team.
The race schedule will include three days of fleet races. The racing area is immediately offshore from the Jeddah Yacht Club and Marina, and races will be broadcast live on the America’s Cup YouTube channel.
The schedule is: Nov. 28, official practice; Nov. 29, official practice; Nov. 30, race day one — three fleet races; Dec. 1, race day two — three fleet races; Dec. 2, race day three — two fleet races, match race final (one race).
The event is backed by the Saudi Sailing Federation and the Ministry of Sport, in conjunction with Neom.
Both bodies 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 helping to broaden access to the Red Sea, according to Samia Bagdady, CEO of the Saudi Sailing Federation.
The federation also plans to use the event to launch new initiatives to help as a key driver for the region’s top sailors of tomorrow to get the support and training they need to compete on the global stage.
Jeddah spectators and America’s Cup fans are eager to get a glimpse of the world’s finest foiling sailors as they engage for the first time in such a race on the Red Sea.
Hattan Halawani, 29, a resident of Jeddah, told Arab News that it was a great opportunity to see the top sailors competing.
He added: “We are really lucky to witness this highly anticipated event here in Jeddah and we are looking forward to spending an exciting time, starting on Wednesday.”
Spectators can watch the action on the big screen, and there will be daily entertainment, along with a merchandise store where fans can buy their favorite team kit while grabbing refreshments.
The yacht club’s top floor will give America’s Cup sponsors and guests VIP views overlooking the racing area.
Team bases will be next to the marina, with viewing spots adding an extra layer of excitement.
Spectators will be able to watch boats coming in and out of the marina as they head out or back from the racing, as well as having spectacular views from the Jeddah Corniche Race Village.