Written by Gareth Carpenter
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Topics: Essex, trophy

Friday, 9 January 2004

image for Southend to host Americas Cup
Americas Cup - "We're not elitist"

There were jubilant scenes in Essex yesterday after Southend-on-Sea and Canvey Island was confirmed as the next venue for sailing's oldest trophy, the Americas Cup.

British candidate Southend beat off competition from other major European cities such as Valencia, Marseilles, Lisbon and Naples for the right to host the prestigious event in 2005.

Last year the Swiss, true to their proud seafaring heritage, became the first European winners of the trophy in its 152-year history. However, Switzerland was forced to call for nominations from other countries to host the event after race organisers deemed Lake Geneva "too posh".

Americas Cup spokesman Michel Bonnefous said that Southend had all the credentials and facilities for a successful tournament.
"It's got a sea," he said.

But some local residents said they were concerned whether Southend was the appropriate location for an international event.

"If this means we're going to have to put up with a bunch of flash Hooray-Henrys sipping champagne, eating oysters and shouting ‘jolly ho' for a couple of months then I'm not happy," said Mike Dawes of Leigh-on-Sea. "What's wrong with cockles, whelks and lager?"

Bonnefous insisted that race-goers would "respect not disrupt" the community and categorically denied that the sailing competition was in any way elitist.
"Anybody with an 85-foot yacht can enter," he argued.

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