The America’s Cup
One of the biggest journalistic ventures I undertook in Portsmouth with Team Locals was our America’s Cup World Series coverage — live social media updates and follow-up articles of one of the biggest sporting events to ever arrive on our island’s shores. The America’s Cup is an international sailing event that’s been around since 1851.
We approached the America's Cup as we would a local football game: with enthusiasm, passion, and excitement. All feelings which we strived to make as infectious as possible. How? By getting genuinely excited for home team Ben Ainslie Racing’s success! Here’s a generous dollop of stuff we did for the America’s Cup.
On 25th November 2014, we published the first article about the America’s Cup coming to Portsmouth. The story unveiled Sir Keith Mills, Deputy Chairman at the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, as the lead manager of the events.
A couple of weeks later, we wrote up the first ticket update — 85,000 sold. This was another opportunity to explain the ticket setup for the first year of the ACWS Portsmouth, and how tickets are split between the racing and concert.
“Portsmouth City is looking its best for America’s Cup World Series.” This was a spectacular headline to showcase how the America's Cup World Series Portsmouth benefitted the city, with many parts of the seafront renovated in preparation.
A guide to racing
Though Portsmouth has a strong seafaring history and a sturdy sailing presence, we were still being faced by hundreds of questions every day about how the racing and scoring actually worked. So we wrote a concise guide to help local people out, explaining everything from how the foiling catamarans worked to the points system. This guide was viewed by thousands locally, and further afield, too.
In 2016, one of the racing days was called off due to extreme weather — we remained resilient, though, wrapping our DSLRs up in plastic bags to keep them safe from the rain and wind!
Less than a month later, we excitedly announced Royal support from HRH Princess Anne, who visited the America's Cup World Series Portsmouth display at the London Boat Show to meet Sir Ben and Sir Keith.
Portsmouth, being an island city, had plenty of people wanting to watch the races from boats on the Solent. When on-water spectatorship plans were announced, we wrote about them, boosting ticket sales in a new demographic.
More Royal support
A couple of weeks ahead of ACWS Portsmouth, we penned an article about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paying a visit to the city on the final day of the America's Cup World Series. All stories we run about Royal visitors get immensely positive responses.
Thousands of spectators
After the year of work we'd invested in promoting the America's Cup World Series Portsmouth, it was brilliant to see such a huge turnout. It was also fantastic news for us to share with our readers. We published an enthusiastic article on our site about the thousands of event-goers.
The ultimate feel-good aspect of the America's Cup World Series Portsmouth, though, was of course Land Rover BAR's win! They took first place, and the elated response from our social media audience and website readership was exhilarating. Portsmouth people showed their pride and support.
One of our first local-centric stories in relation to the ACWS Portsmouth was about the Wavemakers — a team of volunteers from the city to aid in running the massive sporting event. This showcased organisers' efforts to provide local employment.
Carly Rae Jepsen, Spandau Ballet, McBusted, and Wet Wet Wet were announced for the evening concert entertainment at the ACWS Portsmouth — we wrote stories for each act, and targeted social media posts to the core demographics of the musicians and bands.
On the radio
Just days before the start of the America's Cup World Series Portsmouth, our friends at the city's only local radio station, Express FM, got in touch to let us know they'd be covering the racing action on air. This pleased many members of our audience, who were passionate about supporting their local radio station.
If there's one thing our audience loves, it's seeing businesses work together in the city. We wrote an article about how the America's Cup World Series Portsmouth was working with Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, showcasing their focus on benefitting the local economy.
On the ground
While Charley ventured onto the water, I stayed on land, capturing the racing, aerobatic displays, crowds, and Sir Ben Ainslie himself, from the ground.
Our second local-centric ACWS Portsmouth story came in March 2015, when we wrote about how Portsmouth residents could get free tickets for the seaside sporting event.
In June 2016, we went along to the official launch of the Ben Ainslie Racing base in Old Portsmouth.
While we were there, we interviewed council leader Donna Jones on a topic many locals had asked us about on social media: benefits for the local economy.
A day-by-day schedule
One of the reasons we're so successful at social media is, we always build a concise infrastructure behind our live content. We wrote up a legible day-by-day schedule on the Team Locals website, which we could send to people on social media in seconds if they had questions about the dates and times of certain aspects of the America's Cup World Series Portsmouth. Many other people also shared the schedule post.
Another feel-good factor is seeing how local transport companies had to arrange strengthened infrastructure to keep up with the demand of all the visitors to the seaside. Hovertravel were one such company — they ran an extended timetable, which reflected the popularity of the ACWS.
Charley made the 2015 highlights video above.
Gatecrashing the celebrations
In 2016, we shot the majority of our photos and videos of the America’s Cup racing action from a jetty out in the Solent water. The jetty was there for sailors to board and disembark their boats, but we managed to wangle our way on, as always. All was going as standard until the final race on the final day of the series came to a conclusion. Ben and his racing team sailed over, hopped onto the jetty, and began crossing the floating bridge back to land at the same time as us. We were planning to slip into the crowds when we reached the shore, but there was no opportunity. So we followed the UK sailing team all the way up to the stage, and got a sick vantage point for the cork pop. We also brushed with royalty — Katherine and William were there!
The Land Rover Experience
The UK’s home team in the America’s Cup — Ben Ainslie Racing — ran a number of promotional events to promote their sponsors, Land Rover. One of the coolest events was a four-day popup in Gunwharf Quays, a shopping center in Portsmouth.
Land Rover had some big-ass ramps set up to show off the ascent/decline brake control of some of their latest models.
We sat in the back of the car to get some passenger perspective shots for this video of the popup. Charley risked having his GoPro crushed to get footage of the rovers climbing up the ramp from underneath.