Guide to America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth
Image credit: Shaun Roster
The highly-anticipated America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) arrives in Portsmouth from the 23 — 26 July, promising to be a world-class spectacle for all to enjoy. Find out where you can watch the action, from the racing itself to the entertainment highlights — everything you need to know about the upcoming event in Portsmouth, written by locals.
At the heart of the action will be the impressive high-speed AC45 catamarans (the ACWS race boats) flying over the Solent and piercing through waves at speeds of up to 40mph (64kmph). Portsmouth’s seafront will offer spectacular views of the racing as the battle unfolds between the six teams vying to take the points. Watching these races will be a thrilling high-octane spectacle not to be missed. Find out more about the ACWS teams »
How to get to the event
Portsmouth’s intricate road networks are known for sometimes being tricky to traverse. We’d recommend that visitors to the ACWS arrive by train either at Portsmouth and Southsea Railway Station, or The Hard (Portsmouth Harbour).
Alighting at The Hard (Portsmouth Harbour) will give you the opportunity to visit the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard where five of the ACWS racing teams are based alongside historic warships HMS Warrior, HMS Victory, and The Mary Rose. The seafront and ACWS arenas are roughly 15 to 20 minutes from both stations on foot.
Portsmouth also has a modern Park and Ride facility just five minutes from the main ACWS arenas and Southsea seafront by bus. Two sites will be operating during the event: one in Cosham to the north of the city, and one located just off the M275 motorway leading into Portsea Island.
All-day parking for both sites will be £4.00 per car, and that includes return bus travel. Buses will be running every few minutes, and they head straight to the race village or Gunwharf Quays shopping complex. To pre-book parking (advisable) click here.
Where to watch
The main racing action will take place along Southsea seafront, with the boats emerging from Portsmouth Harbour and passing the historic Round Tower in Old Portsmouth at around 12:30pm on Friday for a practice, then again on Saturday and Sunday for the official racing.
Spectators will be able to view the boats as they enter the race area from vantage points all along the seafront. The best views of the boats heading to and from the race course will be found along the Old Portsmouth coastline heading towards Clarence Pier in Southsea.
We’d highly recommend securing a spot at the Round Tower, or along the stretch of beach known locally as the Hot Walls — though do bear in mind that you will not be able to see the race area from these points.
The racing will take place on an area of the Solent off of the Southsea coastline next to King Henry VIII’s historic Southsea Castle. From here spectators will be able to enjoy an elevated waterfront view along the coastal walkway, on the raised fortifications next to the Castle leading towards South Parade Pier. Races are scheduled to run between 1:30pm and 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Watching from the sea is permitted but is under strict regulations from the Queens Harbour Master. An exclusion zone will be created around the race course to ensure perfect conditions for the ACWS teams. To find out more about exclusions, regulations, and more, click here.
The Waterfront Festival Arena
Southsea Common is a large area of green directly behind the waterfront area. From Clarence Pier to Southsea Castle there are free and paid ticket areas. The Waterfront Festival Arena — located on the Common next to the Southsea Naval Memorial — is a free ticketed area.
More than 30,000 tickets remain for this area but spectators and locals who haven’t already secured these need to do so early as the capacity is limited to 60,000 per day. Views of the seafront will be limited from this area, although giant video screens will be erected around the site, relaying the action as in unfolds.
This area will provide entertainment, concessions stands, shopping opportunities, family activities, and the chance to get close up to the sailors and the AC45 boats. Throughout the day there will be displays on and off the water. This area will be open from 10:00am to 5:00pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and 10:00am to 6:00pm on Sunday.
At night the Waterfront Festival Arena will play host to a series of free and paid-for live music events which include the South Coast Proms featuring The Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines on Thursday and Friday evening (free), and a lineup of acts including McBusted, Wet Wet Wet, Spandau Ballet, and Carly Rae Jepsen on Saturday evening (paid).
All tickets purchased for the evening live events grant the ticketholder access to daytime activities on the Common. Free day tickets and paid evening tickets for the America’s Cup World Series can be found here.
Located directly behind Southsea Castle and on the Southsea Bandstand green, this paid-for arena will provide a unique up-close look at all the ACWS happenings.
You’ll be able to watch the racing from some of the best vantage points, view the sailors’ press conferences and presentations, and watch the parade of sail up close with expert commentary about each team.
Ticketholders will be able to upgrade in advance or on the day for Grandstand seats overlooking the race area. Prices start from £34 for children (under 16 years) and £48 for adults.
There’s a packed schedule during the four days of festivities. From air and water displays to the AC45 racing, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
‘First Thursday’ | 23 July: Highlights from the first day of the World Series in Portsmouth include the arrival of the America’s Cup trophy at 11:00am, the official parade of sail at 12:30pm, Moth racing and kitesurfing displays, and a press conference and presentation of skippers in the paid Fanzone Arena at 3:00pm.
In the evening there’ll be an official opening ceremony at 7:00pm at the free Waterfront Festival Arena, followed by the free-to-attend South Coast Proms concert featuring The Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines at 8:00pm.
‘Fast Friday’ | 24 July: the Red Arrows will be taking to the skies at 12:10pm, before the ACWS teams take part in a practice session on the Solent between 1:30pm and 3:00pm. Shortly after the skippers will come ashore, before a media presentation with skippers in the paid-for Fanzone Arena takes place at 3:30pm.
Friday’s live evening entertainment begins at 7:15pm with a second concert from The Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. Update: this event has been cancelled due to public safety concerns caused by adverse weather conditions »
‘Big Saturday’ | 25 July: Race day! Saturday’s proceedings start with an RNLI helicopter display at 10:30am, and a spectacular air display from the Red Bull Matador aerial display team at midday.
The first two official America’s Cup World Series races will take place between 1:30pm and 3:00pm just off the Southsea coastline. Then there will be an aerobatic display from the Blades Team, before the Portsmouth Live! concert (paid ticketed event) kicks off at 7:00pm in the Waterfront Festival Area. Acts including WET WET WET, McBusted, and Spandau Ballet will be on hand to entertain the crowds.
‘Super Sunday’ | 26th July: On the fourth and final day of the America’s Cup World Series events in Portsmouth, the sailing action will come to a close with the two conclusive races taking place between 1:30pm and 3:00pm, following aerial displays by RNLI helicopters from 10:30am, kitesurfing and Moth racing demonstrations between 11:00am and 12:30pm, and Trig aerial displays around 12:00pm noon.
Skippers will once again come ashore at 3:15pm and will be welcomed onto the main Waterfront Festival Arena stage at 4:00pm by none other than the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The final prize-giving gala will run from 4:15pm to 5:00pm, before the four-day sporting celebration closes with an aerial display of Spitfires.
Listening to the America’s Cup
Local Portsmouth radio station Express FM have teamed up with Airwaves Media to bring live radio coverage of the America’s Cup World Series events to their 93.7FM frequency, including essential traffic and travel information, safety messages for all boating spectators, interviews with the teams, and a live commentary which will be broadcast locally and streamed globally.
Steve Ancsell, Managing Director of Airwaves, has lots of experience with covering such huge events on the radio medium. He regularly covers and commentates on Olympic and World Cup sailing, has run Cowes Week Radio for 30 years, and is an experienced producer and video director for past America’s Cup World Series races.
He said: “This is an opportunity to bring coverage of this America’s Cup foiling-style sailing to my old hometown where I discovered sailing as a kid. I’m really excited to be involved in this ground- breaking event in Portsmouth.
“And I’m also glad to team up with top broadcaster and journalist Matt Sheahan who’ll be out on the commentary boat bringing unique insights and explanations of these flying machines.”
Express FM Station Director Cheryl Buggy added: “With thousands of spectators expected to arrive in the city to watch the exciting events on the water and on [Southsea] Common, it’s essential to let them know any important travel and traffic news, where to park, and what to expect.
“So we are really delighted to be able to offer our airwaves to ensure that important service to visitors and residents alike is on offer, as well as interviews with the movers and shakers of the sailing world and actual live race coverage from the water.”
Express FM will begin broadcasting the America’s Cup World Series coverage from the morning of Thursday 23rd July, the first day of the ACWS proceedings.
The local station’s coverage of Portsmouth Football Club’s game on the evening of Friday 25th July will not be affected.
Tune in to Express on 93.7FM or through the station’s web player »
Road and footpath closures
The America’s Cup World Series events will see a number of footpaths and one road closed. Bear these closures in mind when making your travel and viewing arrangements for the four days.
The road closure is on Clarence Esplanade from Pier Road to Avenue de Caen from Thursday 23rd to 8:00pm on Monday 27th July, whilst the footpath closures are as follows:
- Serpentine Road: Monday 13th to Friday 31st July
- The Promenade from the Hovertravel station to the east of Southsea Castle: Thursday 23rd to Monday 27th July
- Brian Kidd Way footpath between Avenue de Caen and Southsea Castle: Thursday 23rd to Monday 27th July
- Path through Southsea Common from Clarence Parade to the Hovertravel station: Thursday 23rd to Monday 27th July
- Ladies Mile footpath and cycle path from Clarence Parade to Avenue de Caen: Thursday 23rd to Monday 27th July