Royal Navy secures seas for Solent showdown

This weekend, six teams from around the world will sail into the Solent to compete in the America’s Cup World Series 2016 – the world’s oldest international sporting trophy – supported by the Royal Navy.

The prestigious sailing event is being held just off the coast of Portsmouth, a city that has been a home to Royal Navy warships for hundreds of years, and will culminate in an exciting final on Sunday. 

HMS Kent will act as Guard Ship and anchor in the Solent on Saturday, providing an impressive and photogenic backdrop to the America’s Cup Race Series. Commanding Officer of HMS Kent, Commander Daniel Thomas and his Ship’s Company will be keeping a watchful eye over the America’s Cup race proceedings, andhis ship will be visible from the race area on Saturday 23 July. 

Patrol ship HMS Severn will also be anchoring in the Solent on Saturday, commanded by Lieutenant Commander James Reynolds. 

Two Royal Navy P2000 class Patrol vessels from the First Patrol Boat Squadron, HMS Blazer and HMS Ranger, are supporting this year’s Race series. 

They will work closely with the Queen’s Harbour Master, Captain Steve Hopper, who has been particularly busy this month preparing a safe, restricted water space for the racing to operate within while also maintaining the regular business of commercial and naval traffic into the Solent and this busy harbour. 

HMS Blazer and HMS Ranger will also assist the America’s Cup World Series race marshalling and acting as a control boat out on the water during the event.

We are an island nation and the Royal Navy continues to be at the heart of protecting and promoting our prosperity on the high seas, so, of course, we have been doing everything we can to help bring this exciting maritime competition to the spiritual home of the Royal Navy.

Commodore Jeremy Rigby

Phil Kennard a former Olympic Squad Sailor, who is now the BAR Landrover Commercial manager said: “I’ve spent many happy summers sailing Bosun dinghies out of HMS Excellent, driving P2000s around the Solent – it was a fantastic experience, I loved every minute of it and it was the start of a lifelong love of the water”

He added: “This event could not be put on without the support of the Royal Navy, providing jetty space where the boats are actually stored down in the Naval dockyard, where all the teams are putting their boats together at the team bases and where they are craning them into the water, through to providing the support out on the water, the security needed to make sure this event goes off without a hitch. 

"We really could not do this without the help of the Royal Navy.”

Portsmouth’s Naval Base Commander Commodore Jeremy Rigby said: “We are an island nation and the Royal Navy continues to be at the heart of protecting and promoting our prosperity on the high seas, so, of course, we have been doing everything we can to help bring this exciting maritime competition to the spiritual home of the Royal Navy. 

“As well as providing berthing and technical facilities in the Naval Base, the Navy’s Queen’s Harbour Master has been instrumental in clearing a safe race course for the event.”

Playing a central role in the arrival of the America’s Cup from the sea to the shore at Southsea seafront on Saturday morning will be Royal Marines manning the landing craft operated by 1 Assault Group Royal Marines (1AGRM) from RM Tamar based in Devonport, near Plymouth.

On Saturday 23 July Royal Marine Sergeant Darran Donovan is taking charge of the Royal Marines’ vessel escorting the delivery of prestigious silver America’s Cup ashore and transporting VIPs from the Naval Base to Southsea’s seafront in a Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel – or LCVP for short.

As well as the support on the water, sailors and Royal Marines will be mingling with the public part of the nearby Race Village on Southsea Common; they will demonstrate various capabilities. 

The Royal Navy team helping build a new University Technical College in Hilsea will also be present to show their plans to help train the next generation of engineers for British Industry.