Wednesday, 6 July 2011

America's Cup : Spotlight on Cascais

Cascais Bay. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/

by America's Cup media

The spotlight will be on the waters off Cascais this summer, when America’s Cup teams from eight countries will compete in the inaugural America’s Cup World Series event between 6 and 14 August.

Located on the Estoril Coast, this fashionable seaside resort was selected not only for its prestige, which reflects that of the America’s Cup, but also because it will “bring the action on the water to those on land,” as described by Richard Worth, Chairman of the America’s Cup Event Authority.

The beautiful natural setting of Cascais will allow fans to watch the 10 AC45s challenging one another in both Match and Fleet race formats, from positions on the coastline. The matches will be visible from praia dos Pescadores, praia da Ribeira, praia da Rainha and praia da Conceição, just a step from the city’s charming centre, and the Marina will also offer a spectacular view.

According to Cascais’ Mayor, Carlos Carreiras: “We have the best sailing courses in the world. We have unique organization skills and an incomparable tradition of hosting. We have all this. Therefore, we are thrilled and proud to receive an event where we will be hosting the best of the best: the best sailing fans, the best boats, the best sailors and the unequal prestige of the America’s Cup World Series.”

Sailing has been a traditional activity off the Estoril Coast; Cascais hosts annually several World and European yachting championships, such as the ISAF worlds in 2007 which gathered all the Olympic classes, and the recent 2011 AudiMedCup, proved once again the city’s outstanding organization ability.

In addition to sailing, the area also offers a surprising mixture of natural beauty, history, culture, thrilling adventures and fun.

Since the end of the 19th century, when King Luís II decided to turn the citadel into the royal family’s summer residence, Cascais has grown from being a simple fishing village into a world-renowned tourist destination that attracts millions of visitors every year.

So, what to do or visit in the area before or after watching the AC45s in fierce competition on the waters off Cascais?

Due to its perfect sea and weather conditions, watersports, such as surfing, wind surfing, fishing, kite surfing and speed boating are popular and highly recommended.

Following the coastline, the region’s extraordinary attractions extend from Praia do Carcavelos to the Tejo falls, to the Praia do Guincho in the North West, where the gentleness of the Cascais’ bay, contrasts with the force of the ocean.

Embracing Cascais like a fortress is the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Landscape thanks to its rich biodiversity and wide range of landscapes. Ecotourism activities including horse riding, biking, hiking are some of the options, or, for the more adventurous, extreme sports such as paragliding, hang gliding, climbing and mountain biking could be a source of adrenaline.

The sport selection goes on: designed by world-renowned architects, the seven golf courses on the Estoril Coast provide a wide range of challenges and the mild climate conditions make them a good option all year round. As well there are numerous
clubs and high quality tennis courts. (Every spring, Estoril hosts the ATP Tour tournament ‘Estoril Open’, the FIA F1 Portugal Grand Prix and a number of national and international motorcycling events.)

Whatever the purpose of the visit, everything on the Estoril Coast is within just a 30 minute drive, including Lisbon, one of the most culturally lively European capitals.

Cascais’ fascinating historic centre features a 16th-century fortress, many aristocratic villas built in the 19th and 20th century, an art and a sea museum as well as stylish boutiques and restaurants on the characteristic cobble streets.

Night life is vibrant on the Estoril Coast: music festivals, theatre shows, clubs, bars and the Estoril Casino, one of Europe’s biggest, ensure the area’s popularity.

From a 19th century royal residence Cascais has become a cosmopolitan centre that while preserving its sophisticated atmosphere, constantly renews itself with novelties, enthralling world-class events and will be on the international stage once again with the first ever America’s Cup World Series.

America's Cup