As if you were sailing. The AC Experience comes to Port Vell

Barcelona, Port of Barcelona, former home of the IMAX, about to be transformed into the AMERICA'S CUP EXPERIENCE.

We are with Eric Ordóñez, one of the people in charge of the project. Rarely have we had an event of the magnitude of the America’s Cup (AC) so close to Barceloneta, and we could say, in the whole area near the Port.

Barcelona has been the city chosen for its 37th edition. The most important competition in the world linked to nautical sports.



Enric, how do you face the challenge of managing a space aimed at the general public about the third most watched sporting event in the world, after the Olympics and the World Cup?

The project was created with the intention of making people aware of this event, because it is not as well known in Europe as it is in other parts of the world. And we don’t know the audience that will watch Barcelona and the competition. It is an opportunity that we take with enthusiasm as part of a project that we haven’t had since the 1992 Olympic Games. 


One of the main objectives of the AC is to show its 150 years of competition to the public. How would you invite people who are not very familiar with the sailing world to visit the AC Experience? 


We want to make the AC and the Nautical world more democratic. We have designed an official Dissemination Centre for the competition. We are looking for a way to show it in a different and attractive way, with immersive spaces, large format videos, virtual reality simulators, etc. So that it is easy for everyone to find out how the competition works and more. And, at the same time, those who already have a relationship with nautical sports can go even deeper.


Is sailing in such a Mediterranean and seafaring city the eternal unknown? 

Not so much. Many people will be surprised to discover the great nautical tradition of the city. But we are aware that if the AC had not landed here, as we have no competing team, it would not be such a well-known event. Let’s remember that only one edition has been held in Europe, in Valencia. And we have learned from that experience that we can do things in a very different way in Barcelona.

Is sailing reserved for the elite these days?
Not today. The Sailing Federation has been working for years to open up sailing to the whole community. Just take a look at the activity of many clubs along the Catalan coastline, with hundreds of athletes of all ages and social status.
It is clear that few have the resources to own a boat, but to make a comparison, it is the same with F1. 
Owning a team or competing is reserved for the few. But the public following and audience is brutal and growing day by day. The equipment you need to go skiing is more expensive than the one you need to sail, and nobody nowadays labels it as elitist. We want to bring people closer to the practice, to sailing.
What is more, this edition includes a presence of youth regattas and a female one. Do you think it would be the contribution of the Barcelonian character that will remain for future editions in other parts of the world? And how can we make the youth or children come closer and have more interest in their continued participation in sports related to sailing?
We want this edition to be available for everyone. And with the Barcelona “brand”, as a pioneering city in many areas, we want to leave our mark on the competition for those who follow it.
And now we have a team from here, with national captains for young people and women. Our intention is to get “fans” of sailing!
And how could we involve the whole Barcelona ecosystem more in an event like this? And, on the other hand, how can we make the AC more connected to the city and, in particular, to the nature of the neighbourhoods closest to the Port?
We have involved all the public bodies, but we know that it will not produce results in the short term, although little by little the neighbourhoods are getting involved. Obviously, Barceloneta is the one with the strongest roots and links to the sea. We are open to receiving and developing actions that democratically allow this sporting activity to be accessible to everyone.
We must succeed in generating a new seafaring tradition.
Will the AC bring new lines of training and companies that will settle in areas such as La Barceloneta on a permanent basis, with activities and trades related to the sea and the nautical sector back to Barcelona?
Yes, it is understood as a city objective. Let’s hope that this is the case thanks to the ecosystem created around the competition, allowing everyone to benefit: local commerce, industry, employment, training, and services, either directly or indirectly.
If all parties, public and private, get involved, we can be the benchmark city for sailing beyond our territory.
We, as part of AC, are the main actors, but not the only ones.
We already have some local social actors like Barcelona City Council, Barcelona Activa, Disseny Hub or Barcelona Tourism, and obviously the Port of Barcelona, involved. Who else can we expect to be an active part of it?
These are the bodies that have helped us to get the project off the ground, as was logical. But from now on, we have to reach out to all the necessary levels and bring what will be done here closer to more neighbourhoods: sailing schools, federations, nearby and not so nearby municipalities… to rediscover our seafaring tradition, which perhaps we haven’t taken as much care of as it deserves. An anecdote: a few days ago, an older man walking around (Imax building site) asked us what we were doing. And he offered to explain to the young people from the schools who came to visit the AC Experience how his fishermen grandfathers practised sports on the Barceloneta beach, and we took good note. This is what we want, that is exactly what we tell the protagonists of the privileged place where we are.
Have the entities that are closest to Port been taken into account when seeking different opinions and have they been invited into the decision-making process and offer them collaboration? In other words, what return or benefit will be left as a legacy in neighbourhoods such as La Barceloneta?
We cannot forget that we are talking about the AC, which is a sporting competition with its management. But they are the first ones who want everyone to be satisfied with the success and the image of the event, as well as the neighbourhood and the city that hosts them.
What we set in motion should have an immediate return to schools, organisations, local businesses and citizens.
We do not speak of overcrowding of visitors, we believe that we will attract more people from neighbourhoods and nearby towns, in proportion. And those who come from outside, we think, will be people who love sailing and who have a small boat or a zodiac, rather than large yacht owners.
Let it be known that the technicians in the work, in the design and in the technology are all from Barcelona… well, except for one who is from Vic!
Everything points to the AC being a competition that will position Barcelona as a benchmark for large-scale sporting events and once again make us feel proud of the city.
We will present an innovative Barcelona and reinforce the image of a powerful technological territory through all available media. We will take advantage of the media power of the AC to show that Barcelona is a leader in many disciplines.
The AC Experience is expected to be a state-of-the-art technology space, could it be continued beyond AC2024?
Hehe! Continuity does not depend on us. However, technologically, both what we show and what we explain is clearly cutting-edge. We have designed a transgressive space of exceptional power and which, moreover, we believe achieves the challenge of dissemination that we had set ourselves.
The AC is nautical competition, it is technology, it is sustainability and many more things that we will explain. You will have to come and see it!
Finally, we won’t put you under the obligation to tell us who you think will win the 37th edition of the AC, but do you think it’s crazy to think of a Barcelona team in the AC in the future?
Hehehe! I don’t know who will win, but there are betting pools. As you know, the venue for the next edition is chosen by the winner of the competition. And if Barcelona is chosen again, the next day we’ll be thinking about how to improve the experience even more.
And why not have a team of our own! It would be the way to get more social players to think about getting involved and investing in the territory.
Well, Enric, we are still months away from the AC, but we hope to see the new developments that the AC Experience will surely be able to present to us soon.
Cheers and have a good trip!
Com si naveguessis. L’AC Experience arriba al Port Vell

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