The first week of the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover has attracted more than 40,000 visitors to the Race Village at Fort Adams State Park. Newport is hosting the only North American stopover of the global race for the second consecutive edition and in 2015 the stopover attracted more than 131,000 fans in total.
The excitement at the Race Village was started on May 8 when the closest finish in the Race to date was recorded off of Fort Adams State Park. In the early morning hours, Spanish entry MAPFRE, the overall race leader, defeated Team Brunel of the Netherlands by just 61 seconds in what is the fifth closest finish in the 45-year history of the race.
“Newport is a special stopover for the sailors because it is such a sailing-oriented town,” said Susan Maffei-Plowden, the director of the stopover. “Three years ago, the number of race fans floored the sailors with attention and knowledge of the sport. We’re off to a similar start this year and invite everyone to visit the Race Village. With so much going on, there’s something to capture everyone’s attention.”
The week ahead has no shortage of activities planned. Admission to the Race Village and all exhibits is free to all ages. The Race Village is open 11:00 am to 7:00 pm Tuesday and Wednesday, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday.
Daily activities include “Try Sailing!” where an experienced Sail Newport helmsman will take guests of all ages sailing in a J/22. A highlight of tomorrow’s schedule includes the MetLife Veterans Regatta, from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm. The regatta will pair veterans and active duty service members with Volvo Ocean Race pro sailors for racing between Rose and Goat islands outside of Newport Harbor.
Highlights of the Race Village include the One Ocean Exploration Zone, presented by 11th Hour Racing. An educational destination offering hands-on opportunities to discover ocean science and the environment, the One Ocean Exploration Zone features an array of exhibits from interactive displays to experiments with micro-organisms, hydrobotics and coastal sustainability designed to fascinate school children to grandparents alike.
The Race Boat Experience features a full-size half hull of a VO65 race boat cut in half. It provides a unique insight to the spartan living conditions aboard a stripped-out race boat and the opportunity for visitors to stand at the helm. The Globe theater will feature 15-minute movies about the Volvo Ocean Race and ocean health.
Aside from the many shoreside activities are five days of sailing on Narragansett Bay by the VO65 and M32 pro sailors. Much of the action will take place in the East Passage, between Fort Adams and Castle Hill. The North Lawn of Fort Adams is a great vantage point for fans and amateur photographers who want to watch professional crews completing tacks, gybes and sail changes. All on-the-water action will be accompanied by live commentary through a public address system with simultaneous coverage on the outdoor giant screen.
Schedule highlights include:
· Wednesday, May 17, 2:00 pm: Practice Sessions, within yards of the shoreline
· Thursday, May 18, 2:00 pm: Pro-Am Racing,
· Saturday, May 19, 2:00 pm: Gurney’s Resorts In-Port Race (approximately one hour in duration) followed by public prize-giving ceremony (approximately 60 minutes after racing)
· Sunday, May 20, 2:00 pm: Leg 9 Start to Cardiff, Wales
~ Tickets are still available for a hospitality experience in the Ocean Race Club to watch the race start on May 20 from the comfort of a waterfront tent with gourmet food and cocktails
The Gurney’s Resorts In-Port Race and Leg 9 Start each will be preceded by a Dock Out show beginning at 12:00 pm adjacent to where the race boats are when the crews will be introduced and the skippers will address the crowds. Ceremonial fanfare and entertainment will accompany both Dock Out shows on Saturday and Sunday.
The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race officially resumes on Sunday with the start of Leg 9, a 3,300-nautical mile passage across the North Atlantic Ocean to Cardiff, Wales. The leg is estimated to last 10 days, and will be a fierce battle as the top two boats are only separated by a few points and the trans-Atlantic leg is worth double points.
Other highlights of the Race Village include:
- Interactive team bases open to the public
- The Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard services all of the race boats for maintenance and sail repair
- Experience what it’s like to grind a winch with the Musto Grinding Challenge
- Newport Film shorts, all about the ocean
- Free Kids Zone with lawn games, mini-golf and obstacle courses
- Dock Party Stage features concerts on Wednesday and Friday evenings, 4-7pm
- Water taxis available from downtown Newport and Jamestown
- Heineken Light Beer Garden, Whispering Angel Rose Cafe and the Mount Gay Rum Bar offer adult beverages
- ·A $10 or $20 parking fee applies at Fort Adams to help offset the expense of hosting this international event