Tomorrow afternoon the fleet of seven yachts sets off on a trans-Atlantic race bound for Cardiff, Wales, on the third-to-last leg of the globe-girdling race. The race then visits Gothenburg, Sweden, before finishing in The Hague, Netherlands, on June 30. The fleet arrived in Newport on May 8, concluding a 15-day leg that began in South America.
Today the fleet took part in the Gurney’s Resorts In-Port Race, sponsored by Gurney’s Resorts of Newport and Long Island, N.Y. A hearty crowd numbering in the thousands turned out for the race despite a light rain throughout the afternoon.
Team Brunel of the Netherlands, skippered by eight-time race veteran Bouwe Bekking and helmed by America’s Cup winner Peter Burling of New Zealand, posted a wire-to-wire win. An easterly wind meant the fleet sailed reaching angles around the racecourse and placed an emphasis on a good start.
“We knew the start was going to be critical,” said the 27-year-old Burling. “We came off the line in good shape and were able to sail clean the rest of the race and that made our life pretty easy.”
Overall race leader MAPFRE of Spain, skippered by Xabi Fernandez, finished second and local favorite Vestas 11th Hour Racing, skippered by Charlie Enright of Bristol, R.I., placed third.
After the race Sail Newport Executive Director Brad Read and stopover director Susan Maffei-Plowden were presented the Platinum Level Clean Regattas Certification from Sailors for the Sea. The Platinum Level certification is the highest possible certification awarded in the Clean Regattas program, with a 62-point best management practices checklist. The Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover also received Platinum Level certification in 2015.
The Leg Start to Cardiff is the highlight of tomorrow’s activities. The sailors will participate in the Dock Out show beginning around 12 p.m. and will include fanfare, blessing of the fleet and the passing of the flag from Newport to representatives from Cardiff. After the Leg Start at 2 p.m. the fleet will sail a lap around East Passage that includes mark roundings off Castle Hill, Goat Island and north of the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge before heading out to sea.
The Leg Start is not the only item on the schedule. Sail Newport, Rhode Island’s public sailing center, will again offer Try Sailing!, where its staff of experienced sailors take all ages for an 20-minute sail on a 22-foot long J/22 sailboat. The Kids’ Playground on the Parade Field of Fort Adams offers safe entertainment for young children.
Regular attractions include the One Ocean Exploration Zone, presented by 11th Hour Racing, the Akzo Nobel Boat Experience, and the Globe theater, which features a 25-minute film of the Volvo Ocean Race. There are also food and beverage concession stands.