2018 Volvo Ocean Race Breezes into Newport

Newport has long since been known as the sailing capital of North America. The city gained notoriety around the mid-1800s when it became the vacation destination for many of the country’s most prestigious citizens. Along with their mansions, these 19th century millionaires brought with them a high-class sailing tradition. Narragansett Bay has been hotbed for sailing ever since, even acting as host of the prestigious America’s Cup for decades — so it’s no surprise it was chosen to host the world-renowned Volvo Ocean Race.

The seven teams of the Volvo Ocean Race docked in Newport on May 8th and will stay in port until the 20th. The race covers over 45,000 nautical miles, crosses 4 oceans, touches 6 continents and docks in 12 cities around the globe. The race takes nearly 9 months to complete and features some of the greatest sailors in the world, many of whom have also raced in past Olympics and America’s Cup competitions. When the sailors are in port they participate in in-port sailing competitions, and there are other crowd-pleasing events to entertain all who come by the racing village.

Newport has the honor of being the only North American city to host the race. Newport hosted the event back in 2015 and it was extremely successful for both the race and the city. The race has decided to come back to Newport for another year, citing both the success of the last race and Newport’s rich sailing history as reasons for the decision. During the last stopover in 2015, over 130,000 people visited the race village, which made it one of the most attended stopovers in any North American city since the race began in 1973.  

The crowd levels were already very high on just the second day of port and are expected to be even bigger for the in-port races which will take place later on. The crowd was very diverse and seemed to be a good mix of locals and tourists. One person in attendance described the crowd by saying, “It seemed like people came from all over, everyone was having a good time.”

The boats are docked at Fort Adams State Park, where spectators can come and look at each racing vessel, as well as stand in awe of the United States Coast Guard Eagle, docked across from the racing vessels. The Eagle came to port when the race village opened and is one of only two Coast Guard-commissioned sailing vessels. A football field long and 15 stories high, Eagle dwarfed the more slender and aerodynamic racing ships and caught the attention of everybody in attendance.

As well as providing a great vantage point for marveling at sailing vessels, Fort Adams offers many exciting experiences for the large crowd of spectators. As you enter the concourse, you are greeted by a row of trucks from each team in the race. The teams sell merchandise to gain support and attendees are treated to an up-close and personal look at the sailors and the experiences they have gained on the water.

The village holds many interactive exhibits such as a cut-out sailing vessel that shows how the sailors live for the duration of the race. The top deck is open for you to climb up and get a feel for what it’s like to operate the vessel and sail across the world. If you are intrigued enough by the display, you can go outside and try the real thing. They offer lessons to allow anyone to get on the water and set sail.

There is a large, globe-shaped building where spectators can get a visual display of the race map and the course the sailors take around the world. You can see the other port cities and immerse yourself in other cultures.  

The rest of the village is filled with all kinds of other festivities. Live music and entertainment, food vendors, cornhole and plenty of beer await as you go deeper inside Fort Adams. Heineken sponsors an outside tent where people can grab a drink and hang out. If you’re not much of a beer fan, Whispering Angel Wine and Mount Gay Rum are also on site to supply any of-age customers with a beverage. The assortment of activities offers something for everyone to enjoy. One of the many people who went to Newport on the event’s opening was pleased with the time they had,  “I enjoyed it, it was fun and had a lot of good vibes. It was pretty cool.” The waterfront scene in Newport is always an exciting time and hosting the Volvo Ocean Race is a reminder of Newport’s sailing legacy.

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