Ocean race to be tourism blockbuster

Published on : Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ocean raceSailing officials from six continents came together in Newport this week to plan for next year’s Volvo Ocean Race, a nine-month, 10-port circumnavigation that features Rhode Island’s city-by-the-sea as its only North American stop.


Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee on Tuesday welcomed the race organizers to the conference, which is designed to help the 10 host cities plan for the event. The race gets underway in October 2014 in Alicante, Spain, concluding in Gothenburg, Sweden.



Newport’s stopover is scheduled Chafee stated that the event would generate tourism in Rhode Island and give the state international exposure, similar to last year’s America’s Cup World Series regatta, which drew 65,000 people to Newport and generated more than $50 million in economic activity.


Newport vied with Baltimore to host the stopover. The teams are expected to spend several days in Newport while also competing in a local race. Organizers said key portions of the race will be televised internationally.


‘‘This race sells itself,’’ said Brad Read, director of Sail Newport, which vied for the event. ‘‘It’s fascinating not just for sailors, but for people interested in nature, interested in extreme sports.’’


Along the 45,000-mile race course the teams will also make stops in Cape Town, South Africa; the United Arab Emirates; China; Auckland, New Zealand; Brazil; Portugal; and France.


As many as eight teams of several sailors will compete in 65-foot boats specially designed for the race. Each boat will be identical, according to Knut Frostad, the race’s CEO.


‘‘We want the race to be between people and not machines,’’ Frostad said. ‘‘It’s not about one kind of boat against another kind of boat.’’


The race has been held every three or four years since the inaugural event in 1973. Over the years Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Boston have all hosted stopovers. This will be the first time Newport has hosted the event, but Frostad said the sailing community is well acquainted with the city’s role in international sailing competitions. Newport hosted the America’s Cup for decades until 1983.


‘‘From a sailor point of view, we are coming home,’’ he said.

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