When the 50th Anniversary edition of The Ocean Race reaches the United States in May, the sailing-centric community in Newport, Rhode Island will be out in force to greet Rhode Islander Charlie Enright’s 11th Hour Racing Team and the rest of the IMOCA 60 fleet.
“One of my proudest moments came in 2015, the first time we hosted the race,” says Brad Read, Executive Director of Sail Newport. “Thousands of fans waited at Fort Adams State Park through the night for the arrival of the race boats.”
Ocean Live Park: Fan Experience & Education
This year, for the third time, Sail Newport will host The Ocean Race, a massive undertaking that fits the organization’s mission to attract international events and give the public access to sailing. The centerpiece of the fan experience throughout the nine-day festival will be Ocean Live Park, established on the north end of Fort Adams State Park.
Racing will take place off the shoreline of the Ocean Live Park. The fastest boats are expected to arrive between May 10 and 12, as the finish line is located just inside Newport Harbor. The Pro-Am Racing will be held close to shore on May 17 and 18. The Newport In-Port Race is May 20, and the Start of Leg 5 to Aarhus, Denmark is on May 21. While the race boats are on the water, sailing experts will broadcast narration of the action to the Race Village speakers and hospitality tents. If Newport delivers her famous seabreeze, the guys and gals on the foiling IMOCAs are going to put on quite a show. Other highlights of the Ocean Live Park include:
Team Bases This is an opportunity to learn about the international teams.
The One Blue Voice Immersive Experience Presented by 11th Hour Racing, this multi-sensory holographic show takes visitors to sea on an IMOCA 60 and deep into the ocean to learn what it does for us.
The Exploration Zone features a multitude of interactive exhibits on the ocean, marine life, sustainability, stewardship, and sailing.
Try Sailing Sail Newport hosts free sailing experiences on their fleet of J/22s for all ages.
Food, Live entertainment and music, and cocktail cafes
Genoa Visit an exhibit welcoming all to the race’s finish port in Italy, and watch a pesto contest in the making.
Official Helly Hansen Store Shop for polos, t-shirts, jackets and backpacks in your favorite team’s apparel or The Ocean Race brand.
Sailor Parade and Other Special Events
Check the schedule at theoceanracenewport.com for daily events.
The Ocean Live Park will be a fun destination for folks ranging from casual Newport visitors to fanatical sailors, and will also serve as an educational hub for students throughout southern New England. School groups can make reservations for guided tours of the Ocean Live Park, get a close view of the racing boats, and visit the 11th Hour Racing One Blue Voice pavilion to experience a virtual ride on an IMOCA 60 while learning about plastic pollution, the health of the oceans, and what they can do.
© Ro Fernanndez/Sail Newport
Also, students will learn about the ocean and the importance of ocean literacy in interactive Exploration Zone. Some groups will be able to experience sailing on a Sail Newport J/22. “We hope to inspire visitors with the beauty and excitement of sailing, and the importance of keeping our ocean clean and thriving with life,” Read adds.
The Ocean Race Overall Leaderboard (after Leg 2)
1. Holcim-PRB 10 points
2. 11th Hour Racing Team 7
3. Biotherm Racing 6
4. Team Malizia 5
5. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe 2
1. Windwhisper Racing Team 6 points
2. Team JAJO 5
3. Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova 4
4. Ambersail 2 3
5. Viva México 2
6. Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team 0
For more information, visit theoceanrace.com. ■
Sean McNeill and Sail Newport Marketing Director Kim Cooper contributed to this report.