The Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) boats had arrived in Newport between May 6th and May 7th with one of the closest finishes in race history. After over 5,000 miles, Dongfeng and Abu Dubai finished just three and a half minutes or a couple hundred meters apart to take 1st and 2nd respectively. With the winds so light near the finish line, crew were even sent up the masts to pop or push the battens in the sail to the other side with each turn.
The excitement in Newport, RI was palatable. In just the first few days more than 40,000 people had visited the Race Village set up at Fort Adams, taking in their first look at the Volvo Ocean Race boats and visiting the team and sponsor pavilions. It was the only North American stopover of this iconic ocean race, and the first time the VOR boats visited Newport, RI, the historic sailing capital of the U.S.
We arrived on Monday evening after a 21 hour sail (actually motor) through thick fog and no wind. Although I was tired from the trip, it was exciting to pass the VOR 65 boats as we headed to our dock for the week. Over the following few days, I spent time at the Race Village and was quite impressed with the energy that was there. Various teams had pavilions set up to highlight their sponsor’s activities and ecological efforts. There were numerous activities for the public including youth sail races, high performance sailing exhibitions, and of course the iconic America’s Cup 12 meter boats. There were also concerts, films, opportunities to meet the sailing teams and other fun activities. All in all fun-filled and entertaining! Suntex Racing was also well represented in Newport and at the Race Village.
But, lets not forget the racing! It was great to be able to take Sedna out on the water and see the in-port race right near the starting line. We were even picked up by the film crew with Sedna being seen on the VOR in-port video (bottom left on the photo). Watching these Volvo 65 race boats accelerate out of the start and head to Castle Hill was thrilling. For the actual race start from Newport to Lisbon, Portugal, we were again out on Sedna watching the action from the water unfold, while Paul Donato and Bjoern Kils from NY Media Boat were out on Paul’s plane taking some great action shots from the air. We were able to get some great photos which were followed and liked by among others, Volvo and Gaastra two of the key sponsors. By the time the boats left on their race to Lisbon, more than 125,000 people had visited the Race Village.
All too soon, it was time to head back home for a ‘quick’ ocean sail to Liberty Landing Marina. The evening started out with clear skies and it was a nice treat to see the International Space Station (ISS) quickly cross the night sky over us. To think that the Volvo Ocean Race takes eight months to sail around the world (with stops at various ports), yet the ISS circumnavigates the earth in only 90 minutes! That is a study in contrasts.
Rounding Block Island, the clouds rolled in followed by fog, and again it was a sail back with radar and AIS as our best friends. At least the wind picked up on the last third of the sail and we had a great spinnaker run back to New York Harbor and home.
Now that I’m back home, it’s time to prepare for the Annapolis Newport Race which starts on June 4th.