The Ocean Race Has Arrived in Newport. Here’s What You Need to Know.
The race around the world will mark its Newport stopover with viewing opportunities, music, a special film screening and more.
The Ocean Race, the 32,000 nautical mile, round-the-world sailing race often hailed as one of the toughest athletic events in the world, arrived in Newport on Wednesday, May 10. The boats mark their fifth stopover before departing for Denmark on Sunday, May 21.
The 11th Hour Racing Team, Newport’s hometown team, had a victorious finish to leg four when they pulled into Newport Harbor just before 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Team Malizia finished in a close second, while team Biotherm followed in third. The teams are fresh off a grueling few days of sailing that left one boat without a mast following a storm in the north Atlantic Monday night.
The arrival of the boats in Newport kicks off a week of activities and exhibition as the teams rest up for their next leg. Beginning on Saturday, May 13, Fort Adams State Park will play host to the Ocean Live Park, where families and race enthusiasts can visit to hear live music, learn about the race and the environmental factors at play, sample food trucks and watch the boats sailing offshore. The events culminate the following weekend, when the teams will take part in an in-port race on Saturday followed by their departure on Sunday.
The Newport stopover is co-hosted by Sail Newport, 11th Hour Racing and the state of Rhode Island and is the only North American stopover on the six-month-long race. The last time Newport hosted the Ocean Race in 2018, an estimated 110,000 people visited the race village to participate in the festivities. Combined with the 2015 stopover, the race has brought 257,000 spectators to Newport in the past eight years. According to Evan Smith, president of Discover Newport, this year’s stopover is expected to attract more than 100,000 people and generate up to $47 million in economic impact.
“We’re bringing the best of the best in the world of sailing, and so for those that follow sailing and are sailing enthusiasts, and even for those that aren’t but like to have a good time, then this is a wonderful opportunity to get out to beautiful Fort Adams,” he says.
Smith says a highlight of the 2018 stopover was the boats’ departure on the final day, when rainy weather gave way to sun just in time for the crowds to wave them off. The Newport stopover offers a unique opportunity to get an up-close look at the race with Fort Adams State Park adjacent to Narragansett Bay.
“When you talk about sailing, Narragansett Bay is one of the best stadiums there is,” he says. “If you want to watch sailing, it doesn’t get much better than Narragansett Bay and the perspective from Fort Adams. We’re very lucky to have a natural resource like Narragansett Bay, an arena if you will.”
Whether you’re a longtime Ocean Race follower or new to the sailing scene, here’s everything you need to know to join in the fun in Rhode Island.
Where can I watch the Ocean Race?
Your best bet for seeing the boats from land is at Fort Adams State Park, where the Ocean Live Park will have additional activities beginning on Saturday, May 13. The first boat arrived in Newport from the previous stopover in Itajaí, Brazil, on Wednesday, May 10. On Saturday, May 20, there will be an in-port race at 2 p.m., followed by the departure of the boast on Sunday at 2 p.m.
For a closer look, the Rhode Island Fast Ferry is offering a spectator boat for the in-port race and the departure on the next leg. Tickets for the spectator boat are $150 per person and include four hours of cruising and on-board commentary. There is a cash bar onboard, and guests are welcome to bring their own food.
What kinds of activities are at Ocean Live Park?
Along with an up-close look at the boats, Ocean Live Park is packed with activities for families and spectators to enjoy. Visitors can try sailing with Sail Newport, visit the team bases to interact with crew members, enjoy games and crafts, sample food and alcoholic beverages, listen to live music and grab Ocean Race swag from the Helly Hansen store. Visitors can also check out the One Blue Voice Immersive Experience, a multi-sensory exhibit presented by 11th Hour Racing that gives participants an inside look at the offshore race and educates visitors about the ocean and what we can do to protect it.
For a full schedule of daily events, visit the Ocean Race website.
Is there a cost?
Admission to Ocean Live Park is free. There is a $25 fee to park at Fort Adams State Park during the Ocean Race ($20 on May 15 and 16). Parking passes can be purchased online here. You can also take the boat shuttle from Perrotti Park in downtown Newport to Fort Adams for $5 each way.
Are there any sailors from Rhode Island?
Yes! Newport’s hometown team, 11th Hour Racing, is skippered by Charlie Enright, a Bristol native who grew up sailing on Narragansett Bay and previously sailed for Brown University. The team also includes Amory Ross, a Newport resident who serves as the onboard reporter, meaning he produces photos and videos but does not participate in sailing the boat except in emergencies. The crew for this leg also includes Simon Fisher from the United Kingdom, Francesca Clapcich from Italy and Damian Foxall from Ireland.
How does the environment fit into all this?
The Newport stopover is co-hosted by 11th Hour Racing, an organization that uses sailing as a platform to advocate for the environment. As such, the Newport stopover features many opportunities to learn about the dangers facing the ocean and what people, from sailing enthusiasts to everyday residents of planet Earth, can do to protect it. The One Blue Voice Immersive Experience is a multi-sensory show that gives visitors a chance to virtually experience sailing on an IMOCA 60 (the boats used during the Ocean Race) before diving underwater to learn about how the ocean protects us. On Sunday, May 14, newportFILM and 11th Hour Racing will host a screening of Shaped by Water, described as the team’s “love letter to the ocean,” at 5 p.m. in Ocean Live Park. Visitors will also have an opportunity to sign the global petition for a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights to be presented to the UN General Assembly in September 2023. You can read more about the Ocean Race’s efforts at creating a sustainable sporting event here.
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