It was the evening of May 6, 2015, and the Volvo Ocean Race was coming to town—eventually. As the sun went down over a placid Atlantic, Chinese-flagged Dongfeng and eventual overall race winner Abu Dhabi were locked in battle, chasing zephyrs literally a stone’s throw away from one another as they fought for the Leg 6 win.
Meanwhile, out on Fort Adams, in Newport, Rhode Island, directly across from the finish out on Narragansett Bay, thousands waited. Darkness fell, and still, they waited—right up until Dongfeng crossed the line just three minutes ahead of its rival after 5,000 miles of racing from Itajaí, Brazil.
Not only that, but many in both the crowd on shore and in the spectator fleet out 0n the bay also stayed up right through until around 0330 when Team Alvimedica and its two young American co-captains, Mark Towill and Charlie Enright, arrived—a fitting start to what was in many ways the outstanding stopover of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, and which U.S. race fans are going to get the chance to do all over again later this month.
As in 2015, when an incredible 131,000 race fans came by, the Newport stopover will feature a series of different events all taking place between the time of the expected finish of Leg 8—which should be about 19 days after the April 22 start in Itajaí—and the May 20 start of Leg 9 across the Atlantic to Cardiff, Wales. Among them will be an in-port practice race, an in-port Pro-Am race, an M32 catamaran Pro-Am race, the official 2017-18 in-port race and the start of Leg 9 itself.
Of course, the nature of Narragansett Bay is such that viewing areas abound, both out on the water and up and down the shore, whether it be on the Newport side or on Jamestown Island. At press time, the exact inshore courses had not yet been made public, but it’s a safe bet that they will be much the same as last time around, with the start and finish directly off the Fort Adams “race village” and turning marks off either Castle Hill or the town of Jamestown. For details, visit.
As for the race itself, if you haven’t been paying attention to the 2017-18 VOR thus far, then sorry to say you’ve been missing out on not only one of the world’s great sailing events, but one of the great modern human endeavors, period. Once again, the competition has been marked by extraordinarily aggressive racing and the close finishes that have come to be part and parcel of this event. The overall leaderboard has also remained incredibly tight, with four of the seven teams still very much in the hunt for a win.
There’s also still plenty of racing to go, and what better way to get caught up again than by making the trip to Fort Adams and having a look at both the boats and crews in person?
Key Dates - 2018 Newport Stopover
May 8 — Race Village Opening Fort Adams State Park
May 12 — Public & Youth Sailing Begins & Exploration Zone Opens
May 15 — Team Sailing Practice Begins
May 16 — Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Practice Race
May 17 — Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Pro-Am Race
May 18 — M32 Pro-Am Race
May 19 — Newport In-Port Race
May 20 — Leg 9 Restart to Cardiff