Photos: Dan Nerney/Sail Newport
The Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover is attracting visitors from far and wide, but today school kids dominated the Race Village at Fort Adams State Park. The children were treated to a pancake breakfast hosted by the Sail Newport Board of Directors and then went running through the Exploration Zone.
Newport Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit, Amy Bellcourt of SCA Americas, Sail Newport Executive Director Brad Read and other dignitaries were on hand for a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony that opened the Exploration Zone.
Presented by SCA and 11th Hour Racing and featuring 22 exhibits from 20 educational partners, the Exploration Zone aims to educate and inspire visitors about the sport of sailing, the oceans, and to discover continents and cultures around the world through the lens of the world's most grueling sailboat race. Exploration Zone themes include marine science and technology, geography and culture, sustainability, mathematics and sailing.
Sail Newport organized an Exploration Zone for the America's Cup World Series in 2012 that was wildly successful. This one builds on that foundation, but takes it to another level. It's what sets the Newport stopover apart from others around the world. (Newport schools superintendent Colleen Jermain and Donna Kelly of the Exploration Zone committee for the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover.)
"What's so cool this time around is that we've been able to build on what was done before. It's a broader cross section of activities and experiences," said Kim Hapgood of Sail Newport. "School is still in session and we've been able to engage Aquidneck Island schools to come and visit on field trips. The activities are mostly geared towards the middle school level, but there also are exhibits aimed at kindergartners and high schoolers."
The URI Graduate School of Oceanography and NOAA are prominent exhibitors, as well as 5 Gyres Institute, SCA Americas, Clean Ocean Access, E2SOL, Newport Renewables, the Rhode Island Sea Grant/Coastal Resources Center, Inner Space Center, US Sailing/REACH, Sailors for the Sea, IYRS School of Technology and Trades, the Rose Island Lighthouse, Collaborative Community Sailing, and a collaborative effort from the Jamestown Arts Center, Women's Resource Center and the Met School. Visitors also can tour Rhode Island's Official Sailing Educational Vessel, the tall ship Oliver Hazard Perry, which will be berthed at the new pier at Fort Adams State Park, until May 13.