02-May-2014

Volvo Ocean Race boats en route

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One year from now, boats from the Volvo Ocean Race are expected to begin working their way up Narragansett Bay toward Newport. But local fans won't have to wait that long for a look at the competitors: Four of the Volvo Ocean 65 racing boats will make an appearance in the upcoming months. According to Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport, there are five confirmed boats for the race that starts later this year, and two more are expected to be on the starting line when it begins in October. (Sail Newport is the managing authority for the Newport stopover during the Volvo Ocean Race.) While each of the four teams that will visit Newport in 2014 are still working on their schedules, most of the time the boats will be at the Newport Shipyard where the public can observe them. Turkey's Team Alvimedica will arrive in Newport on June 10. The Turkish boat is skippered by 29-year-old Charlie Enright ofBristol. Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean RaceThe first to arrive, already en route from the Canary Islands, will be the Team SCA boat, and it's expected to arrive in Rhode Island on Wednesday for nine days. The SCA boat is most notable for its all-female crew, the first maleless team to compete in the race in more than 10 years. The crew of the Swedish boat will include three Americans, including Middletown's Corinna Halloran. Halloran is attempting to secure a spot as the embedded media representative on the boat. The progress of the women as they cross the Atlantic toward Newport can be tracked on the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Facebook page that Sail Newport maintains. China's Dongfeng Race Team boat will be arrive by ship in late May and will remain in Newport until mid-June. The Turkish boat Team Alvimedica will arrive next, sailing to Newport from Lisbon, Portugal. It's expected to arrive on June 10 and depart on July 6. The Turkish-sponsored team is led by skipper Charlie Enright of Bristol, and there are several other Rhode Islanders in the mix for the final positions on the team. The last team to arrive will be the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing boat that will arrive in Narragansett Bay around July 2. The team is expected to leave on July 6. According to Read, it's doubtful that the teams will do much practicing while they're in the area. For the most part, the teams will meet sponsorship obligations, including sailboat rides for the people who pay the bills for the expensive racing campaigns. "You might see them take off for a few nights if they get a weather window and they want to test something," Read said. "But for the most part it's going to be day sailing with corporate clients." Read said that the voyage to Rhode Island and the return trip will provide good training legs for the teams. All of the boats will head for Lisbon when they depart Newport. It will be particularly interesting because it will mimic the Newport-Lisbon leg that the boats will sail in the actual race next year. In fact, Team SCA will leave for Lisbon at almost the exact time they will sail the leg next year. It may give them an advance look at what the wind and weather are like along the route in mid-May. The boats will set out for the Volvo Ocean Race from Alicante, Spain, in early October. From there they will travel nearly 6,500 nautical miles to Cape Town, South Africa, before moving on to Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Sanya (China), Auckland (New Zealand) and Itajai (Brazil). Then it's on to Rhode Island. The boats will have traveled more than 34,000 nautical miles before reaching Newport. After a 10-day stopover that will include a pro-am race, an in-port regatta, and plenty of ancillary events at Fort Adams, the fleet will sail on to Lisbon, Lorient (France) and the Hague (Netherlands), before finishing in Gothenburg, Sweden, in June 2015. In all, the trip will be 38,739 nautical miles long and take more than nine months. Read, who is also chasing the 35th America's Cup for Newport, said there is nothing new to report in regard to that effort. A 60-page response to the organizer's request for information has been submitted, and Newport is now shortlisted for the final selection. It's among the final four in a field that has been narrowed down from 12 candidate cities. In addition to determining the venue for the America's Cup, there are still decisions to be announced regarding the protocol for the event, and the class rule that defines the type of boats that will be sailed. Those announcements had been expected in March. Thus far only the defender, Oracle Racing USA, and the challenger of record, Team Australia, have confirmed their participation. Teams from New Zealand (Emirates Team New Zealand), Great Britain (Ben Ainslee Racing), Italy (Luna Rossa) and Sweden (Artemis Racing) also hope to join the field.