America’s Cup catamarans arrive safely in Rhode Island
When the Dutch container ship Dolfijngracht sailed up Narragansett Bay passed Jamestown Sunday afternoon, it carried tangible proof that the long-held dream of many people in Rhode Island was about to come a reality.
The ship was on its way to Quonset, where the boats, equipment and supplies needed to conduct the America’s Cup World Series in Newport would be unloaded.
Dofijngracht is a 590-foot cargo ship that was built in 2009. The ship is owned by the Spliethoff line, and carried about 120 containers on its voyage from Venice, Italy, the site of the last America’s Cup World Series, to Rhode Island.
In addition to containers holding each team’s racing boats, there were containers that will soon become offices in Newport, and another that will become the America’s Cup store. Most of the containers began making their way to Fort Adams on Monday in an operation that was expected to take several days. According to the latest available information, the racing boats will be splashed in Quonset, and towed to Fort Adams on their hulls.
According to Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport and chairman of the state America’s Cup Host Committee, the cargo ship could not have arrived in Narragansett Bay at a more appropriate time.
“The ship was dodging approximately 125 boats racing in the annual New York Yacht Club Regatta, a dozen 12-meters plying the famous Narragansett Bay waters that used to host the actual America’s Cup, dozens of children in sailing programs out of the sailing center, and hundreds and hundreds of recreational sailors cruising around Narragansett Bay,” he said.
Read added that the huge orange ship probably had to blast its horn about 35 times to make sure it got through the amazing amount of recreational boating that was going on in the bay that day.
The arrival of Dolfijngracht was also symbolic in nature. According to Read, it indicated that the America’s Cup World Series that so many people had worked on for so long, had finally arrived.
“Now all the talking, all the planning, all the hand wringing, and all the what-if scenarios are coming to a head,” Read said. “Now this is where people actually get to work and get their hands dirty.”
Read added that he was really excited about the upcoming event, and he had high praise for those members of the America’s Cup Event Authority who have already arrived in the area.
“They’re incredibly good at what they do, and they accentuate the professionalism that Sue Maffei Plowden has had through these last eight months of working on the event.” Plowden is a Jamestown resident who was named the venue manager of the America’s Cup World Series.
Early this week, China Team announced that it would be withdrawing from the regatta, and would not be racing in Newport. Although the team was not doing particularly well in the overall standings, it had shown some progress in Venice, and Read expressed disappointment at its departure from the field.
“I think they brought a flair,” Read said. “The Chinese indicated that they were very much using this to try to lend awareness to sailing in their home country. I’m disappointed that they didn’t send a team here. I don’t know what their balance sheet shows, and obviously they had to pull the plug at some point. I’m just disappointed that it was for this event.”
A variety of activities will take place in the days leading up to the start of the World Series, including a 12-meter regatta in Narragansett on Thursday, June 21, and a downtown Newport celebration on the following evening. The latter event will include a performance by the Navy Band at Washington Square at 6 p.m. and an outdoor screening of the film “The America’s Cup: The Newport Years.” The film will be shown at Queen Anne Square at sunset. It will be hosted by sailing legend Gary Jobson. All events are free to the public.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Exploration Zone – which will include exhibits from the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island – will take place at Fort Adams at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 23. Admission to Fort Adams will be free from that day through June 27 as the teams practice on the bay. However, parking fees will apply on those days.
Following the practice racing on June 27, an opening ceremony at Fort Adams will feature the introduction of the teams, the raising of the flags, words from selected dignitaries, and music by the Ravers. Official racing begins the following day and continues through July 1.