2012-06-21 / News

Racing isn’t only reason to visit Fort Adams during ACWS

Exploration Zone will be an interactive group of exhibits
BY KEN SHANE


While the lighting-fast, 45-foot catamarans like Team Korea’s will be the spotlight of the America’s Cup World Series, the Exploration Zone at Fort Adams will offer an educational twist. While the lighting-fast, 45-foot catamarans like Team Korea’s will be the spotlight of the America’s Cup World Series, the Exploration Zone at Fort Adams will offer an educational twist. Not all of the excitement will be on the water when the America’s Cup World Series begins this week. Working closely with the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, organizers have created the Exploration Zone.

The attraction is presented by Fidelity Investments, and will feature several local nonprofits working together to create an enlightening and entertaining experience for visitors to Fort Adams during the America’s Cup event.

In addition to the Graduate School of Oceanography, other organizations that will participate in the Exploration Zone include NewportFilm, Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island, Sailors tor the Sea, Sailing Heals, the Rose Island Lighthouse, the Rozalia Project, the International Yacht Restoration School, Clean the Bay, the Herreshoff

Marine Museum, and Sail Newport.

“All the attention that this highprofi le sailing event generates is a great platform for communicating the importance of ocean conservation and sustenance of marine life,” said Kim Cooper, the marketing director for Sail Newport. “The Exploration Zone is an interactive group of exhibits that work together to support the initiatives that sailors all over the world partake in to promote healthy use of the ocean, and respect for marine life. There is a worldwide initiative for sailors to give back to the ocean that has meant so much to them.”

Cooper noted that Sail Newport was founded in 1983 in part to attract and foster high-profile sailing events like the America’s Cup World Series. The organization has been involved in the event from the start, lending operations support to the America’s Cup Event Authority. Sail Newport is also responsible for coordinating some 300 volunteers who will work during the event.

Cooper said that the group is running several of its programs in conjunction with the event, for example the Youth Challenge regatta that will take place this weekend. “It’s being sailed out of Sail Newport, but we’re bringing the kids to the Exploration Zone. We have professional sailors coming to talk to the kids, and the kids will be shown the America’s Cup privately.”

Donna Kelly is a board member and volunteer at Sail Newport. By day she is a schoolteacher in Newport. The Exploration Zone is her creation.

“The goal was always to combine some nonprofits that all do similar things, because nonprofits are struggling right now,” Kelly said. “It’s a way to feature and highlight each group’s greatness. These nonprofits don’t compete, but compliment each other. The intention was to create a consortium with similar initiatives which help with the marine environment.”

According to Kelly, the three areas that will be emphasized in the Exploration Zone are ocean awareness, conservation and exploration.

“We want visitors to have a fun, interactive, positive educational experience on top of experiencing the sailing,” Kelly said.

Kelly said that she was given responsibility for the Exploration Zone because of her long association with Sail Newport. She hopes that the concept will continue after the America’s Cup World Series is over.

“We’re hoping to take things to another level at Sail Newport and within our community. Something like this could be a more long term thing.”

Kelly cited the Graduate School of Oceanography as a great resource for Rhode Island. She said that the institution’s focus is on marine science, ocean conservation and weather, and that they run a wide range of programs in those areas. Among the attractions that the school will bring to the Exploration Zone are a touch tank, interactive displays, plates that have been placed in the Atlantic Ocean at various times to measure growth, and a look at what is in a drop of Narragansett Bay water.

The school exhibits will also include a Narragansett Bay model, which will indicate bay currents and a Gulf Stream display. The Exploration Zone will also play host to a series of daily ocean talks that will be presented by representatives from all of the organizations involved. “I think it will be pretty powerful,” said Kelly.

Among the other organizations, NewportFilm will present a series of environmental short films. The International Yacht Restoration School will represent Rhode Island marine trades by displaying a carbon fiber sailing moth, along with a small carbon-fiber car that was also built at the school. Maine’s Rozalia Project will team up with the local group Clean the Bay to present a powerful demonstration of the accumulation of trash in our waters.

On Saturday, June 23, 11th Hour Racing will sponsor a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Exploration Zone at 10 a.m. Visitors will then be welcome to tour the exhibits. The event is free, but there is a $10 parking charge at Fort Adams that day.

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