2018-03-15 / News

URI to simulcast Volvo Ocean Race

Vestas 11th Hour Racing sails the Atlantic Ocean during training in April. Vestas 11th Hour Racing sails the Atlantic Ocean during training in April. The University of Rhode Island will bring the world’s premiere offshore regatta, the Volvo Ocean Race, to campus Tuesday through a live broadcast as the fleet races across the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and South America. The free event begins at 7 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium on the Kingston campus.

The grueling global circumnavigation tests the endurance of the world’s best sailors, including Charlie Enright, a Bristol native and skipper of the American boat, Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

Established in 1973 as the Whitbread Round the World Race, the competition challenges teams to navigate 45,000 nautical miles across four oceans in 12 race legs over 8 months, concluding in The Hague, Netherlands. Crews experience life at the extreme as they race day and night around the world for more than 20 days at a time.

“This is an outstanding opportunity to hear firsthand from competitors in the most extreme sailing event in the world and get a preview of what to expect when the race comes to Rhode Island,” said Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport.

The program will include video of earlier stages of the competition, commentary from Rhode Island sailors who have competed in the race and remarks from Read, who is coordinating the Narragansett Bay stopover in May, the only North American port of call. Newport will host the race village from May 8-20 at Fort Adams State Park, where visitors can get close-up looks at the race boats and meet the crews. The village attracted 130,000 visitors when the Volvo Ocean Race docked in Newport during the 2014-15 edition.

URI’s involvement is due to the school’s long tradition of excellence in intercollegiate competitive sailing. During its 80-year history, the Rhody sailing team has won every major New England championship. The 1990 keelboat team became the only American team to ever win the Collegiate Keelboat World Championships, making it the only URI athletic team to win a world title. The URI women’s sailing team, which has starred Jamestowners Rachel Bryer and Kate Nota in recent years, won the national championship in 2011.

URI will be featured prominently in the village’s exploration zone, including exhibits about marine life, ocean conservation and marine technology and related topics. Members of the sailing team will be in attendance during Tuesday’s event.

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