2018-05-24 / Front Page

Ferry trip complements visit to race village

BY RYAN GIBBS


Jamestowner Barbara Lundy, center, at the Volvo Ocean Race village Friday following her ferry trip Friday across the channel from East Ferry. 
PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Jamestowner Barbara Lundy, center, at the Volvo Ocean Race village Friday following her ferry trip Friday across the channel from East Ferry. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN About 100,000 visitors descended on Fort Adams to see the majestic Volvo Ocean Race fleet during its 13-day stopover, including boatloads of passengers who arrived the old-fashioned way.

The Jamestown Newport Ferry, which is operated by Conanicut Marine Services, made nearly 150 round trips across Narragansett Bay during the two-week event.

“It was effortless,” said Lydia Owen, who chose the picturesque bay Friday over the gridlocked bridge. “This is one of the most beautiful places in the world, so I’m thrilled to come here by water.”

According to Bert Brodin, co-captain of Katherine during the stopover, the boat offers a ride from East Ferry to Newport “without having to worry about the parking.” Jamestown resident Barbara Lundy, who took the 2-mile ride Friday, agreed with the skipper.

“It’s much easier,” she said. “It’s a fun ride.”

Lundy said she was casually following the around-the-world race and had no favorite team, although Owen was rooting for Vestas 11th Hour Racing, the American entry with two Rhode Islanders onboard. Both women, however, were equally excited to watch the inshore races. Owen also wanted to learn about the engineering of the Volvo Ocean 65, which is the one-design racing yacht used by the seven teams during the 45,350-nautical-mile global circumnavigation.

The race village featured nearly a mile of tents, structures and activities, including team bases with official merchandise, a Volvo sponsor pavilion to promote the Swedish automotive company, a Heineken beer garden, a food court and a pop-up shop for the Preservation Society of Newport County. There also was a globe-shaped theater, which could be seen from the shores of Jamestown, that screened interactive films detailing the daily lives of the sailors.

Newport firefighter Gary Largess was posted at the theater, providing crowd control, enforcing the building code and standing by in case he was needed to perform emergency medical services. Earlier in the week, the former Jamestown firefighter watched the 30-minute video.

“Not many guys on the job really like sailing, but for people that do, it’s a good detail ” said Largess, a former sailor. “The whole thing’s pretty well done. There’s a lot of things for kids to do.”

Inside the fort itself was the One Ocean Exploration Zone, which was popular among children visiting during school field trips. The tent featured educational marine exhibits from more than two dozen presenters, including the University of Rhode Island, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, Mystic Seaport, Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island, Save The Bay and the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation. Students from Lawn and Melrose schools visited the zone last week and encountered a familiar face.

Meg Myles, executive director of the Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation, featured interactive activities at her booth, including a lesson on the effects of debris and garbage to marine life. Students also could build their own buoys and see how many golf balls it took to sink them.

Outside of the tent was a demonstration of the sailing foundation’s AquaBots vehicles, which are similar to the SeaPerch robots that have been used by sixth-grade teacher Charlene Tuttle. Because her booth had hands-on activities, Myles said students tended to linger there longer than at other exhibitions.

“We’ve had kids for 20 or 30 minutes,” she said. “It’s great to really grab their attention. ”

The AquaBots weren’t the only underwater robots displayed at the fort. Undergrads from URI demonstrated the vehicles used by their hydorobotics club in national competitions. Their display also featured hydrodynamic simulations, which was a hit with visiting students.

“I’m showing them the different patterns that happen in fluid as objects move through them,” junior Allison Redington said. “It’s really nice to inform the community different things about ocean engineering. A lot of people lump ocean engineering with oceanography, but it’s a very different field.”

For the second consecutive edition, Newport was the only North American port during the 11-leg Volvo Ocean Race, which began in Spain last October. The yachts arrived in town from Itajai, Brazil, on the foggy morning of May 8, and left Sunday for Cardiff, Wales. The village at Fort Adams was open every day the sailors were in town.

While the skies were gloomy during the stopover, Leppy Mc- Carthy, who works for Newport ferry charter service Oldport Marine, said the uncooperative weather didn’t discourage visitors from stopping by the village.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that everyone around here is feral, and that they’re not scared at all of rain or cold or wind,” she said. “They just put another layer on and show up as if it’s a glorious sunny day. We’ve been waiting for three years for everybody to show up again, and here they all are.”

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