Volvo race hosts focus on improving amenities

STRONG WINDS: The SCA team battles rough conditions in the Volvo Ocean Race this past November near Cape Town, South Africa. / COURTESY VOLVO OCEAN RACE/CHARLIE SHOEMAKER
STRONG WINDS: The SCA team battles rough conditions in the Volvo Ocean Race this past November near Cape Town, South Africa. / COURTESY VOLVO OCEAN RACE/CHARLIE SHOEMAKER

With four months of planning left, the hosts for the Volvo Ocean Race are focused on making access to Ocean Race Village as trouble-free as possible.
Water taxis, ferries – small and possibly large ones as well – and even bikes will all be accommodated at what will be a new $4.5 million, 240-foot pier at Fort Adams State Park, said Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport and director of the May 5-17 stopover.
“A key component is cross-harbor boat transportation,” said Read. “We have talked to all licensed [carriers] and will be ramping up the capacity of those for the two weeks the Volvo Ocean Race is in town, much like we do for the America’s Cup World Series and the festivals.”
As the race’s only North American stopover, Newport and Fort Adams are expected to see 100,000 people coming through the village, Read said.
“There will be more linear dock space for shuttles so you don’t have to wait to get people on your shuttle boat,” he explained. “By having the new pier we can use the other assets on the [nearby] Alofsin piers to make sure we have more space to take people across the harbor.”
Development of the new pier, which Larry Mouradjian, R.I. Department of Environmental Management’s associate director for natural resources, said is on track, will serve Sail Newport special events long term and function as the home berth of the educational tall ship Oliver Hazard Perry.
Floating docks are being built offsite and will be installed in March or April, said Read and Mouradjian.
About 70 percent of the dredging is done, and concrete was poured within the past week to enable a wave fence to be built in early 2015. “The new pier is a true legacy project that will help Fort Adams State Park in years to come luring events and bringing in school ships to be available for the public,” Read said.
Read said discussions are underway with Martha Vineyard Fast Ferry, based out of North Kingstown, as well as Interstate Navigation Company’s Block Island Ferry out of Narragansett, about whether they could assist with transporting people on their larger ferries for the days of highest activity at the beginning and especially the end of the stopover.
“We have a meeting after the first of the year to find out what they can do and justify financially,” he said.
Findings after the visit from the 2012 America’s World Cup Series, reported in the “Large Marine Events Benefits Assessment Modeling Report,” released in early 2013, revealed that not only transportation but food-service issues needed to be improved for future events.
At the America’s Cup event, food vendors were located inside the fort, but most of the activity was outside the fort, Read said.
“So, we’re working on making sure the public catering areas are very accessible and well-stocked,” he explained.
The Ocean Race Village will have 100 containers large enough to serve as buildings in 10 different pavilions that will have interactive exhibits, Read said. Each of the team sponsors will showcase what their companies do, he said, including SCA, a Stockholm-based paper company, and Vestas, a Denmark-based global energy company dedicated to wind technology.
Read will be reporting on progress for the pier and village on Jan. 7 at a Newport Chamber of Commerce meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. at the Newport Yacht Club. •

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