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The Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover: Tips for Spectating from Ashore or By Boat

Post by Becky at Dockwa - Published on 4/19/18 6:15 PM

The Volvo Ocean Race is headed to Dockwa's hometown! Right along with the thousands of sailing enthusiasts in the Northeast and beyond, we've been following the action and can't wait to welcome the crews to our city by the sea. 

With Newport as the sole North American stopover in the Volvo Ocean Race's nine-month, 45,000 nautical mile feat of endurance, sailors will be visiting from all over New England to show these racers that they can truly call our coastline home.

In the time between now and the morning the Volvo Ocean Race Village opens on May 9, we'll all be finding ways to make these tough-as-nails sailors feel welcome with the help of the awesome teams at Sail Newport and DiscoverNewport. VOR fans have already been doing a fabulous job cheering the racers on from afar via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but for those within striking distance of Newport the time is nigh to get your floatplans secured to catch the action live and in-person.


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Watching the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover by Boat

If you're coming by boat, you're in it to win it and going to have a great time. Here are some tips for spectators: 

  • Safety is everyone's primary concern. Take it slow in the harbor, don't be a punk trying to take the paint off a VO65 with your Boston Whaler, keep your crew warm and in the boat. Priority one with a bullet. 

  • Steer clear: Keep an eye out for the 14 or so Stake Boats that will be on the water each of the four race days – VO65 Practice, Pro-Am, VO65 In-Port, and VO65 Leg Start. These boats are designated to define the racing perimeter for spectator boats, and coordinate with the race Marshal Boats to ensure spectator craft (that's you) do not encroach on the racing area. Stake Boats will be flying 20' VOR flag from their main halyard and possibly a self-contained flashing strobe which will identify them as part of the cordoned area. 

  • Get the play-by-play. Even with a crew of experienced racers, spectating can get fuzzy without commentary. Make sure your boat electronics are charged and ready to sync to whatever device you'll be streaming the race coverage from. Don't forget to bring chargers, and perhaps even a charging hub. Phone batteries drain faster on the water and in crowds, and no one wants to be phoneless if an epic photo comes up or when trying to rendezvous with friends ashore post-race. 

VOR in Cape Town

Volvo Ocean Race Overview & Scheduled Races

  • Race Village opens: May 9 at 11AM. Admission is free!

  • Boats arrive: The boat arrival times are obviously less predictable, with ETAs estimated as May 11. Pay attention all through the race, and get yourself Newport-bound as they close in. Thousands of VOR spectators will be gathered to welcome them to port – don't miss out on the fun!

  • VOR boats @ Race Village: Once each boat is secured at Fort Adams, there they remain (barring any needed repairs that may take a boat off-site) until practice/Pro-Am races and the In-Port Races on May 19. 

  • VO65 Practice Races: Wednesday, May 16 @ 2PM

  • VO65 Pro-Am Race: Thursday, May 17 @ 2PM

  • In-port racing: Saturday, May 19 @ 2PM

  • Departure: Sunday, May 20 @ 2PM. The beginning of the Newport-Cardiff leg will be the last of these exciting days in the harbor and at Fort Adams, with thousands gathered on land and more in boats to see the racers off.

See the full schedule of Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover events

Volvo Ocean Race in-port races

Tips for Li'l Rhody Locals 

We know RI residents are pros at representing our famous Ocean State of Mind, but just in case here are some tips for a rockstar-VOR:

  • Kick things off by tuning into the race start via livestream this Sunday as the boats get underway from their start point in Itajai, Brazil – race start is 1PM Eastern. For locals, hit up The Deck on Waites Wharf – the kitchen will open at 11AM and festivities get in full swing at noon with Brad Read, Executive Director of Sail Newport, giving commentary as the start unfolds on the big screen via livestream. 

  • Get involved! Sign up here to volunteer in the boatyard, on the water, behind the lens, with the interactive Race Village booths, and more. 

  • Follow along via the official Volvo Ocean Race tracker! That way you can talk shop with your fellow sailors, learn a bit more about the sport, and win heated arguments with strangers in online sailing forums. 

  • Maybe you've seen, sailed, and raced some sexy boats in your day. Don't try to play it cool. Go explore the race village and nerd out about seeing the VO65s up close and personal. For sailing newcomers, don't be afraid to do as the old salts do – nerd out, get excited, ask questions, and definitely don't be shy about finding ways to get out on Narraganset Bay. 

  • Don't drive angry. If you were in town for VOR '15 you already know traffic will be an issue during the VOR. That goes for on the water as well: mind the cruise ships. Click here for the schedule

  • The Newport Wave! It's a thing, and we love it. We don't need to tell you this, but being classy hosts doesn't just apply to making the guests of honor feel welcome. If you see a lost tourist, offer to help. If a nice older couple timidly walks into the Fastnet, buy'em a round of Jaeger shots. If someone asks for a tips on where to go around town that isn't VOR-related, offer up your faves and adopt them as your new family. 

VOR Newport

Tips for Everyone:

  • There's going to be loads of stuff to see and do in the Race Village. Click here to see what's happening when and make a day of it!

  • Stay in the know: Download the app for iOS and Android and sign up for notifications for updates on racers' ETAs, village goings-on, and more. 

  • Get social: We mentioned the official handles of the VOR earlier, but be sure to follow the teams and local organizations as well. Particularly on Twitter, we've had a blast watching boats tweet back and forth, at times trying to out-GIF each other. 
  • Grab your VOR VIP pass at the Race Village and visit the stores that are offering discounts. (Pro-tip: Come by the Dockwa office to say hello, claim a koozie, and see if the kegerator has any beer left in it.) 

Happy VOR-ing!


Reserve at Gurney's Newport Resort & Marina


What'd we miss? If you have a great tip for locals, visitors or online spectators, let us know by emailing becky@dockwa.com

Post by Becky at Dockwa

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