When the Volvo Ocean Race moved its headquarters from the UK to Alicante as part of a long term deal, the investment by the Spanish city was backed up by a belief that the event would deliver substantial economic benefits.
First it was Volvo Ocean Race personnel, then more recently the competing teams, and now, with the opening of the Race Village, Alicante will play host to an influx of yacht racing tourists.
Some of the visitors, who will contribute to the increased occupancy in hotels, will be there to see the current class of Volvo 70 (extreme) offshore racing yachts, while others will come to see a wide variety of boats competing in the Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta and Reunion.
When the race village in Alicante’s Puerto de Salida opens its doors to the public, the city will get to see how their investment in bringing the start of the Volvo Ocean Race to town is paying off.
The Volvo Ocean Race is not a sprint, it is a series of endurance legs – perhaps akin to the infamous Dakar Rally, but that doesn’t stop the comparisons to another kind of motorsport…
Like something from a Formula 1 grand prix, the Alicante Race Village is 40,000 square metres dedicated to entertainment with a programme brimming with concerts, shows, exhibitions, sailing clinics, rides, fireworks and restaurants.”
But hopefully, the main reason that people will visit the Race Village will be to engage with the six 70ft Volvo Open 70 yachts and the crews that will race them 39,000 nautical miles through the world’s toughest oceans.
Unlike a Formula 1 grand prix, the team zones will be open to the public allowing fans to watch master boat builders and design experts at work, which is a positive thing.
Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad said:
“One of our objectives has been to transform the Volvo Ocean Race into a festival. On the water it’s a race and on land it’s a festival. We’re not a football match where it lasts for 90 minutes and then you go home – the Volvo Ocean Race is something to come to, experience, be seen at and ultimately enjoy.”
The Race Village is also where fans will get a chance to watch the Volvo Ocean Race’s version of Stadium Sailing. The in-port race will take place on October 29 and the race village will also be the place to be for the start of the race on November 5.
And for those who have ambitions of one day taking part in the race, just like Three-time Whitbread Round the World Race skipper Alain Gabbay, the Volvo Ocean Race is running an Academy Team Racing Clinic, offering youngsters from sailing clubs across the region to compete against each other in single-handed Optimist dinghies.