NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — For the third consecutive time, The Ocean Race is coming to Rhode Island in the spring of 2022.
Sail Newport and The Ocean Race announced on Tuesday that the competition will make its only North American stopover in Newport.
The race was previously known as the Volvo Ocean Race.
The stopover in Newport will be one of ten stops during the eight-month 38,000 nautical-mile race around the world. It takes off in Alicante, Spain, in October 2021 and finishes in Genoa, Italy in June 2022.
Gov. Gina Raimondo says she is grateful The Ocean Race recognizes the value of coming back to the Ocean State.
“This is terrific news for our state, again bringing global attention to Newport and Rhode Island as premier tourist destinations and promising to generate tens of millions of dollars in spending and economic impact,” she added.
Sail Newport, Rhode Island’s Public Sailing Center, will organize the event.
“Newport remains an iconic venue for generations of sailors,” said Richard Brisius, Race Chairman. “It is a town built around the water, and people here hold the race close in their hearts, which makes it a stopover to look forward to for all of our sailors and stakeholders.”
According to Brad Read, Executive Director of Sail Newport, the event has a wide-ranging economic and tourism impact on the community.
Organizers released a detailed economic impact report that showed that the 2015 stopover generated an estimated $47.7 million to the state’s economy.
Both events were huge draws for visitors, with over 137,000 people in the race village in 2015 and over 100,000 visitors in 2018.
“The Ocean Race is one of the three pillar events in the sport of sailing, alongside the Olympic Games and America’s Cup, and as such, it provides inspiration and motivation to sailors and sailing fans of all ages,” Brisius added.
According to The Ocean Race, the 2015 stopover in Newport marked the birth of the sustainability program for the global Ocean Race, an initiative that expanded to all stopovers during the 2017-18 race.
“The 2015 and 2018 race stopovers exemplified how to make large-scale, public events sustainable and also educated visitors about ocean health and the need to reduce the plastic pollution that fouls our seas,” Janet Coit, Department of Environmental Management Director, said.
For example, during the 2018 stop, at the Newport Ocean Summit, Rhode Island became the first state to sign the UN Environment Clean Seas Pledge.
An alternative transportation campaign also inspired more than 7,000 visitors to use bikes and water taxis instead of cars to visit the race village. This avoided 14.8 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Charlie Enright, of Bristol, has led teams in the past two editions of the event and takes pride in seeing an international event come to his hometown.
“It’s humbling and for me, it’s a big point of passion and pride,” he said. “It’s great to be sailing in and out of Newport, seeing all the spectators, and really having a home-field advantage in an event as international as this is a very special thing.”