Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 is due to start on 1st November 2011 in Alicante, Spain and will finish in Galway, Ireland in July 2012.
Thousands of people will flock to Alicante today, Friday 14th October, as the Race Village opens for a three-week fiesta.
Alicante’s Puerto de Salida will fling open the doors to the public at 1800 local time (1600 UTC/GMT), welcoming the world to the first of the 10 host ports in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.
Festivities kick off at 1900 with a Rolling Stones tribute concert before the six teams competing in the world’s toughest crewed yacht race are presented. The night will culminate in a huge fireworks display lighting the skies over the Race Village just before 2200.
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.
It is also home to the Volvo Ocean Race Experience, an interactive attraction designed to suck landlubbers into the world of a Volvo Ocean Race sailor through its 3D cinema, simulator and winch grinding challenge. Artist collective Skeleton Sea will lead workshops as part of the Keep the Oceans Clean! Campaign, and look out around the Race Village for Wisdom, the mischievous albatross.
The centrepiece of the Race Village will be the six 70ft Volvo Open 70 yachts and the crews that will race them 39,000 nautical miles through the world’s toughest oceans.
Team Telefónica, Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, Team Sanya, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Groupama sailing team and Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg Propulsion are the teams taking part. For the first time ever the team zones will be open to the public allowing fans to watch master boat builders and design experts at work.
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 Alicante Race Village opens from 1000 to 0030 from Sunday to Thursday, with a later closing time of 0130 on Fridays and Saturdays. It is free to enter except for some ticketed concerts.
The Race Village will also provide the perfect place to watch the yachts race – on October 29 when they lock horns in close-quarter combat metres from the shore and again on November 5 when the teams start their 6,500 nautical mile sprint to Cape Town, South Africa.
'What other major sporting event can you have access to for free?' said the Volvo Ocean Race’s Director of Operations Heather Sherer.
'There are so many entertainment opportunities that bring the feeling of being at sea to the shore, from the 3D cinema that is state-of-the-art that will give you a new perspective of life on board to the bouncing castle for the little ones.
'For the first time ever we are offering the opportunity to get up close with a Volvo Open 70, with a limited number of the public to be given dock side access to the fleet.'
This weekend sees the start of the Academy Team Racing Clinic, offering youngsters from sailing clubs across the region to compete against each other in single-handed Optimist dinghies. Try Sailing, another important initiative to inspire new generations of sailors, also gets underway, offering children a chance to try the sport for the first time. Race village opening timetable (all times UTC+2):
1800 – Race Village opens to public
1900 – Rolling Stones tribute band
2030 – Opening ceremony including presentation of Volvo Ocean Race teams
2155 – Fireworks display Volvo Ocean Race website