Welcome to the Adventure

Published on May 5th, 2015

by Joe Berkeley, Newport This Week
With the Volvo Ocean Race fleet to complete their leg from Brazil to Newport, USA this week, creating a world-class welcome has required the work of a world-class shore team. Brad Read, the executive director of Sail Newport, is also the director of the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover.

This is a welcome that has been more than two years in the making. Read has been focused on a million little details, and as a former College Sailor of the Year and J24 World Champion, he has used everything he learned on the water to prepare this event on land.

He said, “This stopover represents two years of work, with the bid process for everything from security to concessions to creating great interactive exhibits featuring the health of the ocean. We had eight subcommittees with the primary focus of making the event great, from creating a sustainable green event, to the marine side, to making sure boaters are safe, to logistics and concessions.”

The Volvo Ocean Race village is made up of 100 containers that were shipped from Auckland, New Zealand to Philadelphia, Pa. From there, the containers were trucked to Newport. Cranes carefully place each one in its precise spot.

“It’s like a giant game of Jenga,” said Read. He cannot do this job alone, and his shore crew is as accomplished as any bowman aboard a race boat.

Before he submitted Newport’s stopover bid, Read made sure a woman known as “Suma” was on his team. The race village manager, Sue Maffei Plowden stands just 5’ 4” tall but is a giant in the world of international sailing event management.

A graduate of URI, Suma ran the America’s Cup World Series in Newport in 2012 and has played an instrumental role in making sure Newport is prepared before the arrival of the race boats. “She has an amazing way of getting things done,” said Read.

Suma, who has produced America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race events all over the world, is thrilled to be working in her own backyard. She said, “This is such a fantastic venue. The sailors love Newport. It’s historic and unique, there’s nothing really like it.”

For the past two months, the preparations for the Newport Stopover have been nonstop. More than anything, the hometown sailors hope to see you in the village for their arrival. Except for Alvimedica reporter Amory Ross. As soon as he hits the shore, he’s making a beeline over to Newport Creamery for an Awful Awful, and then to Dunkin’ for an extra-large coffee and two glazed doughnuts. Full reportFacebook page

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