Volvo Ocean Race Newport 400

May 29, 2018

Image: Volvo Ocean 65 at sock in Newport

Boating Industry Canada was fortunate to be invited to the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Newport, Rhode Island, and what an event it was! Seven identical 65 foot yachts racing around the world under extreme conditions all with crack crews, precision support teams, incredible media coverage and over 100,000 people that came out to Fort Adams, the stopover base. Newport, the only North American stopover, is a great sailing town that showcased the race in an exemplary fashion. Politicians, industry leaders, plus a great array of sailors and people who were just caught up in the excitement, got to see the race up close as the race village had many pavilions that featured both the race and its sponsors.  The Gurney’s Resorts In-Port Race in Narragansett Bay, featuring the seven teams, drew huge numbers of spectators all along the shore as well as hundreds of private boats to see the racing right up close. 

Ron Huibers Greg Nicoll 400Image: Greg Nicoll, Publisher of Boating Industry Canada and Ron Huibers , President of Volvo Penta of the America watching the In-Port Race from Castle Hill Newport RI

The title sponsor is the Volvo Corporation that includes Volvo Penta. Boating Industry got to spend some great time with Ron Huibers, President of Volvo Penta of the Americas. What makes it so special is that Ron, who always sports an engaging smile and a great sense of humour, hails from Canada and spends a great part of every summer boating on Georgian Bay. Ron has been with the Volvo Group for over 25 years and has held various positions in North America and internationally with Volvo Construction Equipment, Volvo Financial Services, Mack Trucks and the Volvo Trucks. It is great to see a fellow Canadian doing so well and at the same time being such a strong advocate for the marine industry.

Boating Industry Canada was also invited to a media event to hear Volvo Group CEO Martin Lundstedt recount a recent meeting he had with President Trump in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Form when they discussed how the proposed aluminum and steel tariffs would punish US manufacturing operations for Volvo. Tariffs were top of Lundstedt’s mind, as Volvo was among the many industries represented at the forum, he told a group at the Volvo Ocean Race Newport stopover.  “I think all of us believe in free trade, but also fair trade,” Lundstedt said.

Boating Industry Canada was also an attendee at the Ocean Summit on Marine Debris that brought together government, industry and scientists to advocate and begin to explore innovative solutions to the ocean plastic pollution crisis. Two of the seven VOR teams have been collecting data on plastic pollution as they made their way around the world. Most in the audience were shocked at the reports coming from the race teams, especially describing the amount of plastic found in the Southern Ocean, where you are as far away from civilization as you can get. The Volvo Ocean Race takes the plastics crisis very seriously as everyone entering the Race Village had to have their bags inspected, as no single-use containers were allowed on site. Boating industry Canada will be following up with the research and data presented at the summit to produce information for the marine trade industry across Canada to help reduce the amount of plastics entering our oceans, lakes and rivers.

Great events in the marine industry need support from governments, in this case contributors were the state of Rhode Island, great event organizers such as Sail Newport, the involvement of excited volunteers, and there were many, industry support such as the boat sponsors AkzoNobel and Mapfre, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Musto and Omega just to name a few. Finally and most importantly, is the anchor sponsor, the Volvo Corporation, that has made this a first class, worldwide event. We, in the marine industry, should acknowledge and appreciate the efforts all of these groups have done to promote our industry.

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