Newport and world class racing (and us)

Newport is a pretty neat place – definitely a sailor’s town, with a lot of history and charming colonial architecture. It also smells like waffle cones and fudge shops, and as the guys put it, “it’s like going to Busch Gardens but without the rides!”

Downtown Newport

Downtown Newport

As luck would have it, we got here about a day or so after the tricked-out sailboats participating in the Volvo Ocean Race arrived. Newport is one of the last stops in the race that started back in October and circumnavigates the globe.

Just your average 5 million Euro sailboat, NBD

Just your average 5 million Euro sailboat, NBD. Our poor boat seems so primitive in comparison!

Their previous stop was in Itajai, Brazil. They'd traveled over 5,000 miles in 15 days! And here, I thought we'd made good time with our measly 120 nm/day.

Their previous stop was in Itajai, Brazil. They’d traveled over 5,000 miles in 15 days! And here, I thought we’d made good time with our measly 120 nm/day.

It was pretty awesome to walk around and look at the boats, and learn about how they live and travel during such an intense race. The sails are so thin they feel like they could be made of paper, and because they have to travel so light, they live off of freeze-dried meals and multivitamins despite burning some 5,000 calories a day. It’s common to lose up to 25 pounds per leg of the race! “Hard core” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Although my perpetual seasickness would prevent me from being an effective crewmember, I would love to be a fly on the wall for one leg of the trip (preferably the short one between France and the Netherlands) just to see what it’s like to travel in one of those boats. I’ve never raced before, never even ridden in a sailboat that’s gone faster than 8 knots, so I can’t imagine the intensity and excitement of a world-class race like this one.

Oh, and because the race is sponsored by Volvo, we got to see a demonstration of the “future” of automobiles: remote controlled cars that can be commanded to pick you up, or park themselves, by talking to an app on your phone. Supposedly it will be available in 2017. Better order yours now! (Yeah, okay. Maybe after I win the lottery.)

I wonder if you can name it? "Knight Rider, come get me! And bring me some wine!"

I wonder if you can name it? “Knight Rider, come get me! And bring me some wine!”

We decided to spend the majority of the weekend in Newport so that Chuck could finish fixing the engine, and so we could relax and enjoy the town. I’ve lived on the East Coast for a while now, but I haven’t spent much time in New England, and certainly not in a town that feels like New England, if that makes sense. We moored out in the harbor and rode the dinghy to downtown, where there are plenty of great restaurants and pubs to enjoy. (And yes, the fudge stores are pretty legit, too. We tried a couple just to make sure.)

Downtown Newport

More Newport

Something that I noticed that made me laugh was what the locals were wearing. Yes, it’s May, but we’re pretty far north so it’s still around 50 degrees in the evenings. Maybe it warms up close to 60 during the day. But most of the residents are wearing outfits like what I’d packed to wear in Bermuda! Shorts, sundresses, flippy-floppies, t-shirts without jackets. I felt slightly ridiculous breaking out my furry boots and heavy coat to go out at night, but it was cold, dammit! I mean, check out this picture I took this afternoon: about 5 pm, the fog is already rolling in, and look at how these people are dressed!

Didn't your mom tell you that you'll catch a cold?

Didn’t your mom tell you that you’ll catch a cold?

I suppose it’s not unlike how when I lived in Hawaii, we’d start donning our sweaters and long pants as soon as the temperature dropped below 70. It was a rough winter on the East Coast, so I imagine they’re just happy that it’s above freezing. Still, it’s kind of hilarious to see everyone walking around like we’re in Key West or someplace else that’s tropical, weaving in and out of the fog that settled in during the evening.


And this is the part in the Stephen King novel where the monster comes out and terrorizes the town, right?

I suppose it’s just one more thing to get used to if you live here, but we lived in constant fear that we’d no longer be able to find the boat once we left shore in the dinghy. The fog made it a scary trip at night! It was a good thing we’d picked a mooring so close to the Ann Street pier, which was are usual dinghy parking spot when we rode into town to grab food. (By the way, the brick oven pizzeria that’s right there as soon as you leave the pier is phenomenal.)

So that was our weekend in Newport. A charming and fun place to visit, especially when there’s awesome transoceanic racers in town! I’m looking forward to following them on the rest of their journey, almost as much as I’m looking forward to our own journey into Long Island Sound. 🙂

For more about the Volvo Ocean Race and to follow along, check out

It’s free to visit the race village, and the boats with their teams will be in town until May 17th. For more about the Volvo Ocean Race and to follow along, check out


One thought on “Newport and world class racing (and us)

  1. Pingback: What I did on my summer vacation | The Skeptical Sailor

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