Ocean-race boats to arrive in Gunwharf Quays this weekend

After a battle of 3,200 nautical miles from New York, the seven yachts competing in the Volvo Ocean Race are expected to arrive in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, this Saturday. The boats can be seen at the marina from their arrival until the race re-start on Friday 2 June.

The seventh leg of the race has taken the 70 ft(21m) boats from the Ambrose Light, off Manhattan, towards a scoring gate at the Lizard Point in Cornwall. The fleet will then race up the English Channel through the Solent to Portsmouth.

The narrow neck of the Solent at Hurst Castle, with its tidal eddies and shingle beach, should make an exciting viewing point for spectator boats wishing to see the boats sail to the finish. The best option for fast spectator boats is to situate yourself towards the western end of the Solent and follow the fleet through to Portsmouth as they come in.

For spectators planning to catch a glimpse of the boats from land, there are many viewing points along the coast; one of the best is the northern tip of the Isle of Wight, in particular Cowes Parade, to the west of the Royal Yacht Squadron.

The so-far predominantly upwind leg has been a tough one for the ten-man crews, who will no doubt be relieved to leave the boats – and their diet of freeze-dried food – for a few days. The stopover will be particularly welcomed by the British sailors in this year’s race: Neal McDonald, Tim Powell, navigators Jules Salter, Simon Fisher and Andrew Cape, and driver/trimmers Rob Greenhalgh and Ian Budgen.

Once the boats are moored up in Gunwharf Marina, there will be a prize-giving ceremony for the first three to finish. A host of entertainment is planned over the following two weeks, including a French Market this weekend and a Carnival Festival taking place over the bank holiday weekend. A light show from the Spinnaker Tower over the Volvo 70s should also be spectacular; this will take place every evening from the in-port race on Monday 29 May until Friday 2 June.

Present leaderboard standings are :
ABN AMRO ONE: 70.5 points
Pirates of the Caribbean: 47.5 points
movistar : 47.0 points

To keep track of the boats’ ETAs, see www.volvooceanrace.org
See www.gunwharf-quays.com/volvo_ocean_race.htm for full listings of what’s going on in Gunwharf.