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“Newport has been a great success so far for us. I’ve been to an American stop seven times since I did my first race as a sailor and I cannot recall anything as good as this.”

– Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad

Noting the great enthusiasm and footfall of the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover, race CEO Knut Frostad announced this morning that Newport, R.I., has been awarded an exclusive two-month negotiating window to secure the North American stopover in the next edition of the global race, slated for 2017-’18.

The Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover has enjoyed large crowds and great support from the State of Rhode Island and City of Newport. As of Friday evening an estimated 82,000 people have visited the Race Village at Fort Adams State Park. Frostad said that it was the most visitors since the race started visiting North America in 1989-’90, and he noted the enthusiasm of local residents.

“I’ve been to an American stopover seven times now and can’t recall anything as good as this,” Frostad said of Newport. “It’s a fantastic achievement and it’s our ambition to return to Newport. I’m confident we’ll see 100,000 visitors before the end of the stopover, which would be quadruple the North American stopover in the previous race.”

A total of 100,000 visitors would rank Newport ahead of Abu Dhabi and on equal footing with Cape Town, even though Newport’s population is a fraction of those ports.

“This is tremendous news,” said Brad Read, the executive director of Sail Newport, a co-host of the stopover. “It’s testament to the hard work of many individuals, the commitment of the state and local governments, and to Newport’s status as an iconic sailing destination. The visitor turnout has been great. We’re confident we can bring this race back to Newport.”

Frostad said that although it took a while for the race to visit Newport (this is the 12th edition of the race), a key to returning was a strong commitment from governing officials. Frostad noted that Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and RI Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed are committed to bringing the race back to the City-by-the-Sea.

“Hosting a stopover is a joint venture,” Frostad said. “We bring a show to the city and the city has to bring infrastructure and together we make the stopover. A good stopover has to do with enthusiasm and commitment from the government. It’s very much about the commitment of the government and the delivery partner, which in this case is Sail Newport. The local government, state government, governor and senator have all committed what they can to make the next stopover successful.”

Already six ports have been confirmed for the 2017-’18 race: Alicante, Spain (which will host the race start for the fourth consecutive edition), Cape Town, South Africa, Auckland, New Zealand, Lisbon, Portugal, Cardiff, Wales, and Gothenburg, Sweden (where the current race will conclude at the end of June).

Frostad said the final route will be announced next January.