The VELUX 5 OCEANS buzz continued to grow today with the opening of the race village in La Rochelle. The beautiful October sun shone down on the dozens of tents that make up the race village, the largest in the VELUX 5 OCEANS’ 28-year history.
Canadian ocean racer Derek Hatfield cut the ribbon at 10am to mark the race village opening. The ceremony was followed by a tour of the race village and an invigorating performance of Batala music, a style of Brazilian samba originating in Salvador, one of the VELUX 5 OCEANS host ports.
Hundreds of flags and banners frame the race village and make it a spectacle for visitors. Supporting the race theme of sustainability, a considerable number of exhibitors are promoting climate or environment-friendly features such as solar panels, biomass energy, sustainable buildings, timber recycling, water purification and planet preservation measures.
The biggest tent of them all is the 200-square-metre tent of the VELUX Group. It will house a product exhibition arranged by VELUX France and present all the activities of the 48 VELUX locations that created their own Ultimate Team Challenge as a counterpart to the skippers’ Ultimate Solo Challenge of racing around the world. It will also host the grinding challenge, simulating the most physically challenging aspect of sailing a yacht. The grinder operates the boat’s winches, used to haul up sails. The VELUX grinder allows landlubbers to give it a try too.
As a meeting point and demonstration house for sustainable living, the VELUX House is right in the middle of the action. It has already been used for several events including the launch of a race-inspired rugby shirt in partnership with Atlantique Stade Rochelais, La Rochelle’s top rugby team. VELUX 5 OCEANS chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston unveiled the shirt which will be worn by Atlantique Stade Rochelais team in their matches in the European Amlin Challenge Cup competition.
Throughout the eight days leading to the start day the race village will host a range of activities, including dance and music performances, watersports in the marina, school visits, cooking challenges and a chance for the public to meet the VELUX 5 OCEANS skippers.
One of the highlights in the lead up to the VELUX 5 OCEANS start will be the arrival in La Rochelle of one of the most famous classic ships in France, the beautiful three-masted tallship Belem, which will enter the port on the evening of October 13. Each skipper will be introduced to the public in a special ceremony onboard the historic ship at 7.30pm.
On race day, October 17, thousands of well-wishers are expected to pack the race village to say goodbye to the sailors before joining them on the water in a spectacular send off. A detailed programme of events for race day will be released in the coming weeks.