The Volvo Ocean Race Fleet has arrived in Baltimore's Inner Harbor to kick off the fouth annual Waterfront Festival, running from Thursday April 17 through Thursday April 25. Over 150,000 people are expected to view the boats, which will travel to Annapolis on Friday April 26. Their arrival there heralds the start of the Maryland Maritime Heritage Festival, running through April 28.
Events specific to the Volvo Ocean Race in Baltimore include a welcoming ceremony at 5 PM on Friday April 19, Volvo Ocean Race Day at the Pimlico Race Track on Saturday, a skippers and navigators lunch at noon on Wednesday April 24 (tickets are $75 and include lunch, contact Lee Tawney at email@example.com), and the Prize Giving ceremony at 6 PM on Thursday April 25 (VIP seating is available for $100, contact Lee Tawney).
Other activities in Baltimore sure to interest sailors are oyster shucking, rum making, and seafood cooking demonstrations. On Friday the Inner Harbor sees the traditional Blessing of Baltimore's Work Boats, followed by a Parade of Sail as the fleet heads to Annapolis.
The fleet arrives at 5 PM at the town dock in Annapolis where a welcome celebration will be held. The Annapolis Salutes the Volvo Ocean Race party starts at 6 PM at the Eastport Yacht Club, tickets are $20 (contact Lisa Cerone at firstname.lastname@example.org). Nearly 6000 people are expected to attend what promises to be the Chesepeake Bay's party of the year. ESPN sailing commentator Gary Jobson will emcee the event and introduce all the teams. There will be live music on two stages, a movie about the race and plenty of food and drink.
The restart festival begins Saturday April 27 at Sandy Point State Park, complete with live music and a beer garden. On Sunday, the annual Bay Bridge Walk (rescheduled this year so that participants could view the start of Leg 7) begins at 9 AM, the blessing of the fleet is at 10 AM with the restart of Leg 7 to La Rochelle, France at 1 PM under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Four years ago when the race was called the Whitbread Round the World Race, the stopovers in Baltimore and Annapolis drew huge crowds and enormous interest. This year's events promise to outdo the 1998 event by several magnitudes.
For complete information see www.vorchesapeake.org and www.bop.org/calendar/events/waterfront.html.