Abu Dhabi: The chief of the Volvo Ocean Race expressed his pleasure as Abu Dhabi unveiled its purpose-built Volvo Ocean Race ‘Destination Village' on the Corniche breakwater yesterday, ahead of the emirate's historic, fortnight-long hosting of the gruelling 39,000-nautical mile round-the-world event.
The Destination Village — the size of eight football pitches — was inaugurated yesterday by Shaikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (Adta), along with Shaikh Khalid Bin Zayed Bin Saqr Al Nahyan, Chairman of the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation; Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General of Adta; General Ahmad Nasser Al Raisi, Director General, Central Operations, Abu Dhabi Police; Salem Rashid Amer Al Rumaithi, vice-president, UAE Sailing & Rowing Federation, Knut Frostad, CEO, Volvo Ocean Race and Peter Baumgartner, commercial director of Etihad Airways.
"I am really pleased. It's fantastic, it looks absolutely great. We started discussions almost three years ago, and when I came here for the first time, it did not look like this," said Frostad.
"It's fantastic to see drawings become reality. It is not only looking fantastic, but it also has a really strong Abu Dhabi flavour and spirit. You can feel that when you are here. That is very important to us because we want all the supporters to have local taste," he said after touring the village.
The Volvo Ocean Race fleet — which includes the UAE's Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team Azzam — will be in action over the fortnight. The six boats are expected to arrive on Wednesday afternoon.
The fleet, after carrying out repairs and modifications, will compete in the in-port race on January 13, the first points-scoring competition in Abu Dhabi. The six-strong fleet then leaves on the third race leg to Sanya, China, on January 14.
While in the capital, the stunning Volvo Open 70 race yachts, the fastest in the world, will be on display at the Destination Village, allowing fans to get up close to these ultimate sailing machines.
"With this hosting, we are writing race history, as this is the first time the fleet has come to the Arabian peninsula, and that in itself is something to celebrate," said Al Muhairi.
Open daily from 11am to 11pm, with extended weekend hours, the free-to-the-public Destination Village is the focal point for a wealth of on- and off-water activities, including concerts and competitions, as well as all the Volvo Ocean Race action.