The City of Portsmouth is preparing a huge welcome for the seven VOR teams when they arrive in May 6/2/06

The City of Portsmouth is preparing a huge welcome and events programme for the seven teams competing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006.

The Volvo Open 70s are due to arrive in Portsmouth Harbour on 19 May after a non-stop transatlantic sprint from New York lasting about eight days and will be based at Gunwharf Quays.

In Portsmouth during the race stopover, 19 May – 2 June 2006, a whole host of events are planned including the podium prizegiving to give visitors a chance to see the skippers and crews close up following the gruelling Atlantic crossing.

The official opening of the Volvo Ocean Race Village with its interactive Volvo Experience exhibition is on Saturday 20 May, and will be open to the public until Friday 2 June. The opening event will see a performance from the acclaimed ‘Weapons of Sound’ – original performers of junk percussion music as well as infectious samba music and street entertainment. The festival atmosphere will carry right through the weekend with live music, traditional funfair attractions, colourful stilt walkers and comedy shows.

Between Tuesday 23 and Monday 29 May the public will be able to take part in the Volvo Ocean Race Guided Tour, a look around the technical ‘back stage’ areas in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where the Volvo Open 70s are lifted out of the water and worked on by the shore teams in preparation for the next stage of the race.

On Thursday 25 May the Volvo Extreme 40 catamarans arrive at Gunwharf Quays. Each corporately sponsored these racing machines will be sailed by world class sailors in a series of in-port races off Southsea Seafront commencing on Saturday 27 May.

Other Volvo Extreme 40 races will take place at Southsea Seafront on Sunday 28, Tuesday 30 and Wednesday 31 May and Thursday 1 June.

The Bank Holiday Weekend, Saturday 27 May to Monday 29 May, is the Carnival Festival. On a trail from HMS Victory in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to Gunwharf Quays, it will be possible to trace the voyage of the Volvo Ocean Race through the people, music, food and culture of each continent the yachts have visited. By ‘Crossing Continents’ from North America, Australia and New Zealand, to Africa, South America and Europe it will possible to speak to an American Indian, visit a Maori Meeting House and dance to Samba drums.

To get involved, it’s worth attending the ‘Crossing Continents’ workshops which will be being held at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Gunwharf Quays including African Drumming and North American Indian crafts, to South American carnival costume making and Samba Dancing workshops. These will be held throughout the Race Village on a drop in basis and are free.

Save the Albatross. Central Square, Gunwharf Quays. The Volvo Ocean Race has adopted RSPB’s ‘Save the Albatross Campaign’ to raise awareness of the plight of the albatross and to highlight the urgency of saving these awe-inspiring birds, which all the teams in the Volvo Ocean Race will see whilst they are in the Southern Ocean. Along these same lines, Gunwharf Quays, in conjunction with the RSPB, has organised a Treasure Hunt around Gunwharf Quays to find the hidden albatrosses, learn all about them and win a prize.

A full programme of music and entertainment will keep the party going right through the half term week, with events at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Southsea Seafront, including a full music programme on 28 May on the Waterfront Stage at Gunwharf Quays.

The Volvo Ocean Race In Port Race will take place on Monday 29 May. All seven of the powerful Volvo Open 70s will race in the Solent around an Olympic style course in full view of spectators both ashore and afloat. Depending on conditions the racing should take place between Southsea Seafront on the mainland and Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. The yachts will leave Gunwharf Quays at 1030 and the race start will be at 1300. Prize giving will be at Gunwharf Quays between 1700 and 1900, depending on the time the yachts finish the race.

Leg 8 – the 1,500 mile sprint round Britan and Ireland finishing in Rotterdam, will start from Southsea seafront at 1730 on Friday 2 June.