Volvo Ocean Race: Auckland amps up as Race Village opening nears

The Puma bar and store being built in the Auckland race village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.

Volvo Ocean Race fever is sweeping through Auckland as the city prepares for the opening of the Race Village on Thursday and the imminent arrival of the six-strong fleet at the end of the week.

The Race Village, at Viaduct Harbour, will throw open its doors to the public at 9am on Thursday, kicking off 10 days of celebrations marking the Volvo Ocean Race’s return to the City of Sails and the completion of Leg 4.

The Auckland Race Village is free to enter and opens from 9am to 9pm, seven days a week.

Auckland’s Mayor Len Brown will cut the ribbon and declare the Race Village officially open, kicking off a full programme of events that will run right through to the restart of the race on March 18.

The Auckland Race Village has an entertainment programme brimming with concerts, shows, exhibitions, sailing clinics and rides.

DHL air freight containers arrive in the Auckland race village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Village is also home to the Volvo Ocean Race Experience, an interactive attraction designed to suck landlubbers into the world of a Volvo Ocean Race sailor through its 3D cinema, simulator and winch grinding challenge.

The centrepiece of the Race Village will be the stars of the Volvo Ocean Race – the six 70ft Volvo Open 70 racing yachts and the crews that have so far raced them more than 23,000 nautical miles through the world’s toughest oceans from Alicante, Spain, to Auckland. For the first time ever, visitors will be able to watch the teams at work close up, as the master boat builders and design experts work in full view of the public.

'The Race Village has something for everyone,' said Volvo Ocean Race Events Manager Johnny Donnelly. 'Whether you are coming to the Race Village to watch a concert or to see the In-Port Racing or to try sailing, there’s so much to do. The Volvo Ocean Race isn’t just about sailing, it’s about an experience that people can come and be part of and enjoy.'

The Volvo Pavilion being built in the Auckland race village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

Te Wero Island will be the entertainment hub with a packed programme of events on the big stage every day, plus large screens, live music and concept bars.

The new Viaduct Events Centre will house the NZ Marine Export Showcase, the exclusive Latitude Lounge, Race Management and the Media Centre. Visitors to the Viaduct Events Centre will enjoy a bustling dockside environment with the moored Volvo Open 70s fleet as a backdrop.

The focal point for hospitality will be the Latitude Lounge, providing VIP hospitality for sponsors and corporate hospitality guests.

The first of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is expected to arrive on March 10.

People watch as the Auckland race village is built, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Volvo Pavilion being built in the Auckland race village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

Team Telefonica start to build their shore base in the Auckland race village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Viaduct Events Centre forms the backdrop to the Auckland race village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Volvo Pavilion being built in the Auckland race village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Puma bar and store being built in the Auckland race village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.

The port exhibition stands are put together as part of the build of the Auckland race village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

People watch as the Auckland race village is built, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Emirates Team New Zealand base in the Auckland race village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)