2015-05-07 / Opinion

A Warm Newport Welcome


The Dutch people say “welkom.” In Turkey, the greeting is “hos geldin.” In Spain, the word you’re most likely to hear when encountering a friend is “bienvenido.” In China, at least in Cantonese, a warm greeting sounds like “funyihng!”

Here in Newport, Rhode Island, we greet strangers and old friends alike with a warm “welcome.”

And that’s how we feel about the arrival on our shores of not only sailors but also international, national, and regional guests who have come here either as competing sailors or as spectators to enjoy 12 days of the Volvo Ocean Race stopover.

On Wednesday, May 6, six teams of skillful sailors began arriving in Newport harbor as they finish the most recent leg of a race that began last October in Alicante, Spain. A seventh team, from the Netherlands, hit a reef in the Indian Ocean but still hopes to rejoin the race on a later leg.

As sleek and sturdy as the Volvo racing vessels surely seem to be, life aboard one of these boats has its limitations. One of them is the fact that the daily on-board menu is freeze-dried food. While no doubt way more tasty than, say, what the Pilgrims ate on their journey that ended in what would soon become Plymouth, Mass., in 1620, freeze-dried curry or lamb in meat sauce doesn't stand up against the meals that await the modern day Volvo sailors in Newport.

Newport, of course, has a deserved reputation for its restaurants and their varied gustatory offerings. We hope that all our Volvo visitors, but particularly those from far-off lands, take advantage of the many fine dining opportunities that exist in the City by the Sea.

What else should race visitors do here?

Well, if it were up to us, we would ensure that our guests make time to not only watch the sailors in action off our shores, or enjoy the numerous offerings in the Volvo race village, but also take time to see and learn about the earlier days of Newport.

Because Newport’s story—from the early days of the 17th and 18th centuries to the mid-19th and early 20th century industrial giants who built and then vacationed in their Bellevue Avenue mansions—is really America’s story.

The struggles of the early settlers, the move to revolution, the brutish occupation of the British army, the advent of religious freedom, the Industrial Revolution and its role in establishing Newport as the national and international resort that it continues to be, are all events in our history worth examining.

We urge all of our visitors during the Volvo Race stopover to get as much out of all of this as possible. And you might also enjoy our beaches, our scenic Ocean Drive, and—not to be forgotten—Fort Adams State Park.

To all of you we say—“Welcome!” Or, if you prefer—“Hos geldin!”

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