Kochi stopover arrangements great: Volvo Ocean

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Kochi, Jul 24: Top officials of the 2008 Volvo Ocean Race, described as the ultimate mix of sports, business and glamour expressed satisfaction at the arrangements being made by Cochin Port Trust (CPT) for the race's stopover, the only one in India, from December three to 13, 2008.

While addressing a press conference here, Race Director Jack Llyod said the Volvo Event Management UK team, which toured the proposed race village in Kochi yesterday, was extremely positive about the arrangements.

Mr Llyod said the slew of events proposed to be held during the ten-day stopover would be of special interest to the local people and the visiting teams.

While no in-port race would be held, the participating yachts, during their departure on December 13, would take a loop into the city backwaters so that the maximum number of people can view them from various vantage points.

As of now, seven teams had confirmed their participation in the 39,000 nautical mile round-the-world sailing marathon, which would start from Alicante in Spain in October, 2008 and stop over at 11 ports, including Cape Town, Kochi, Singapore, Qiongdao (China), Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Galway (Ireland), Goteborg and Stockholm, before reaching the finishing line at St Petersburg, Russia.

Director Planning and Operations, Jeremy Troughton, said Kochi promised to be a ''great venue'' for the Volvo Ocean Race, which was going to halt at an Indian port for the first time. ''Kochi may well turn out to be the most successful stopover point,'' he added. Four major international luxury cruise vessels have already planned stopovers in Kochi during the race period. These are 'Legend of the Seas,' 'Celebrity Quest,' 'Seabourne Spirit' and 'Nautica.' CPT Chairman N Ramachandran said the port was planning to make the stopover a ''public event.'' A race village, being set up in an area of 20,000 sq metres, would be open to the general public. Besides a technical area for the repair and maintenance of the yachts, the race village would include a state-of-the-art media centre, international jury office, an exhibition area and food courts.

A total of Rs 30 crore is to be spent on the arrangements for the Kochi stopover, which is being jointly hosted by CPT and Kerala Tourism Department.

Cochin Port Trust will spend another Rs 21 crore for legthening the BTP Jetty to 337 metres for the yachts in the race village area.

As part of the CPT's expansion plans, the jetty would be used by the Port Trust to berth cruise ships, which are visiting Kochi with increasing frequency over the past two to three years.

The stopover is expected to have a spinoff effect on promoting Kochi as a major international tourist destination with the event being telecast live across 200 countries, Mr Ramachandran said.


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