Annapolis holds out hope for 2002 race berth Officials say city's still in running for Volvo sail stop

Regional News

November 08, 1998|By Tanya Jones and Dan Thanh Dang | Tanya Jones and Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Annapolis officials are dismissing reports that their city may be rejected as a stop on Volvo's around-the-world yacht race in 2002.

Annapolis and Baltimore officials say both cities are in the running, as a package, to play host to sailing teams and hundreds of thousands of race spectators for the Volvo Ocean Race, Round the World, the successor to the Whitbread Round the World Race, which stopped in both venues last spring.

An article in the Nov. 5 editions of The Sun quoted sources close to the event saying Baltimore is nearly guaranteed to be a stop on the yearlong race, but it is unlikely Annapolis would be included because two stops so close together were costly and tiring for the racers.

However, leaders in the cities' combined effort to bring the race back to the Chesapeake Bay have said they had no indications from Volvo that the corporate sponsor would choose to skip Annapolis in favor of a Baltimore-only stop.

"It's premature to say that the visit to Annapolis might be dropped," said Susan K. Zellers, director of the city's economic development office. "They have not even begun to talk about it yet."

Volvo officials planning the contest have put off a planned trip to Baltimore and Annapolis this month to first visit U.S. cities bidding for stopovers that have never played host to the race.

Volvo is expected to begin announcing plans for the 2001-2002 contest in January at the London Boat Show.

Annapolis is a natural to play host to the race, said city leaders, many of whom pointed to the city's reputation as "The Sailing Capital of America" and a seafarers' town.

The sailors and their support crews liked Annapolis, and the city offers Volvo the ability to attract spectators from the Washington area, who might be less likely to travel to Baltimore, said Peggy Wall, president and CEO of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau.

Baltimore and Annapolis make a good pair, she said.

Baltimore offers the Inner Harbor, while Annapolis boasts more than three centuries of maritime history and is home to a knowledgeable sailing crowd.

"To me, all indications are optimistic that the race would return to a location on the Chesapeake that would include Baltimore and Annapolis," Wall said.

Statistics are not available assessing the impact of the race stopover in Annapolis that began April 22 and ended May 3 with the restart of the penultimate leg, but the region garnered more than $26.5 million from the event, according to a Volvo-commissioned report.

Publicity and news reports also gave the area about $500,000 worth of free publicity around the world, according to Wall.

The event also got the local boating season off to an early start, according to Beth Kahr, executive director of the Marine Trades Association of Maryland Inc. While local shops didn't get any business from the racing syndicates and their state-of-the-art crafts, marinas and boat charter companies reported they were booked solid during the festival, she said.

And having the race in the Chesapeake Bay could have even longer-term benefits, according to R. Dean Kenderdine, assistant secretary of the state Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts. He vTC can use the reputation gained from playing host to a world-renowned yacht race to promote the Baltimore-Washington region's bid for the 2012 Olympics, he said.

"It's all about building reputation," said Kenderdine, vice president of the Volvo Ocean Race Chesapeake Inc., the group preparing the local bid. "The Whitbread went a long way to extending this region's reputation as one that can put on a world-class sporting event."

Pub Date: 11/08/98

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