Alicante is rightly proud to be the starting point for the Volvo Ocean Race. October 2017 will see the next race get under way from the port. It promises to be quite an occasion. The city’s pride manifests itself with the impressive interactive Race Museum located alongside the race HQ.
It doesn’t matter if you are interested in sailing or not, you will find it an intriguing place to pass an hour or so. Personally, I don’t know anything about sailing, and I’m not in a hurry to change that. The museum gives you the chance to dip your toes in the water, so to speak!
The exhibits inside are modern and exciting, leading you through what it is like to be on board one of these boats. At the moment there is even a brilliant photographic exhibition entitled “24” which gets you up close and personal with everything that goes on during the race. There is a small theatre showing interviews of experienced racers retelling their stories in English with Spanish subtitles. Throughout the museum all of the interactive displays are available in English, Spanish and Valencian. They will show you all about ocean currents, the wildlife the crews get to see, the equipment on board and the construction of these magnificent boats. The Hall of Fame is pretty impressive too. Video screens show footage of and interviews with the heroes of ocean sailing such as Tracy Edwards.
The interactivity continues with a race simulator which requires two people to operate – one to steer and the other to do whatever you do with the sails! There are two sets of controls and a split screen so you can race each other around a virtual Alicante harbour. The schoolkids visiting seemed to be finding it very entertaining.
The museum is free, and can currently be visited on its winter schedule: Tuesday to Thursday from 10:00 to 14:00; Friday and Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00; and Sundays from 10:00 to 14:00 During the summer (15 June – 12 October) it can be visited as follows: Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 to 21:00 and Sunday from 11:00 to 15:00. There’s a pdf flyer for you too.
Now for the down side. Inside the museum is an item of significant interest to most visitors and indeed one that someone like myself may visit specifically to see – the 4D race simulator. There is no information on either the flyer or the museum’s website to say that this is only available at weekends. It was particularly frustrating as the simulator was being used by a school party yet myself and an equally disappointed British family were not allowed to go inside. Thus I will never know how it feels to sail the ocean blue. Perhaps it’s not a bad thing as I enjoyed a delicious meal in town afterwards without having to regain my land legs!
Further disappointment awaited outside. The enormous Pirates of the Caribbean boat stands proud in the garden. Next to it is the Brasil 1 where you can find out a bit more about life on board and experience the cramped conditions. Sadly you can only do this at weekends too, or as part of an organised group excursion like the schoolkids were on.
So, my verdict – go ahead and visit but if you want to see what it’s like to experience life on the ocean wave, go at the weekend.