Singapore extended an official welcome to the Volvo Ocean Race this evening with the opening of the race village at the One Degree Marina Club in Sentosa Cove.
The opening ceremony took place on the main stage in front of an audience of local dignitaries and celebrities and provided an opportunity to present the Volvo Ocean Race crews and skippers, who arrived by trishaw, to the Singapore public.
The festivities culminated with a traditional 'Lion's eye dotting ceremony' where the guest of honour, Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang scared off evil spirits by opening the eyes of a Chinese lion - not a real lion - by dotting them with symbolic blood.
The ceremony, accompanied by the sounds of a drum, gong and cymbal was followed by a traditional lion dance complete with an explosion of firecrackers and elaborate lighting display.
The Minister welcomed the guests in the first of three speeches, followed by Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race and Kathryn Shih, UBS's Head of Wealth Management, Asia Pacific.
Knut Frostad paid tribute to the sailors in the race, emphasising the close finish on the leg into Singapore and noting: "We have 12 Olympic medallists in our fleet, who have raced here to Singapore and who, along with their team mates, have been enjoying the great hospitality here in Singapore over the holiday season. I'd really like to thank all of the people who have worked so hard to make this stopover such a success."
With the race village open, attention shifts to the UBS Challenge for the In-Port Race on Saturday, where the seven Volvo Ocean Race teams will be racing in up to two races, for points towards the overall standings.