The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD, along with representatives from the Volvo Ocean Race, Fáilte Ireland and Let’s Do It Galway, today welcomed the announcement that Galway has been selected as the finishing port for the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean race.
The Taoiseach emphasised:
“The 2009 Stopover in Galway made an abiding impression on the sailors, support crews, organisers and media who were immersed in the warmth of an Irish welcome.
Their presence, in turn, had an enormous beneficial impact on Galway, the West of Ireland and indeed the entire country. Their arrival here was spectacular and their visit helped generate a massive €55m for the regional economy, more than one third higher than the original projections. “Given its economic benefits and its importance to Irish tourism, I am more than happy to welcome the return of the Volvo Ocean race to our shores and pledge our support for the event”.
Galway fought an intense contest against the other bidding ports to win back the event for a second time and, importantly, the Volvo Ocean Race will complete its lap around the globe in Galway, where the final prizegiving will be held.
“The interest in hosting the Volvo Ocean Race, particularly in Europe, has been quite overwhelming” said Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad, as the Galway choice was unveiled. “I am very proud to confirm Ireland’s participation and Galway will be a magnificent port to stage the finish of the event. We have already experienced the enthusiasm that abounds in Ireland for the race and we are looking forward to bringing the competition to its conclusion in a country that really knows how to celebrate,” he said.
This announcement completes the list of European cities hosting the event. The remaining ports will be introduced throughout March.
“For Ireland to win back the event is a smart move. The Smart Economy is not simply about science and technology, it is about connecting our Island in the North Atlantic with the world, leveraging our 2,000 miles of coastline, Global Diaspora, Enterprise, Employment, Youth Education, Development, Food and, of course Tourism for a quick win and economic return on investment” Enda O’Coineen Chairman of Let’s Do It Global said.
Let’s Do It Global is a not for profit youth, maritime enterprise and business network. In addition to the port hosting, they have also committed to entering a team in the 2011 -2012 Race. “There will be many commercial and marketing opportunities and we will be looking to the private sector and individuals to come in behind our Global Challenge” Enda O’Coineen added.
The announcement today can be attributed in part to the success of the stopover in Galway during May 2009 which fuelled the public imagination as never before. Over 600,000 supporters visited the race village during the stopover, with the crowd peaking at 62,000 people on in-port race day alone. The seaside resort of Salthill drew a further crowd of 120,000 to watch the dramatic close combat race from the shoreline.
Galway’s ‘home town boat’ in 2008, Green Dragon, became Ireland’s second entry in the race – the first was NCB Ireland in1989-90. Double Olympic medallist, Ian Walker, guided the team to a fifth place finish overall and claimed the third spot on the podium when the fleet crossed the finish in Galway, delighting the huge crowd that had gathered to welcome them.
Fáilte Ireland will be supporting the stopover event through an investment of €4m over two years, through its International Sports Tourism Initiative.
Welcoming the return of the Volvo Ocean Race to Galway, Chairman of Fáilte Ireland, Redmond O’Donoghue, incidentally,whose late father in law, Perry Goodbody,was Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club from 1964 – 1966, today pointed out: “This is a great boost for tourism and Fáilte Ireland is delighted to be once more involved in supporting this event. As we saw last year, this festival certainly had a significant economic impact. Also, significantly, the pictures from Galway which were beamed all around the world strengthened Ireland’s image as a must-visit destination for tourists as well as our reputation for hosting future world class sporting events.
Events such as this provide us with the ideal calling card to showcase our two strongest assets – our beautiful coastal landscapes and friendly people.”
The Volvo Ocean Race traces its origins back to 1973 and is the world’s premier offshore sailing race.
The next Volvo Ocean Race will start in the Spanish port of Alicante in the autumn of 2011. Cape Town, Lisbon and Lorient in France have already been confirmed as stopover ports. Incidentally, Galway’s twinned town is Lorient.
The 2011-12 race will be the 11th edition of the event. The first 31,250 nautical-mile race first took place over 37 years ago (as the Whitbread Round the World Race 1973-74), testing the crews against some of the most ferocious elements that man can encounter.
NCB Ireland (1989-90) was skippered by Joe English;
Green Dragon (2008-09) was skippered by Ian Walker;
Irish boatbuilder Killian Bushe was part of the NCB crew. Bushe built the winning boat in the last three Volvo Ocean Races (illbruck 2001-02, ABN AMRO ONE 2005-06, Ericsson 4 2008-09);
32 athletes from Ireland have taken part in the race;
The design of the boat is regulated and the boat must be built for speed.