Volvo Boat Race Heads for Galway Finish Line in July
By Ed Forry
Almost three years ago, in late May 2009, Boston was a stopover port for the Volvo Ocean Race, an around-the-world, nine-month yacht race. The tenth running of the race that year began in Alicante, Spain, and eventually spanned 37,000 nautical miles, withBoston the only American port of call.
In our town, the then-undeveloped Fan Pier in South Boston was the center of race activities, and some unexpected bad weather during the Boston visit, including several days of rain and heavy fog, resulted in a low turnout for the Boston visit.
From Boston, the race set sail for Galway Ireland, and ultimately was completed in St. Petersburg, Russia.
It was quite a different story in Galway, Ireland, where the Volvo Ocean Race was a huge success, with an estimated 600,000 supporters visiting the race village just off Eyre Square during the eight- day stopover; the crowd was estimated to have peaked at 62,000 on the In-Port race day, and the Salthill promenade drew some 120,000 visitors to watch the close-combat race of sail through Galway Bay.
As the boats were arriving from Boston, upwards of 10,000 people came out at 3 a.m. on May 24 to welcome the first yachts, and welcoming bonfires could be seen all along Galway Bay.
The year, Miami will be the only US stopover, but the racing yachts will return to Galway again this summer, but this time the fleet will finish the race there, racing a final leg from Lorient, France, around Ireland and up the west coast to Ireland’s third biggest city.
Again this year the race village will be hosted by Galway Harbour Company (volvooceanracegalway.com). The Volvo Ocean Race Grand Finale will be a eight-day festival, featuring marine, sport, culture and arts, entertainment, and food, with a Galway “Global Village” across the harbor. The events begin June 30 through July 8, with the arrival of the fleet expected for July 3. The In-Port race will be on July 7, followed by the announcement of the winner of the 2011-2012 race.
Galway Harbour has released details about Global Village 2012: It is a business to business initiative based on a trading post concept of open and free showcasing and trading of goods and services to a global audience. The key objective of the Global Village is to create an environment conducive to connecting Irish businesses to the global market and in doing so create a legacy of ongoing business relations long after the Volvo Ocean Race is over.
“The Global Village provides an opportunity for Irish industry to present its wares to a captive global audience. Global Village has been created to utilise the platform of the media coverage … to convey the messages under the categories of Ireland’s leading components, Innovation, Food, Green and Marine... the Global Village will be the host to many of the exciting events planned over the duration of the festival including the arrivals welcome party for the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, a Fourth of July Party, a Celebration of Global Culture, an International Fashion Show and Speakers Platform.”
The summer of 2012 is likely to be a very busy one for tourists in Galway. In addition to the Volvo Race, the town again will stage two other traditional crowd-pleasers, the Galway Arts Festival (July 16-29) (galwayartsfestival.com) and the Galway Races, the annual horse races at Ballybrit (July 25- 31). That seven-day meet showcases 51 races (galway-races.net); the ever popular Ladies Day takes place on Day 4, July 28.