Following the huge success in Galway when it was the finish of the transatlantic leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, Ireland, will again feature in the new route for 2011-12. The fleet will race from Lorient in France back to Galway on Ireland's west coast.
Galway, whose twin town is Lorient, has fought an intense contest against the other bidding ports to win back the event for a second edition and the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 will complete its lap around the globe in Ireland's ‘cultural heart', where the final prizegiving will be held.
The Taoiseach (the prime minister of Ireland, Brian Cowen), stated:
"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 55 million Euros 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".
The stopover in Galway during May 2009 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', 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.
"The interest in hosting the Volvo Ocean Race, particularly in Europe, has been quite overwhelming," said Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad, as the last of the European ports 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.
The Volvo Ocean Race traces its origins back to 1973 and is the world's premier offshore sailing race. The Volvo Open 70 racing boat is sailed by professional athletes, who race around the world with the prevailing winds.
For media information on the Volvo Ocean Race, please contact:
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Tim Stonton, Picture Desk Manager (in Spain)
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Editors' Notes: The Volvo Ocean Race
- The next Volvo Ocean Race will start in the Spanish port of Alicante in the autumn of 2011
- Cape Town, Lisbon and Lorient have already been confirmed as stopover ports
- Galway's twinned town is Lorient, France
- 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 2011-12 race will be the 11th edition of the event
- The design of the boat is regulated and the boat is built for speed
- 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