It’s not just about Galway, ya know

I’ve had my fill.

They’re claiming it for themselves.

As usual.

They’re not very good at sharing.

But we always knew that!

It’s not every day burly, tanned, weather-beaten men arrive on our shores, well unless they come in from Aran! And I certainly don’t think it fair that Galway gets to claim this one for themselves.

So next weekend when those magnificent yachts come across the horizon from Boston to Galway Bay we should all be there with open arms. We should be there to support the home team and all those partaking in one of the greatest races around the world.

The Volvo Ocean Race is an exceptional test of sailing prowess and human endeavour which has been built on the spirit of great seafarers - fearless men who sailed the world’s oceans aboard square-rigged clipper ships more than a century ago.

Their challenge back then was not a race as such, but recording the fastest time between ports. This meant new levels of pride for themselves and great recognition for their vessel.

Today it is, quite simply, the Everest of sailing.

And it is hitting our shores in just a few days.

During the nine months of the 2008-09 Volvo Race, which started in Alicante, Spain in October 2008 and concludes in St Petersburg, Russia, during late June 2009, the teams will sail over 37,000 nautical miles of the world’s most treacherous seas via Cape Town, Kochi, Singapore, Qingdao, around Cape Horn to Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Galway, Goteborg, and Stockholm.

Each of the seven entries has a sailing team of 11 professional crew members, and the race requires their utmost skills, physical endurance, and competitive spirit as they race day and night for more than 30 days at a time on some of the legs. They will each take on different jobs on board the boat, and on top of these sailing roles, there will be two sailors that have had medical training, as well as a sailmaker, an engineer and a media specialist.

During the race the crews will experience life at the extreme: no fresh food is taken on board so they live off freeze dried fare; they will experience temperature variations from -5 to +40 degrees Celsius and will only take one change of clothes. They will trust their lives to the boat and the skipper and experience hunger and sleep deprivation.

So it seems only fair that we all join in for the two weeks or so they’re in the country.

Just because they port in Galway doesn’t mean the event is just for Galway residents.

It’s an uplifting celebration of talent, skill, and endurance, plus there’s lots of music, food, and general merriment to be had.

Any excuse for a party, and who won’t admit that we need one?


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