Supporting businesses of the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Galway have now passed the 100 mark as the fleet prepares for the in-port racing duel in Boston on Saturday.
Stopover organisers, Let’s Do It Galway, say they are delighted to have the backing of so many local companies as the countdown begins for the race arrival in Galway on May 23/24 for two weeks.
As expected Ireland’s entry the Green Dragon continues to attract a huge turn-out, particularly in America’s most Irish city, Boston. Irish sailor Damien Foxall describes it as “warm-up” before the crew arrives home to Ireland where they and the other entrants can expect a traditional Irish welcome with the coastline lit with bomb-fires.
Given that the leg from Boston to Galway is traditionally short and fast, the yachts are expected to arrive in quick succession from Saturday afternoon onwards as they cross the finish line at Mutton Ireland. They will immediately be received into the race village in Formula 1 style as the biggest sailing party in Ireland begins.
The emphasis in Galway will be to showcase Ireland’s traditional strengths on music and craic, and already the organisers have dubbed it the “party stopover”. After the official opening on Sunday, it is expected the yachts will be lifted out of the water on Monday for repairs and maintenance before the in-port racing begins on Saturday May 30. The Red Arrows Sir Display will proceed the start of the racing, while Sharon Shannon will headline a evening of Ireland’s best traditional music in what is expected to be a weekend of family fun.
Let’s Do It Galway have attracted some of the biggest names in Irish music who will perform every night on the two stages to be erected in the docks, the Topaz Main Stage and the Breathnach Quay Stage. Headline acts include the Mairtin O’Connor, Hothouse Flowers, The Stunning, Trad on the Prom, The Coronas, Lucia Evans, Oleku, Aslan, Keith McDonald, and The Cunningham Sound. All concerts are free, and will be supported by a number of acts to suit both adults and children on what is described as the Green Dragon Route. These include circus acts, a boat show, brass bands, puppet theatre at various venues during the two party weekends. In addition art exhibitions and installations will be located throughout the city and county.
Although the Dragon finished seventh in leg six, they are currently fifth overall, and hopes are high within the camp that a podium finish can be captured for their arrival into Galway.
That will of course be dependent on the weather as the Dragon crew have accepted their boat to be some five to 10 per cent slower in certain reaching conditions. In other legs navigational skill and favourable conditions have made a difference, and skipper Ian Walker maintains that the Dragon boasts some of the “best sailors” in the world.
"You always enjoy it more if you are neck-and-neck,” he says, “ but this is still a fantastic race, getting a boat around the world. Never as much fun as winning, but we've had good moments and I'm sure we'll have more.”
During the final stages of leg six into Boston as teams faced 20 knot winds on a pitch-black night, with thick fog and zero visibility, the Green Dragon was motivated by the promise of a huge Irish welcome, and ‘Green Dragon butties’.
Once again that taste of home was immediately on hand with organic Irish fillet beef, fresh potato wedges topped with sea salt, West Cork country relish, and freshly baked bread supplied by Good Food Ireland.
Good Food Ireland is promising this will be typical of the Irish hospitality that can be expected at the Galway stopover - and on this occasion they will be supplying not just the Dragon, but all crews of the Volvo Ocean Race when the fleet reaches Galway on May 23.