Volvo — the final figures show fascination drew unprecedented visitors

Galway’s bid to stage another stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race has been boosted by figures just released of visitors to the Race Village.

More than 650,000 - a figure well above the expected 140,000 - visited the Volvo Ocean Race Village and Salthill for the two-week stopover from May 23 to June 6.

The huge crowds can be attributed in part to the sunny weather as visitor numbers increased with every passing day, culminating in record crowds of almost 200,000 for the in-port and pro am race during the Bank Holiday weekend.

The online international coverage generated by the event reached 1,800 references in 46 countries around the world, while radio consisted of 170 reports from 46 stations in 17 countries.

The largest sporting event and festival to come to Ireland in 2009 has been billed now as a fantastic success story, placing Galway and Ireland firmly on the world stage of a two billion global audience.

Let’s Do It Galway, the organisers of the Galway Volvo Ocean Race Festival, advertising and communications campaign resulted in more than 3,000 Facebook friends, 400 Bebo, and almost 500 Twitter followers.

The Galway Volvo Ocean Race website has to date attracted 200,000 visitors with 117,755 from 121 countries/territories; the United Kingdom, USA, and France being the highest density after Ireland.

Festival director, Maria Moynihan Lee, stated: “Our mission was to build a core community of followers from the moment the Volvo Ocean Race started in Alicante in October 2008. This was the seed from which grew the final audience figure of 650,000.”

SMS and Bluetooth technology were also used in association with a number of the technology-based supporters of the event. SMS proved to be extremely useful during the late night arrivals’ of the fleet on Sunday May 24. Media Port supplied Bluetooth technology for mobile users, who passing within 100 metres of the Race Village, were provided with daily updates on the Volvo Ocean Race events schedule. More than 104,000 mobile phones were contacted since the launch of the Galway Volvo Ocean Race message campaign and at the end of the event it delivered in excess of 182,000 message notifications.

The huge fascination with the event was also reflected in the Western Development Commission and Pix.ie, competition which broke an Irish record for the most photographs with more than 15,000 photographs uploaded to pix.ie during the two-week event.

Meanwhile offshore the Green Dragon picked up a second podium finish on the leg from Galway to Marstaand. Having led or sailed in second place for much of the trek to Sweden, the race leaders Ericsson 4 eventually took the honours, with Puma just snatching second place for a second time in the race. The two boats finished with 20 metres of each other.

The Dragon also won the 24-hour run prize for leg 8, having covered 329 miles in 24 hours.

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