Irish businesses back Ireland’s Volvo entry

Just a week before the world’s greatest ocean race begins, Ireland’s entry, the Green Dragon, has been handed a major financial boost.

Galway businessmen John Killeen, Eamon Conneely, and Enda O’Coineen - the backers of this project from the start - have now put together a business group, entitled the Shamrock Challenger Ltd, to support the Irish Green Dragon racing team in the Volvo Ocean Race which starts in Alicante Spain on October 11.

The named members of the syndicate, to be headed by Bank of Ireland chairman Richard Burrows as chairman, include John O'Sullivan, Jed Pierse, Gerard Barrett, Eamon Conneely, Michael Cotter, Tom Roche, Denis O'Brien, John Killeen, Gerard O'Hare, Brian Lynch, John Flaherty, Enda O'Coineen, John Coyle, Anne Heraty, and Paul Carroll.

Chairman of Let’s Do It Global, Enda O'Coineen, said: “ In a tough economic climate, this is a collective promotion for the island of Ireland. We must be positive and this is a unique maritime marketing opportunity for tourism, business, and sport."

He believed the syndicate, formed to own the boat, is a “dynamic group” without whom the project would not have progressed.

Let's Do It Global is a not for profit entity responsible for bringing the Volvo Ocean Race to Ireland and for entering the Green Dragon Team in the race.

The Government, through Failte Ireland, has supported bringing this major sporting event and festival to Ireland, based on quantifiable returns to the economy. A condition of the support was that the team entry be supported from the private sector. This is now two-thirds complete and it is hoped that a final group will join the challenge.

Commenting on the syndicate announcement, Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said: "The Irish Government is proud to be associated with this ambitious project to secure an Irish stopover in Galway. An independent benefit analysis, conducted by Deloitte on behalf of Fáilte Ireland, estimates the total value to the local economy of the race event at €43 million. This is a good example of a productive partnership between the State and private investors to bring another prestigious international sporting event to Ireland as part of Fáilte Ireland's International Sports Tourism Initiative."

The special purpose boat, built on time and on budget, reflects the latest in technology and design. Having successfully qualified to enter the race by completing a tough qualification sail of 2,000 miles, it is now in its final stages before the race starts.

Richard Burrows said: "On a personal basis, I am delighted to support the Green Dragon team skippered by Ian Walker, a double Olympic medalist and former America's Cup Skipper. It is an impressive team and they have set high, yet achievable, targets for the race.

"With Irish world class sailors on the team such as Damian Foxhall, Justin Slattery, and Ian Moore, this boat ownership syndicate is a great way to get behind a worthwhile venture to promote Ireland and our maritime potential.”

The Lets Do It Global organisation plans to reach out to the Irish diaspora around the 11 countries that the race visits in addition to the schools programme in Ireland.

The Volvo Ocean Race commences this Saturday October 4with the inport racing before departing from Alicante the following Saturday October 11 to sail to Capetown. They are expected to arrive in Capetown on November 3, continue to Cochin, Singapore, Qingdao, Rio de Janeiro, and Boston before arriving in Galway on May 23 for a two week stopover. The race then continues to Stockholm, Maarstrand, and St Petersburg where it finishes in late June 2009.Irish businesses back Ireland’s Volvo entry

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