Tomorrow evening heralds the official countdown to the return of one of the greatest success stories in Galway’s history as a 365-day countdown clock is activated in the city. Next year, the Volvo Ocean Race will visit the city for the second time, with the final leg of the event scheduled to enter Galway Bay on July 3.
The previous visit in May 2009 proved to be a monumental event, with 600,000 supporters visiting the city during the stopover. The in-port race alone drew 62,000 people, with 120,000 watching the riveting spectacle from Salthill. In total, the visit injected more than €55 million into the local economy.
To illustrate the event’s success, the €36.5 million spent by spectators and media from outside the local region was the highest recorded at any of the stopover points. The residual effects of the visit are also noteworthy, as the race attracts a cumulative television audience of two billion people, with images of Galway and its scenic bay being broadcast into homes in almost every country in the world.
The countdown party takes place tomorrow night in the Lettermore Suite of the Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill. Proceedings get under way at 5pm with a session by musician Shane Fahy. Television and radio personality Hector O’Heochagain will officially introduce the event at 5.45pm, and he will also be charged with unveiling the digital countdown clock which will be on display for the evening.
It is hoped a permanent home in the harbour may be found for the timepiece.
The new Mayor of Galway will also be present to address the crowd, undertaking one of the office’s very first official duties after last night’s inauguration. Entertainment will be on offer throughout the evening from performers such as Miracle Bell, Jim McKee, Daithí Ó Dronaí and Mystic Force.
The Volvo Ocean Race is renowned as one of the toughest sports events in the world.
Taking place every three years, the race demands the utmost of mental fortitude and physical endurance of the 11 man crews as they navigate more than 39,000 nautical miles around the planet’s most treacherous oceans. This year’s instalment commences in Alicante in Spain on Saturday October 29. A truly global event, the race also incorporates stopovers in Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya in China, Auckland, Itajal in Brazil, Miami, and Lisbon.
The race is scheduled to arrive into Galway on July 3 next year, after making the 485 nautical mile trip from Lorient in France, the ninth and final leg of the event.
A pro-am race will take place on Friday July 6 with the intensely popular in-port race scheduled for the following day
There are proposals to divide the city into nine distinct areas to mark the culture of each of the VOR stops.
Dignitaries and mayors from each place will then be based in each area for the duration of the stopover.