Volvo Race stopover can transform Ireland

A year to go: Brian Kenny of Kenny Galway with Conor Fitzpatrick of Volvo, Fintan  Healy CEO Lets Do It Global, with John Killeen and Enda Coneen at the launch of the one year countdown to the Volvo Ocean Race 2012 stopover in Galway.  Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

A year to go: Brian Kenny of Kenny Galway with Conor Fitzpatrick of Volvo, Fintan Healy CEO Lets Do It Global, with John Killeen and Enda Coneen at the launch of the one year countdown to the Volvo Ocean Race 2012 stopover in Galway. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

A “global village” will be at heart of next year’s Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Galway with business opportunities a new priority for the organisers.

With the finale of the 38,000 nautical mile ocean race taking place next July, Galway organisers Let’s Do It Global believe the stopover will be a huge corporate event on which Ireland must capitalise, in addition to providing entertainment for the 650,000 visitors.

New CEO of Let’s Do it Global, Fintan Healy, believes the concept of a global village is new and unique to our shores.

“This is an opportunity to shape and transform Ireland for the next decade.” he says. “This is a massive opportunity to attract investment in Ireland using the Global Village, and attracting some 3,000 CEOs from across the globe to Galway.”

The new Global Village will be based in South Park and plans are in place to build a connecting bridge from the docks to the village, where a viewing platform also will be erected for the in-port racing.

Although the bridge will be a temporary structure, it could become a permanent feature, depending on planning permission and available funds.

The village will be based on four themes - innovation, food, green, and marine - which the organisers believe Irish businesses can use as a “platform to engage the decision makers of leading international companies and showcase Ireland to global audience”.

Within the village, organisers will offer each participating country exhibitor space to demonstrate their products and services. It will also include an entertainment pavilion which will feature a “speaker’s platform”, live Irish music, and conference and media facilities. The organisers also hope to stage an international fashion show, inviting a representative designer from each of the port stopover countries to design a collection that represents their style and culture.

Healy says the Volvo stopover can be viewed as a starting point in Ireland’s race to recovery.

Although the focus has moved to utilising the Volvo stopover as a business forum, Harbour master Brian Sheridan says there will also be s trong emphasis on children.

“It will also be all about kids and there will new on-water entertainment with Volvo bringing its ‘Try Sailing’ youth project to Galway,” he says.

Volvo aims to introduce 14,000 children world wide to sailing, using supplied training dinghies, while Volvo will also jointly stage with each host port Optimist competitions for the more experienced young sailors from each country.

A total of 40 Optimists will be provided for the Team Racing Series, which will be held on the weekend before the in-port race and leg start in each of the stopovers. In Galway there will be a special two-day schedule for the event.

The dinghies will be branded to represent the Volvo Open 70 teams for the upcoming race and the Optimist racing teams will have the chance to meet the Volvo Ocean Race crew they are representing.

Let’s Do it Global chairman, Enda O’Coineen, says the finale will be one of the most exciting yet.

“As with all sports, hosting the final is the pinnacle event. We are going to utilise this opportunity by engaging with all Irish-based companies so that we can create a business to business platform to connect them with the 3,000 CEOs who have planned to visit Galway over the race festival period.

“As an island nation, we are leveraging our maritime heritage to host an event with both the massive global audience and a corporate presence rivalled only be Formula One racing. Once in Galway the 3,000 CEOs will be embraced by the vibrant culture of Ireland and capitivated by the innovative Irish businesses they meet at the Global Village.”

John Killeen, president of Let’s Do It Global, says the stopover is a great opportunity for Ireland, using the four pillars of innovation, food, green and marine to showcase the work being done here.

“Our first stop is to inform all the main companies what we are planning and to see if we can work together to help promote their work both here and, if required, in each of the stopover ports.”

The 2011/12 edition of the world’s most arduous ocean event departs Alicante on November 5 via Capetown, Abu Dhabi, Sanya (China ), Auckland, Itajai (Brazil ), Miami, Lisbon, and Lorient, with an expected arrival into Galway on July 3.

 

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