You expect to smell salt in sea air. You expect sea air to blow your hair back like your hairdryer never could. You might even expect sea air to carry Johnny Depp swinging into port with a rose between his teeth. This summer in Galway, the sea air will be carrying something even more special; the flipping, flapping, splashing finesse of the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race finish.
And what a race. An epic, 39,000 nautical-mile, the world-is-a-racetrack circumnavigation yacht race held every four years since 1973. It’s serious business, except for all the in-port parties held at each of the stopover cities.
made quite the impression when it was included as a stopover in the 2008-2009 race. Over 650,000 people celebrated the arrival of the wet and weary crews, with 10,000 people lining the harbour walls in the dark hours of 3am on 24 May 2009 to welcome the fleet into Ireland.
This year, will be the finish line, so you can imagine the anticipation. No less than a nine-day festival is in store from June 30, with marine, sport, culture and arts, entertainment and food. Think concerts by Maverick Sabre and Sharon Shannon, a ballet interpretation of Alice Through the Looking Glass and empty-tummies-be-gone international food markets. That’s only a taster of the craic in store, so stay tuned to find out exactly what’s on.
We’re excited – but we’re not the only ones.
Those brave racing sailors can’t wait to return to Galway either. It seems when you’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a baking sun on your back for 14 hours a day, the memory of a cool Atlantic breeze is one to cherish.
Our woman on the deck, Anna Lynch, has asked the sailors what they remember about the last Galway stop and what they’re looking forward to:
There is absolutely no question that the highlight of the race for me was the arrival into Galway. The welcome we had and the fact that the race touched all the people in the town, and in the town, everybody touched the race. It was probably one of the best days of my life.
At the moment we are sailing on the opposite side of the world. But already it looks like it will be a fantastic party for our arrival in Galway. It was a brilliant stopover last time, lots of people and a great atmosphere. À bientôt aux Irlandais!
We had a great time in Galway the last time and I’m really looking forward to getting back there again. The hospitality, the friendship that comes out of there is fantastic and it’s almost like going home. You know that’s how they greet you, so looking forward to getting back there.
When we were there the weather was just fantastic. It was beautiful, just beautiful. So if they can line that up again we’re going to stay there! It was a week of perfect weather. I think it was one of the biggest turnouts and the place just went off!
I couldn’t be happier that Galway was announced as the end of race port because quite frankly – don’t tell anybody this – it was my favourite stopover the last time. The golf, the beer, the camaraderie… I can’t wait to get there.
This year’s Volvo Ocean Race festivities will take place from 30 June – 8 July.