In nine months and 39,000 nautical miles, the crews of the Volvo Ocean Race will have met gale-force winds, treacherous seas and sleep deprivation. After completing this ‘Everest of Sailing’, we can all agree that they deserve a party. Lucky that knows just what to do.
Ireland’s button-cute bastion of the wild west will welcome the race on 3 July 2012. Expect big, big things as part of the nine-day festival.
To get us in the mood, we asked a couple of Irishmen who witnessed, from very different viewpoints, the stopover on May 23.
Kerryman Damian Foxall was the Watch Captain with Green Dragon in the 2008/2009 Race, and is the watch captain with Groupama in the 2011/2012 Race. We caught up with him in Miami to ask about his memories of the last Galway stopover.
Galway was one of the more exceptional stopovers. We arrived late evening into a town that had already been partying for a weekend, so they were well warmed up for our arrival. You don’t really see that very often, maybe only one or two times in previous races, where you arrive into a harbour and there are wall-to-wall boats.
In Galway what was amazing was it was so late at night. We got into the port and it was just wall-to-wall people. Being a small town it was just totally receptive to the race coming. Especially with our boat being the Irish boat, it was very, very special.
For most stopovers, I spend time with my family. The nice thing about being in Galway was being able to step away and go to the islands. We went out to the for a weekend and I know a lot of the other guys managed to go up to and .
In the race village I remember there was bands playing every night and it seemed very lively with a lot of action going on. For this year, it’s pretty hard to imagine how they will do better than the 2009 stopover but if they can do as good as last time that would be good enough.
Conor Farrell was living and working in Galway city in the summer of 2009. This is his version of events.
Our first clue about the Volvo Ocean Race stopover was when the docklands, which is normally just a home for oil tankers, was transformed overnight into a kind of Atlantic Monte Carlo. This, we learned, was the race village.
Now Galway never needs a reason to party, but with the Volvo Ocean Race there was definitely an extra buzz. Crowds gathered late into the night for the arrival of the first of the boats – we smugly had a bird’s eye view from our friend’s apartment as the first of the boats arrived in a fog of fireworks and cheers.
The rest of the two weeks were brilliant. We went to free concerts for Aslan, The Stunning, the Hothouse Flowers and The Coronas. The highlight was the Red Arrows display and boat race in Salthill. As we walked out from the city there was a sea of people in the streets staring into the sunshine as the Red Arrows did their amazing flips overhead. It was just such a great atmosphere. Can’t wait for this year.
Excited? You should be. The fleet will arrive on Tuesday 3 July for an Arrivals Party. The city will be well into the swing of things by then though, with the sweet-sounded schedule kicking off on 30 June.
From 10am to 10pm, for the whole nine days, the Race Village will be a hub of live music, dance, games and cinema. The best part is they’re all free. Yes from from DJs to orchestras, The Sawdoctors to Sharon Shannon, Imelda May to Lisa Hannigan, they won’t cost you a penny. If you can’t help getting your networking face on for all these people around, the Global Village business expo is made for you.
We also like how each day of the festival is dedicated to one of the previous stopover countries with the lovely Eyre Square passing as American soil for the 4th of July (naturally). The perfect excuse for fireworks, a public picnic, a brass band, US Navy band and Vaudeville Vamps.
See you .