----- Press Release -----
A worldwide audience will turn to Ireland as the Volvo Ocean Race reaches a dramatic conclusion in less than three weeks time when the six teams finish their 39,000 mile race around the planet. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to come to Galway for the finish leading to a multi-million euro boost for the economy.
Since the start in Spain last November, the overall race leader is French entry Groupama 4 skippered by Franck Cammas with a crew of ten that includes veteran sailor Damian Foxall from Kerry. As many as three other teams could still upset the standings in the closest ever conclusion of the race.
The six boats have battled storms, ice threats, freezing temperatures and searing heat as well as a series of challenging equipment problems as their 70 foot state of the art racing yachts are pushed beyond their limits.
Ireland will be the tenth host-country in this edition of the race after Spain, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, New Zealand, Brazil, United States of America, Portugal and since Friday (15th June) France. Only Sweden, Germany, Russia and Britain have ever hosted a grand finale in the 39-year history of the race.
Each crew-member has worked almost 20 hours per day, non-stop for up to three weeks at a time living on freeze-dried food with no home comforts while trying to race as hard as possible. Ireland will be the setting for scenes of both joy and heart-break which will be broadcast live to a global audience.
Preliminary research for the race so far indicates a cumulative TV audience of 2.1 million viewers plus 35 million visits to the race website (http://www.VolvoOceanRace.com). Irish fans are the fourth highest Facebook followers accounting for over 13,000 ‘likes’ out of 183,000 people. These figures only account for the first five months of the race that started in Alicante, Spain in November 2011.
The previous race stopped in Galway in 2009 where crowds of 600,000 visitors led to a €55 million boost. Organisers are aiming to repeat this with the finale to this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race and hotels are close to full capacity in the Galway region as fans and crew families are expected from around the world.
The Galway port area is being transformed once again for the arrival of the boats on or after the 2nd July as they sail the final leg of the race from the Breton port of Lorient. An entertainment programme comprising mostly free events has been planned, starting on Saturday 30th June when the fleet prepares to depart France for Ireland.
The Volvo Ocean Race started as the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973 and has had two Irish yachts compete (1989-90 NCB Ireland and 2008-09 Green Dragon) for what is the undisputed top trophy in ocean racing.