Volvo Ocean Race
The arrival in Galway of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/9 saw over half a million spectators flock to the port to welcome the heroic seafarers for a week of fun-filled events
Battling the high seas to reach Galway, Ireland
One of the most exciting, high-adrenalin yacht races in the world wound its way into Galway City on 23 May. This dramatic, months-long event saw eight of the best professional teams battle with high waves and horrifically inhospitable conditions over 39,000 nautical miles, stopping off at various ports around the globe to reach the historically rich city of Galway in the West of Ireland on Leg 9. The Ireland/Chinese entry, The Green Dragon, is skippered by Britain’s double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, and boasts a wealth of Irish talent, including Ireland’s own Yachtsman of the Year, Damian Foxall. To follow this fast-paced race over each Leg, check out the official Volvo Ocean Race website
A welcome like no other
From 23 May to 6 June 2009, the fastest yachts on the planet took a break from their oceanic endurance test to sail into Galway Bay. Sailors on land and sea enjoyed the stunning sight of these magnificent vessels up close, while mingling with some of the world’s leading yachtsmen. This historic Irish city gave them céad mile fáilte (one hundred thousand welcomes) from Ireland. Over 500 pleasure and support crafts gathered on the more gentle port waters to greet the seafarers through the night, while thousands of spectators lined the quayside bristling with enthusiasm and cheering on the weary teams as they arrived, inluding Ireland’s Green Dragon.
Party time at the Port
While the boats were in town, the city ignited with firework displays and a stunning show by the renowned Red Arrows, free live music in the Race Village from the Hot House Flowers, Sharon Shannon, The Coronas and The Stunning, street performers, food and wine fairs and markets. There was even be an opportunity to try some sailing for yourself with the Volvo Ocean Race Experience, including simulator and grinder challenge; the PUMA mast challenge for those bursting with adrenaline; as well as a little model boat racing. Spectators also adored the In Port Racing, where the teams manoeuvred these Formula 1 racing machines around an inshore course. You can catch up with all the events that took place in Galway for the Volvo Ocean Race 08/09.
Galway, a breathtaking city any time of year
This culturally rich, warm and vibrant city is legendary for its festivals with top annual events, such as the Comedy Festival, the Arts Festival and two Oyster Festivals drawing massive international crowds. As well as being one of Ireland’s biggest hubs for watersports, Galway is a bohemian city that revels in the arts, the old medieval city streets buzz with life and history, while the city’s picturesque location makes it one of Ireland’s most spectacular spots. Enjoy lively nights in the city’s old traditional pubs, soak up truly great seafood in some of the best restaurants in town, or hang out in hip clubs till the early hours. For those who like to see the sights, Galway boasts wonderful ancient buildings, medieval alleys and impressive churches, such as St Nicholas’, and a walking tour of Galway, known as The City of Tribes, is a must for all. You can even stop off to shop for Claddagh Rings or take a peek at the Druid Theatre.
Beyond the city walls
Stretch out beyond Galway City and you’re in for a real treat. The countryside is unique and spectacular, and its coastline is particularly enthralling. With no less than 19 of the island’s 76 Blue Flag beaches, you’ll find hidden coves swathed in powdery golden sand, and you can view the varied ocean-life up close at the Galway Atlantiquarium – the National Aquarium of Ireland – which is located in the pretty coastal town of Salthill. Take a swing at incredible links golf courses, where nature greets you with a considerable challenge; scramble up the Twelve Bens mountain range and enjoy stunning views out over rugged bogland; bliss out with some relaxing fishing on Lough Corrib, or seek out some pampering at incredible spas. For an unbeatable experience, though, you should book a trip to the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking region) in Connemara or the Aran Islands, where you can see the country’s centuries-old traditions living on. What are you waiting for? Get planning your trip to Galway now, and make sure you’re there in time to watch the arrival of the great and the good of the seafaring world...