Buoyant Coveney happy to jump ship
Marine Minister Simon Coveney swapped the choppy political waters of the Dail for the warmer seas off the Spanish coast at the weekend as he saw off the Irish-sponsored entry in the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race.
Mr Coveney travelled on board Team Sanya for two inshore laps on Saturday before braving the elements and plunging into the Mediterranean as the Chinese vessel went to sea for the first leg from Alicante to Cape Town.
The vessel is co-sponsored by Discover Ireland with Galway playing host to the final leg of the global race next July.
Mr Coveney wasn't the only personality soaking up the salt air, as former footballer Zinedine Zidane was on board the Azzam, skippered by British sailor Ian Walker, who captained the Irish vessel Green Dragon in the last Volvo race three years ago.
The 45,000-mile race will end in Galway next July after taking in stops in Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya in China, Auckland, Miami, Lisbon and Lorient.
The event is expected to be a major tourism and business boost to the city, bringing in potentially up to €80m.
However, Ireland's hopes suffered an early setback. Amid windy conditions in the Mediterranean, the boat's hull was damaged in 10-metre high waves while sailing about 35 miles south-east of Motril, on the coast of Spain.