City nails its colour to the mast with spectacular finale festival
THEY got a fantastic welcome first time out. It was arguably bettered this time.
And now, skippers and crew from the Volvo Ocean Race yachts have promised to bring the race back to Galway again.
Irishman Damian Foxall was over the moon at his boat Groupama's win yesterday and said the reception in the City of the the Tribes should guarantee the city a permanent stop on the race's calendar.
"Galway seems to own the event now. The race is the right size for Galway and Galway is the right size for the race," he said.
Mr Foxall praised the city and John Killeen of Let's Do It Global for all the preparation that had gone into the finale.
The Kerryman said the nine-month race had been gruelling for the crew and their families, and that his children, Naomh and Oisin, had travelled around the world with the race, attending the Volvo school en route.
He is now looking forward to spending the rest of the summer at home in Kerry. "I'm looking forward to going home to Derrynane and putting my feet in the sand," he said.
While Ken Read, the skipper of the Puma boat, was exhausted after the race, he insisted "There's no place else I'd rather be than Galway."
He also believes that the latest success has secured the city's position on the race schedule.
"Why mess with success? It works as a race stop or a finale. It's the perfect marriage between the race and crews and the city," he said.
The American is now planning on enjoying a family holiday in the West.
"I have a love affair with Galway and the reaction we get here is phenomenal. If you ever need an ambassador for Galway I'm your guy," he said.
Mike Sanderson, the Team Sanya skipper, said he was blown away by the reception given to the boats.
While his boat finished last in the tight-run race, Mr Sanderson said he was now looking forward to spending some time in Galway with his family.
The father of two was greeted by his wife, British yachtswoman Emma Richards, and two children -- Amelia (4) and two-year-old Merrick.
"I've never been so pleased to come last in a race in my life. It's been a long nine months," he joked.
The New Zealand yachtsman also praised the thousands of spectators who came out to cheer the boats home until 4am yesterday.
"We'd heard about the crowds for the last race but this time with the weather and we were even later getting in, it was amazing. I never believed it would be as big as it was or that so many people would be out at 4am on a Tuesday morning," he said.
"For me it's very important to keep places like Galway in the race. It really does have the right culture for the race and it's very personable.
"You can see that people here genuinely love sailing and sporting events, that makes such a difference compared to a city like Miami where it's so difficult to make an impact," he said.