Sunday 4 December 2016

Simon Coveney - FG's version of 'Blue Steel'

Published 22/01/2016 | 02:30

(L-R) Minister Simon Coveney, Crona N Dhlaigh Lord Mayor of Dublin and Ant Middleton at the launch of the Venture Cup 2016, which will take place in June of this year around the Irish coast. Photo: Mark Condren
(L-R) Minister Simon Coveney, Crona N Dhlaigh Lord Mayor of Dublin and Ant Middleton at the launch of the Venture Cup 2016, which will take place in June of this year around the Irish coast. Photo: Mark Condren
One of the Powerboats that launched the Venture Cup 2016, which will take place in June of this year around the Irish coast pictured outside Dublin harbour. Photo: Mark Condren

We were promised David Gandy - the 'really ridiculously good-looking' global supermodel of the piercing blue eyes and the smouldering Dolce & Gabbana campaigns.

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But tragically, he was unavoidably detained and unable to make the launch of the Venture Cup - the fastest ocean race on the planet, coming to our coastline this summer.

Instead, we got the "really, really ridiculously good-looking" Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and his smouldering way with the beef industry.

We know. The comedown could have been far, far worse. Still, though ... David Gandy.

But Simon eschewed the 'Blue Steel' modelling move, made famous by Ben Stiller in his film 'Zoolander'.

As if aware of certain stirrings of disappointment in the room, he strove to make up for it in sheer enthusiasm, promising that with the Venture Cup, Irish people were going to be treated to something "the likes of which they have never seen before."

"We are gonna have some of our biggest ports and harbours turned into amphitheatres," he said, adding that Irish people will also be "listening to a noise they've never heard before."

"Something that's on a parallel with ... a Formula One circuit race," he explained. "The kind of deafening noise you'd hear from powerful engines, from big teams with big egos that are competing with each other in a dangerous sport, but one that is just a fantastic spectacle - and that's what this is going to be."

He said that even the fishermen in Killybegs will be "taken aback" to see the powerboats moving at speeds of at least 50 knots - or almost 100kph, for landlubbers.

"You can tell I'm quite excited," the Minister subsequently apologised.

Later, he said it doesn't even really matter if the weather isn't good, explaining; "You want the seas to be a little rough to challenge the teams."

Described as "the perfect marriage of bravery, technology and spectacle", the Venture Cup is the world's longest, toughest and most prestigious powerboat race.

Some 600,000 spectators are expected to turn out in Dublin for the grand finale on June 18.

Kicking off on June 11 in Cork, it will move up along the Wild Atlantic Way to Dingle, then Galway, skirt the coastline to Killybegs, travel to Belfast and then down to Dublin.

The event's charity partner is Haven - which assists communities in Haiti, still devastated by the earthquake of six years ago.

Haven founder Leslie Buckley, who is also chairman of Independent News and Media, said that Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Half the population lives on less than a dollar a day.

Former SAS man and star of British TV show 'SAS: Who Dares Wins' Ant Middleton will be taking part in the race and explained that the speed will be physically gruelling.

"The pain threshold comes with hitting the water at such a high speed, it's constant thudding, thudding, thudding and it takes a massive toll on your body," he explained.

"You're battered and bruised by the time you come out. After an hour or two you'd want to come off, trust me, and you have to stay switched on."

A bit like politics, then.

Although Simon revealed he would "love" another go at his current portfolio. "I'd be very happy to get the same job back but that decision is well above my pay grade," he ruefully quipped.

Irish Independent

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