Race festival sails into sunset after giving city an €80m boost
ONE prince, nine days, 39,000 miles, 800,000 visitors, and €80m later, the Volvo Ocean Race finally came to an end yesterday.
Exhausted crew and sailors -- and even more worn-out revellers -- bid farewell to the race and the city of Galway which had taken them to its heart.
And, as the racing yachts packed up to leave the city, some of the city's oldest sailors were following suit. A Viking party which had stayed on site for the duration of the race celebrations was also moving on.
The dozen or so Vikings had decamped to Galway for the nine-day festival. Sleeping on animal skins and cooking on a forge, the group stayed in character throughout -- even braving the elements to wash in a bucket.
Their unusual living arrangements at the Global Village drew huge crowds each day, as they showed families how to battle and forage for food.
"Everything is authentic from the clothes we wear to the way we live. We sleep on straw mattresses with animal skins and use the forge for making broths," said Barry Gaynor, of the Fingal Living History Society.
As the event came to a close, the organisers were praising the phenomenal visitor numbers, which gave a massive boost to the city from tourism.
Official spectator attendance figures for the first seven days of the event show an average of almost 90,000 visits per day to the Race Village and the Global Village. Organisers are confident that overall visits to the nine-day festival will be in excess of 800,000.
John Killeen, president of "Let's do it Global", said the interest generated by the race finale and festival was "phenomenal" and exceeded all expectations. He added that he believed the economic impact to Galway would exceed €80m.
"From the moment the six boats competing in the 39,000-mile round-the-world race arrived to that tumultuous welcome in the early hours of Tuesday morning we knew that the festival was going to be an unparalleled success," he said.
And as thousands continued to flock to the tents at the Global Village one low-key visitor garnered little attention. The Prince of Sweden, Carl Philip, took the opportunity to tour the village on Saturday.
One of the biggest attractions of the race festivities was the fireworks display for the Fourth of July, which attracted around 70,000 people to enjoy the spectacle.
The final race of the festival, the in-port race on Galway Bay which was won by the US boat Puma, was watched by millions of TV viewers on broadcasts by 47 networks.