Fireworks ahead as city gears up for €80m Ocean Race finale
ANYONE familiar with the mind-bending puzzle game Tetris will have an idea of the challenge facing Captain Brian Sheridan this week.
The Galway harbourmaster has grappled with a massive logistical exercise to organise the vessels heading into the port for the lucrative Volvo Ocean Race finale.
More than 850,000 visitors are expected to descend on the region for the nine-day festival worth €80m to the economy.
The highlight will come when six yachts, which have been taking part in the round-the-world race, arrive into port on July 3.
It is probably the most significant maritime event ever to happen in the history of the port of Galway.
There will be more than 300 leisure craft descending on the port and a further 200 out in the bay each day.
After nine months at sea the six Volvo Boats will be welcomed into Galway by President Michael D Higgins on July 3 as they battle it out in the final leg of the race from Lorient in France to Galway.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to line the bay as the race finishes between Salthill and the docks.
On July 4 there will be a grand parade, a fireworks display over Galway Bay and a party to mark American Independence Day.
A number of free open-air concerts on the waterfront stage are expected to add to the festival atmosphere in the dockside race village, with the Sawdoctors and Sharon Shannon performing.
A Global Village erected for the event will promote job creation possibilities in the region. It will showcase everything from green energy to marine-related products, and will also display artisan food products.
Event co-ordinators Let's Do It Global believe the event will break even, with a total budget of €10.5m for the event.
Let's Do It Global managing director Micheline McNamara said they could not have run the event without generous 'benefit-in-kind', with businesses gifting everything from portaloos to insurance cover.
The event received €4.1m from Failte Ireland, which covered the fees for the race, generated a further €2.09m in fundraising and received €900,000 in sponsorship.
Ms McNamara said the finale would also attract hundreds of chief executives of major global firms into the city -- with the region expected to attract a bigger slice of corporate spend on this occasion.
"As it is the final, every time they talk about the race internationally, Galway and Ireland are mentioned as the final destination," she said.
Ms McNamara said visitors were expected to stay longer this time as it is the final, whereas in 2009 it was a 'stopover' on the race and people had to move on to the next stop-off point.