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Wednesday 21 February 2018

Sun and samba give Brazilian welcome to Volvo boats

Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

AS THE boats finally came into Galway bay last night, the crews could have been forgiven for thinking they had taken a wrong turn.

There on the horizon stood Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue. But the 14.5ft high replica placed on the rooftop of the Galway Business School (GBS) was simply part of the festivities for Brazil Day.

Galway got rhythm yesterday after samba fever took hold of the city.

The sun made an appearance as thousands of spectators came out to mark Brazil Day at the Volvo Ocean Race.

And while the arrival of the boats may have been the talk of the harbour, Salthill celebrated the samba.

The Brazilian Ambassador Pedro Fernando Bretas Bastos visited the events, to the delight of the strong contingent of Brazilian students at the GBS.

A parade through the village culminated in a display of Brazilian dance at the Prom.

Eliane Peres (35) from Sao Paulo came out to enjoy the day and dance: "It reminds me of home. We brought the sun with us, now we want to show the Irish how to dance," she said.

Cassia Batista (23) from Brazil is studying at the GBS. She was delighted to take part in the parade and was eager to see the boats come in.

"I'm loving it, but it reminds me too much of home and is making me homesick," she added.

Despite earlier indications that the boats would reach the harbour by 9pm, organisers of the event were quick to dispel the rumours, insisting it would be the early hours of Tuesday before they arrived.

But the late arrival was welcomed by Michael Coyle of the Galway Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Coyle had his hands full planning the President's Dinner for over 800 people last night. He predicted a "mass exodus" from the event if the boats arrived early but was confident that plenty of revellers would make their way to the docks for the early morning arrival.

Describing the docks as "the logical place to be" at 3am, Mr Coyle added; "Last time they arrived at 3am and it set the tone for what was a marvellous fortnight."

Also planning to light the way for the race boats was Penny Fitzpatrick of Failte Aran in the Aran Islands.

The Islanders lit bonfires at strategic parts of the island to welcome the race back to Galway.

"We didn't know until the last minute when they would actually arrive.

The time kept chopping and changing and we just had to keep track. We had the bonfires ready to go around the island," she said.

Irish Independent

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