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Dun Laoghaire 'couldn't afford' to host race that earned €55m for Galway

Dun Laoghaire has again missed out on the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race -- because it could not afford the multi million euro cost.

Its failure to bid for a stage of the 2009 race sparked a political row among local councillors last May who pointed out that the race stopping at Galway attracted 600,000 people to the city and generated €55m for the local economy.

Now Galway has again been shortlisted as a possible stopover for the 2012 race. Lorient in France and Lisbon in Portugal are also bidding to land the lucrative race leg.

Today, a Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council spokesman confirmed that Dun Laoghaire Rathdown did not apply to be a stopover port for the 2012 Volvo Ocean Race.

"The costs associated with hosting such an event are substantial and we weren't in a position to underwrite these costs," the spokesman said.

Support

John Kileen, chairman of Let's Do It Galway, which oversaw the successful bid last time, said Government support was needed to bring the race to Galway again.

It cost about €20m last year to bring the race to Galway and to fund the construction and running costs of the 70 footer Irish entry, the Green Dragon yacht. About €8m came in State funding through Failte Ireland.

It is expected similar funds would be required to bring the round the world race back to Ireland. An independent consultancy study by Deloitte found the impact of the race was 30pc above initial estimates, with €45m in direct expenditure and €10m in indirect expenditure in Galway and the west.

Despite the recession, the VOR provided an economic spin-off just behind that generated by the 2006 Ryder Cup, which was valued at €143m, the report said.

The race generated 200,000 bed nights in the area in late May and early June, achieving twice the impact of the Volvo 2008-2009 race stopover in Singapore, the race said.

Ireland had the highest spend per capita of any of the nine stopover ports involved in the 2009 race and pointed the way forward for other Irish ports to follow Galway's lead, sailing enthusiasts said.

Advantage

Supporters said that Dun Laogharie, with its long sailing traditions, was also well placed to take advantage of the growth in sailing activities. The Dun Laoghaire Regatta had 470 boats and 3,500 sailors afloat on Dublin Bay in July.

In May, Fianna Fail local election candidates for Ballybrack, Blackrock and Dun Laoghaire sharply criticised the Fine Gael/Labour-led Council for not bidding to host the Volvo Race.

"Why did our sleepy council in Dun Laoghaire not bid or this event?" they asked.

Dun Laoghaire was the "prime sailing and leisure port" in the country with "a state of the art marina, a superb harbour" and good rail and road access.

However, the town was also recently beaten to the post by Galway in its bid to host next year's International Offshore Powerboat Championships, which have been described as the Formula 1 of racing.

mlavery@herald.ie


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