50,000 expected to see off Ocean RaceJune 5, 2009 - 3:13pm
CROWDS of at least 50,000 are expected to flock to the city tomorrow to bid farewell to the Volvo Ocean Race seven yachts as they set sail from Galway on Leg 8 of the world’s most challenging sailing race.
Sponsors of the Galway Stopover, Fáilte Ireland West, said prior to the event that race would attract at best 140,000 visitors to the city but the glorious sunshine, free concerts, in-port racing and huge publicity surrounding the event means more than 500,000 will have visited the Race village at the Docks and Salthill during the two-weeks of the stopover.
The initial predicted €43 million financial economic windfall for the city will be surpassed and the event now looks set to benefit city businesses to the tune of more than €80 million, according to Fiona Monaghan of Fáilte Ireland West.
“A full report by Deloitte will be published in four weeks but we are confident the economic spin-off from the event will be in the region of €80 million rather than the €43 million predicted.
“So far we estimate 350,000 passed through the Race village and a further 150,000 packed the Promenade in Salthill – we are expecting a further 50,000 between the race village and the Prom for the official farewell ceremony which would bring the final figure to over a half a million people,” she said.
President Mary McAleese will preside over the closing ceremony tomorrow when the 70-foot yachts will pass through the harbour gates for the last time on this round-the- world challenge.
The race kicks off at 3pm and organisers are hoping for a record-breaking crowd to sing along to what has become the anthem of the event – Galway Girl – to cheer on the Green Dragon and its competitors as they begin the next leg to Göteborg in Sweden.
The ceremony starts at 11.30pm with a parade of crews heading down to the boats, which will leave for the starting line at 1.15pm. The biggest flotilla of boats, ever to gather in Galway Bay, up to 1,000 is expected to see them off.
The overwhelming success of the Galway Stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race has positioned the city as an early ‘front runner’ to become a host port again for the 2011-2012 round-the-worldrace, although...