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Ireland Working on America's Cup Bid Since January Says Minister Simon Coveney

27th July 2021
America's Cup Race Day 7 in March between Emirates Team New Zealand and the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team with Auckland's Sky Tower in the background. Minister Simon Coveney has said that a successful bid to host the America’s Cup yacht race would establish Ireland as a “leader of the blue economy within the EU
America's Cup Race Day 7 in March between Emirates Team New Zealand and the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team with Auckland's Sky Tower in the background. Minister Simon Coveney has said that a successful bid to host the America’s Cup yacht race would establish Ireland as a “leader of the blue economy within the EU Credit: Studio Borlenghi

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has confirmed that a team has been working on Ireland’s bid for the America’s Cup since January of this year.

The world’s biggest and oldest sailing event is ranked third only to the Olympics and a Football World Cup in sporting value for a host country.

Global viewership for the race in New Zealand this year was 940 million.

The current holders of the America’s Cup, Team New Zealand, have been exploring alternative venues after reportedly turning down a bid from their home nation’s government worth NZ$99 million, or some €58.3 million.

Ireland is on a shortlist, with Cork harbour as venue, and a final decision will be made in mid-September, Coveney said.

Coveney confirmed that Belfast and Dublin had also been assessed initially, but Cork won out in terms of infrastructure and international links – and the fact the city is built on one of the world’s finest natural harbours.

Galway was not considered due to lack of sufficient infrastructure and international connectivity, he said.

“Galway did host two Volvo Ocean Races and a lot of New Zealand sailors regard it as one of the most successful sporting events of all time,” Coveney said.

“There were some financial issues after the second Volvo ocean race, but that is a separate issue,” he said.

As an Irish port, Cork Harbour won out in terms of its infrastructure and international links says Minister Coveney Photo: Bob BatemanAs an Irish port, Cork Harbour won out in terms of its infrastructure and international links says Minister Coveney Photo: Bob Bateman

“We had New Zealanders asking us about Galway, but essentially it was down to infrastructure and international aviation links,” he said.

Global sports investment group Origin Sports, headed by Cork-based Stewart Hosford, recently led a fact-finding visit to Cork for Team New Zealand’s assessment team.

The former Cork dockyard, a 44-acre site in Cobh, could provide a race village, and owners Doyle Shipping Group have been very supportive, Coveney said.

Team New Zealand is the holder of the America's Cup Team New Zealand is the holder of the America's Cup Photo: Studio Borlenghi

“We have made the case that we can replicate a home here in Cork harbour for Team New Zealand which has many similarities to Auckland,” he said.

Coveney declined to comment on a figure for hosting the event but said that Ernst and Young were liaising with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on a detailed cost-benefit analysis.

“How we fund it, whether it is through a combination of urban renewal and other funds, has to be worked out, but it won’t happen if we don’t show the economic benefit”, he said.

In 2017, New Zealand’s business ministry estimated the America's Cup would be worth between 355 million euros to 592 million euros to the economy between 2018 and 2021 and hosting the event would create between 4700 and 8300 jobs.

The 2021 America's Cup was the most watched edition around the worldThe 2021 America's Cup was the most watched

However, New Zealand recorded heavy losses on hosting the event due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coveney has said that a successful bid to host the America’s Cup yacht race would establish Ireland as a “leader of the blue economy within the EU” and would also be a significant expression of the Government’s “Global Ireland” initiative”.

Race Day 3 and spectator boats watch the action in Auckland Harbour during the 36th America's Cup in March 2021Race Day 3 and spectator boats watch the action in Auckland Harbour during the 36th America's Cup in March 2021

Auckland's Dockside Race Village with Rock The Dock with Rod Stewart in full swing in MarchAuckland's Dockside Race Village with Rock The Dock with Rod Stewart in full swing in March

“Some 2.5 million people came to see it when it was last in Europe, and we have taken a lot of learning from the Valencia experience,” Coveney said.

He said a successful bid would “fast-track Project Ireland 2040 investment in Cork, in particular Cork harbour’s ambition in becoming Ireland’s offshore renewable energy hub by supporting €5bn capital deployment in wind projects, creating 10,000 jobs over the next decade.”

Dr Val Cummins of Simply Blue Energy said that hosting an event like the America’s Cup would focus attention on Ireland’s island potential and its blue economy.

Professor sailor Maurice “Prof” O’Connell said that Ireland was in a very strong position to win the bid if it moves from New Zealand, and the proposed race hub at Cobh would be “tailor-made” for 60 to 70 superyachts.

“This is not just a weekend of sport, but a two year plus boost, with six or eight sailing teams basing themselves in the host country from 2022, along with designers, engineers, sports scientists, managers and so on,” O’Connell said.

Port of Galway harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan – who first proposed publicly that Ireland should consider holding the America’s Cup - said that Galway had much expertise to offer, having hosted two Volvo ocean races.

“These new foiling boats we have seen in America’s Cup races don’t have keels, so don’t require depth of water – and Galway Bay is a natural amphitheatre for spectators,” Sheridan said.

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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