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Lack of Space at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Stalls Irish SailGP Tour Bid

30th September 2021
SailGP teams compete in identical F50 wingsailed catamarans that can reach speeds of up to 98km/h and each six-race Grand Prix event runs across two days.
SailGP for Dun Laoghaire? Teams compete in identical F50 wingsailed catamarans that can reach speeds of up to 98km/h and each six-race Grand Prix event runs across two days Credit: SailGP

Talks to bring a round of the 'SailGP' sailing Grand Prix to Dublin Bay in 2022 have encountered strong headwinds over a lack of shoreside space at Ireland's biggest sailing centre at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Afloat sources say.

It is the second world-class sailing event to consider an Irish port as a potential venue with Cork Harbour's bid for the 37th America's Cup also up and running.

Although Fáilte Ireland chiefs and officials from Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council are in talks with SailGP, it is understood the east coast Harbour and Ireland's biggest marine leisure centre, cannot facilitate the circuit, due to a lack of shoreside space required by race organisers.

SailGP teams compete in identical F50 wing sailed catamarans that can reach speeds of up to 100km/h and each six-race Grand Prix event runs across two days.

The $1m prize is the biggest award in the sport of sailing.

Currently, eight teams representing Australia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United States contest eight events held in as many countries over an 11-month period. The prospect of an Irish crew has been mooted. 

SailGP is the global sailing grand Prix series created by former America’s Cup yacht race winners Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour - an area to the right of the marina has been ruled out as a base for a potential SailGP tour due to bus parking requirements for visiting cruise liners recommencing in 2022. Dun Laoghaire Harbour - an area to the right of the town marina has been ruled out as a base for a potential SailGP tour due to bus parking requirements for visiting cruise liners recommencing in 2022. 

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, the Fine Gael Dún Laoghaire TD, initiated discussions around a bid in January.  Discussions with key organisers in harbour yacht clubs got the green light.

However, a Dun Laoghaire source told Afloat this week: "it's dead, deader than dead". "There is no room in the harbour shoreside to accommodate SailGP's excessive needs".

The former ferry marshalling was earmarked to provide the required shoreside space for the teams with their fifty-foot craft and equipment but Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council's anticipation of the return of a busy cruise season at the harbour in 2022 has scuppered this.

The marshalling area, located to the east of the town marina, will be required for buses catering for cruise-line passenger excursions.

Up to 70 cruise liners are expected to berth off Dun Laoghaire Harbour in 2022 and works commenced this week on a new coach park facility at the site.

The harbour's vacant Carlisle Pier, empty save for occasional visiting Belgian trawlers, was ruled out as 'not big enough', according to sources.

Promoters say each two-day SailGP event is estimated to be worth about €20m to the local economyPromoters say each two-day SailGP event is estimated to be worth about €20m to the local economy

Andrew Thompson, SailGP's chief commercial and financial officer, told the Irish Examiner newspaper last Saturday "SailGP opened its bid process for season 3 – starting 2022 – in March".

"SailGP received an overwhelming response from across the globe"

"Among the cities that approached SailGP is an expression of interest from a bid team from Dublin, Ireland.

"There is no doubt that Ireland would be a fantastic destination to host our annual, global racing league featuring the sport’s best athletes."

While sections of the tiny Irish sailing community are getting behind bids for the two biggest prizes in world yachting, Cork's €190m America's Cup campaign and the Dublin SailGP both are facing major hurdles as Afloat's WM Nixon points out here in relation to the 37th AC.

Cork Harbour is still in the running to host the 2024 America’s Cup yacht race after the organisers extended the venue selection process.

Cork has also been identified as a possible SailGP venue too.

More from The Examiner here

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About SailGP

SailGP unites world-class athletic talent and cutting-edge technology. Eight teams representing Australia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United States will contest eight events held in as many countries over an 11-month period. Following the season opener in Bermuda, the championship visits renowned sailing locations in Italy, the United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Spain and New Zealand. San Francisco, United States, has the honour of closing proceedings with the Grand Final on 26–27 March 2022. Among those vying for the crown is the Great Britain team led by Rolex Testimonee and four-time Rolex World Sailor of the Year, Sir Ben Ainslie, who says: “The sailing world was crying out for the creation of such a concept. SailGP is a major milestone in the evolution of yachting, but it also represents continuity. The combination of state-of-the-art technology and sporting prowess is widening the appeal of sailing.

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