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Ireland's 2009 Volvo Ocean Race Skipper, the two-time Olympic medallist, Ian Walker of Great Britain, has signed up as skipper for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race title pursuit, as the emirate's newest sporting outfit readies for the 'Everest of Sailing'.

Appointed by the team's backer, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), Walker, who steered Green Dragon from Galway two years ago, will lead an 11-strong crew hoping to stake its claim in one of the world's toughest, most extreme sporting challenges.

There is still no further news about how Ireland's entry for the race is shaping up or if work to bring the Green Dragon yacht up to speed has started.

ADTA, which was behind the emirate's successful bid to become a Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 host city, believes Walker's appointment is a major coup for Abu Dhabi's inaugural title tilt.

"Ian is the lynchpin in the dream team we are determined to secure," explained Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General, ADTA. "His high profile sends a signal of the seriousness of our ambitions in a sport which will help us build international awareness of our long maritime pedigree and exceptional coastline and surrounding waters."

As design consultant on ADTA's planned, specially designed Volvo Open 70, Walker will be out to capitalise on years of experience to guide the outfit through nine-months of intense, head-to-head sailing over 39,000 nautical miles comprising four of the world's most treacherous oceans.

"The Volvo Ocean Race is mentally and physically exhausting. The whole project is quite daunting, but it is easier to comprehend having done the race before. I have huge respect for the yachts and the race and we will be as prepared as we possibly can be," said Walker, one of the world's leading helmsmen and tacticians.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to build a winning team both on and off the water. It is a huge challenge, yet we are confident we will compete for top honours. We have a unique opportunity to do something special with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

"The emirate's participation is a huge step forward for sailing. Abu Dhabi is a great venue and the conditions are perfect for a sailing destination. This will certainly encourage other sailing events and championships to come to this part of the world and is already inspiring the local population to get fully behind sailing. The entire emirate, including nationals, is eager to embrace the race and get behind its team. This is going to be a fantastic journey."

ADTA and Walker, who lives in Southampton, UK, are also currently in the final stages of appointing the team's other crew members, and are committed to including a UAE national in the sporting team and another two on the shore team.

"I think it is crucial to have the right mix of youth and experience and I also like the idea of an internationally-represented crew. Obviously, you need the right mix of skills such as helming, trimming, bowmen, sailmaking, rigging and engineering, yet it is just as important to select people who will work well as a team. That is what we are aiming for with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing," said the 40-year-old graduate of Cambridge University – one of the UK's 'Ivy League' institutions.

Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race commented, "We are very pleased to have Ian Walker back in our race and believe he will be an excellent skipper and leader for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. The host city is an excellent venue for sailing and hopefully this project will encourage and ignite passion for sailing within the region."

Walker, a father of two, was the skipper and sailing manager of the 2002 British America's Cup Team. He has accrued a wealth of sailing experience in a two-decade long career, which includes coaching the 2004 British Olympic Gold medal winning women's keelboat sailing team, winning the TP52 Global Championship, and leading the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race outfit, Green Dragon.

Plans are being progressed with Abu Dhabi stakeholders for the UAE capital's New Year 2012 hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race, when it sails into the sport's record books as the first Middle East stopover in the event's 37-year history.

Published in Ocean Race

John Killeen, one of the Volvo Ocean Race stopover organisers and now a freeman of Galway, has opened a new low-rent watersports centre near the new slip commissioned specifically for the stopover, the Irish Times repots this morning.

The centre will open later this year and house facilities for groups of sailors, divers and kayakers.

Published in Galway Stop
Tagged under

Today (Saturday 12 June) Mayor of Galway, Cllr Declan McDonnell announced plans for a new watersports club in Galway which will provide facilities for all the watersports organisations in the city and region.
The new club will be based in the new Galway Harbour Enterprise Park adjacent to the new harbour slipway that was built specifically for the Volvo Ocean Race in 2009. The 25,000 sq ft premises is being provided by Cold Chon (Galway) Ltd for a nominal rent and the land is being provided free by Galway Harbour Company. 
‘Galway City Council is delighted to support this new facility which will provide much needed facilities for a range of watersports in the city. It will ensure that Galway maintains its position as a centre for maritime excellence’ stated Mayor of Galway, Cllr Declan McDonnell
Clubs and organisations can use these new facilities at a nominal rent. Some of the clubs that have already committed to this new facility include the Galway Sea Scouts, Galway Sea Sports Association, Galway Sub Aqua Club, Bádoiri an Cladaigh, OYTI, Galway Coastal Rowing, and Kayak Mor.
‘The Harbour Company is pleased to assist in pulling together the various water sport bodies under one roof and in the heart of the harbour.  The new facility and the recently constructed slipway will be the focal point for Galway’s marine leisure, getting Galwegians afloat and established in the city, commented Harbour Master’, Captain Brian Sheridan.
The building will also host the Let’s Do It Global (LDIG) office. LDIG ran the very successful Green Dragon campaign and the Galway Volvo Ocean Race Festival and more recently organised the Galway Powerboat Festival. The team is now working towards hosting a spectacular finish to the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 in July 2012.
At today’s launch John Killeen, MD, Cold Chon stated ‘Cold Chon is delighted to support another sporting facility in Galway. Over the years Cold Chon has provided support to facilities such as Pearse Stadium and Galwegians Rugby Club and the sponsorship is in line with our strategy of supporting sport in the region.’
The centre will provide operational facilities such as offices, changing rooms and storage facilities. There will be no social amenities or bars at the club however it is anticipated that the establishment of the club will provide impetus for attracting further watersport events to Galway.
Harry Hermon CEO, Irish Sailing Association commenting on the announcement stated: ‘The opening of the Galway Ocean Watersports Club will help create a centre of maritime excellence in Galway and thereby attract national and international events to Galway. It is in keeping with the national strategy for developing a municipal centre for a variety of sporting and recreational interests’.
 It is planned to open the Galway Ocean Watersports Club late 2010.

Published in Galway Harbour
Tagged under

Heights of Abraham completed a clean sweep at the Galway Grand Prix of the Sea on Monday after another imperious display of offshore powerboat racing secured back-to-back titles for the Matlock-based team.
A combination of aggressive handling and punishing throttle power from Rupert Pugh as well as accurate positioning from Dan Whapples earned the 300 Class frontrunners a sixth successive race win of the season.
Leading from the front for the entire weekend, Messrs Pugh and Whapples displayed outstanding poise around the corners, which subsequently gave their rivals little chance of stealing the gold.
Heights of Abraham command a 25-point lead in the series after two rounds and Pugh is delighted with the team’s rich vein of form. He said: “It’s been an unbelievable start to the season. To win six-out-of-six races is fantastic and an excellent reward for a great team effort.”
Maurice Lacroix claimed the runners-up spot ahead of Evans Heritage Developments by virtue of its superior race-by-race results percentage. Michael and Stephen Baggs from Maurice Lacroix continue to be the best of the rest in the 300 Class but signs during the Galway event suggest that Rough Cut Racing and Shark are not too far behind this weekend’s top three whilst the Fuel Girls improve after every new lap.
Racing in front of crowds in excess of 90,000 as part of the eight-day Galway Powerboat Festival, Pugh was quick to pay tribute to the fantastic support for the nautical extravaganza. He said: “It’s been a fantastic advert for powerboating. All of the pilots have been really impressed by the huge spectator interest and we hope to be back at this wonderful centre of maritime excellence again next year.”
The 150 Class unfolded in a similar fashion with Premier Cru powering its way to consecutive Grand Prix of the Sea triumphs. Having brutally beaten its rivals into submission over the weekend, pilots John Wilson and Neil Scarborough suffered their first hiccup of the season when Eclipse pair Rose Lores and Sara Cureton upset the formbook by stealing first place in Monday’s penultimate race.
Undoubtedly Monday’s solitary loss was the most exciting race of the three-day bank holiday feast of marine motorsport and the enthralling sight of Premier Cru hunting down the ladies from their slipstream for the entire duration of race three will give the other contenders plenty to mull over until July’s next event in Pwllheli, Wales.
Neil Scarborough of Premier Cru hailed Lores’ drive as probably the ‘best of her life’ and lavished praise on Cureton’s coolness under pressure. He said: “The ladies were outstanding. It was a really frustrating race but they didn’t make one mistake.
“We’ve had a fantastic Grand Prix. It’s testament to the team’s ambition that we were fairly disappointed to finish second in race three but that’s the standard we are setting for ourselves.”
The pace of Eclipse the performance of debutants Flying Sparks and Octane were unquestionable highlights of the successful maritime festival that saw Powerboat P1 establish an tremendous footing in Ireland at the conclusion of its first-ever visit to the Emerald Isle.   

Monday 150 Class Results:
1.    Eclipse
2. Premier Cru
3.    Team Fox
4.    Flying Sparks
5. Octane
6. GSS Mermaid
Monday 300 Class Race Results
1.   Heights of Abraham
2.    Maurice Lacroix
3. Evans Heritage Developments
4.  Rough Cut Racing
5.    Fuel Girls
Team Shark (DNS)

Galway Grand Prix of the Sea Overall Results
150 Class
1.    Premier Cru
2.    Eclipse
3.  Team Fox
4.    Flying Sparks
5.  GSS Mermaid
6.  Octane

300 Class
1.       Heights of Abraham
2.      Maurice Lacroix
3.  Evans Heritage Developments
4.  Rough Cut Racing
5.      Fuel Girls
6.  Team Shark 

Here is the tracker link to follow the Around Ireland Powerboat Challenge. Click here. The boats are now in Killybegs after the first leg of the five day voyage from Galway.

The green flag went up at 0900 on a grey bank holiday Monday for 5 of the 6 entries in the Around Ireland Powerboat Race.

The local team Kilcullen Galway Flyer driven by Tom Montgomery Swan and navigated by Enda O’Coineen powered off the start line at around 80 knots whilst the other boats revved up to around 50 knots.

Unfortunately Team Dreamer driven by Kerryman Philip Fitzgibbon did not make it to the start of the Race in Galway due to technical difficulties but hope to be on the start line in Killybegs tomorrow morning (Tuesday 08 June 2010).Commenting at the start of the race,

Denis Dillon, Powerboat Development Officer, Irish Sailing Association stated that ‘There is a huge history of powerboating in Ireland in fact the first ever International powerboat Championship for the Harmsworth Trophy was held in Cork in 1903.

Around Ireland Powerboat Race 2010 is in its inaugural year and organisers are hoping that it will become a permanent fixture on the international circuit and will grow to a major sporting event.’The race will circumnavigate the entire coast of Ireland and will be the toughest endurance powerboat race on the International circuit. The 5 days of racing will be a true test of man and machine and there will be 5 stages with events at each of the stopovers:

Galway to Killybegs (07 June)Killybegs to Belfast (08 June) Belfast to Waterford (09-10 June)Waterford to Fenit (11 June) Fenit Sea Breeze Festival will run Friday 11- Sunday 13 JuneFenit to Galway (12 June) The fleet is expected back in Galway on Saturday 12 June meanwhile the festival which saw crowds of over 90,000 flock to Galway over the weekend will continue daily from 1000 to 1030 daily. 

For the finale on 12 June, prepare to be amazed and in awe at the P750 Cross Border Powerboat Championship and make sure you are at the dock to welcome back the winner of the Around Ireland Powerboat Challenge on Saturday 12 June. (1400 approximately)


Cinzano Bianco

Driver: Markus Hendicks Crew: Tim Grimshaw and Eric Smilie 

Engines: 850 X 2   ·        

Kilcullen Galway Flyer 

Driver: Tom Montgomery-Swan Navigator: Enda OCoineen
Hull Fabio Buzzi Rib
CC 6000
Length 11.00
Engines Mercury 300x Pro Max x2   ·        

Seawolf – Team Pulsar Racing

 Driver: Justin McInerneyCo Pilot: Andrew Varley
Hull Humber Quinquari Rib
Length 10.00
Engines Twin Suzuki SDF300 Engines  ·        


Driver: Philip Fitzgibbon

Co-Pilot: James ThompsonTwin Suzuki SDF300 

Excalibur Rib ·        

Wolf Team Pulsar Racing

Driver: Derek StanleyCo-Pilot: Paul Lewis 
Hull Humber Quinquari Rib
Length 8.50
Engines Twin Suzuki DF200 Engines ·        

Zoolander Blue Steel Racing

Owner Driver: Oisin Ryan

Co-Driver: John RyanCo-Driver/

Navigator: Gareth Tolan

Length 8.00
Engines Twin Honda 255 with Zodiac



The first Round Ireland Offshore Powerboat Race was scheduled to depart Galway City today at 9am. It is far from the much hoped for fleet of 50 boats but the six competitors will nevertheless jet off on a five day-long adventure around the country, making stops in Killybegs, Bangor, Waterford and Fenit, before returning to Galway's finish line on Saturday 12th June. The forecast for the first leg is for southeast winds of force 4 to 5, becoming cyclonic variable force 2 to 4 this evening. There will be occasional rain with drizzle and mist. Met Eirean say visibility is moderate to poor The organisers have set up a tracker to keep up to date with the position of the boats during the race but by 10am it showed the boats were still in Galway harbour. The leaderboard showed the following: Cinzano Bianco, Kilcullen Galway Flyer, Seawolf - Team Pulsar Racing, Dreamer, Zoolander - Blue Steel Racing, Wolf - Team Pulsar Racing. Click here.



Heights of Abraham has one hand on the overall Galway Grand Prix of the Sea trophy after another ruthless performance on Sunday tightened the Matlock team’s grip on the Powerboat P1 SuperStock Championship 300 Class prize in Ireland.
The imperious pair of Rupert Pugh and Dan Whapples dished out another lesson in offshore powerboat racing after the dynamic duo romped home by over ten seconds in Salthill.
Leading from the front, Messrs Pugh and Whapples gave their rivals little chance of stealing the gold with some outstanding cornering in testing conditions.
Now looking very difficult to beat after its fifth successive win of the season, HeightsofAbraham pilot Pugh is confident of completing another clean sweep in Galway this weekend. He said: “It’s been an unbelievable couple of races. Our reliability has been a key ingredient of our success so far this season and if we can hold it together in some tricky conditions forecast for Monday then I’m sure we’ll finish the job off.”
Galway was painted in glorious golden sunshine in the afternoon and although the slight choppiness on the water coming off the stunning Salthill shoreline made it far from a comfortable day’s work, Pugh was quick to pay tribute to the fantastic support, which saw numbers reach a monumental 90,000 between the Galway Harbour and Salthill race villages over the weekend. He said: “It’s been a fantastic weekend for the sport. All of the pilots have noticed the huge interest from the spectators and we are all looking forward to completing a great Grand Prix of the Sea and hopefully coming back again next year.”
Once again continuing yesterday’s formbook, Premier Cru stole the headlines in the 150 Class. Powering home by a considerable margin, John Wilson and Neil Scarborough found an extra-gear to keep up their unbeaten record in the 21 ft discipline this year.
Taking the checkered flag ahead of Eclipse and Team Fox, Premier Cru pilot John Wilson pinpointed the “immense” navigation of Neil Scarborough as the chief reason for Sunday’s race victory. He said: “Neil is a fantastic navigator. He allows me to focus purely on what’s in front of me. We have a massive amount of respect for each other and our experience in the boat together is reaping great rewards this year.
“We were in the mid-52’s (mph) for the entire 10-laps and Flying Sparks were hitting 53 mph so the competition is starting to hot up. 
“In smooth conditions on Saturday the lighter power-to-weight ratio suited the girls in Eclipse but today the rougher conditions were perfect for us.

HeightsofAbraham were the toast of Galway on Saturday evening after the 300 Class speedsters conquered Salthill to score a fourth successive SuperStock Championship win of the season.

Matlock’s finest, Rupert Pugh, and Warsash wizard, Dan Whapples, bolstered their chances of claiming back-to-back Grand Prix of the Sea trophies with yet another flawless performance on the water.


The team’s unrivalled speed and poise around the turns now makes them favourites to secure a record-breaking weekend. After standing head and shoulders above runners-up Evans Heritage Developments and Rough Cut Racing on the podium, navigator Whapples was confident of even more glory on Sunday. He said:  “We’re really pleased with the win today. Galway is an outstanding venue and it was fantastic to race in front of large crowds and interact with the spectators afterwards.

“Today’s victory was down to a fantastic combination of having a great boat setup and getting a quick understanding of the conditions. We’ve prepared really well in training and it’s now showing.”

Having had more time getting used to this season’s new Mercury 300 XS Engines, Whapples believes the competition will get feistier after every race. “Evans Heritage Developments were a lot stronger with Rhys Evans at the wheel today. There is some great potential in the whole fleet and just observing how close Rough Cut Racing and Team Shark were battling it out towards the end shows that once everyone finds their rhythm, it’s going to be almighty close.”

A full schedule of events is below:

Saturday 05 June Day 1 P1 Superstock Grand Prix of Galway

The P1 Superstock Championship will see some of the UK's biggest thrill seekers tackling the challenging elements of the Atlantic Ocean. Consisting of two race classes, 150 and 300, 14 P1 powerboats will entertain locals, tourists and motor sport fans alike, as they enter into high-stakes speed racing on Galway Bay. Each boat has exactly the same manufactured hull and identical engines, which means that the onus is placed firmly on the skills and nerve of the driver and navigator. Live commentary in Salthill.

1030: Practice Race

1330 and 1415: Race Start 150 Class

1430 and 1515: Race Start 300 Class

1700: Podium prizegiving in the Race Village

Sunday 06 June Day 2 P1 Superstock Grand Prix of Galway

Live commentary in Salthill

1030: Practice Race

1330 and 1415: Race Start 150 Class

1430 and 1515: Race Start 300 Class

1700: Podium prizegiving in the Race Village

Monday 07 June Start of the Around Ireland Powerboat Race and Day 3 P1 Superstock Grand Prix of Galway

The Around Ireland Offshore Powerboat Race requires offshore navigation capabilities combined with rock solid reliability to ensure success. The mix of physical rigour with technical performance is what attracts most people to the event. The ability to endure in an extreme environment is what offshore racing is all about.

0900 Start of the Around Ireland Powerboat Race.

1130 and 1215: Race Start 150 Class (P1 Superstock)

1230 and 1315: Race Start 300 Class (P1 Superstock)

1430 Final podium prizegiving for the P1 Superstock Grand Prix of Galway in the Race Village

Around Ireland Powerboat Race overnights in Killybegs (local festival)

Tuesday 08 June

Galway Powerboat Festival continues in the Race Village 1000 – 1030

Stage 2 of Around Ireland Powerboat Race Killybegs to Belfast. Overnight in Belfast

Wednesday 09 June

Galway Powerboat Festival continues in the Race Village 1000 – 1030

Stage 3 of Around Ireland Powerboat Race Belfast to Waterford. Overnight in Waterford

Thursday 10 June

Galway Powerboat Festival continues in the Race Village 1000 – 1030

Around Ireland Powerboat Race: Layday Waterford. Overnight Waterford

Friday 11 June

Galway Powerboat Festival continues in the Race Village 1000 – 1030

Stage 4 of the Around Ireland Powerboat Race Waterford to Fenit (Overnight Fenit at the Fenit Sea Breeze Festival)

Saturday 12 June P750 Cross border Championships and finish of the Around Ireland Powerboat Race

Galway Powerboat Festival continues in the Race Village 1000 – 1030

1000 Round 1 of the P750 Powerboat Championship

1400 Finish of the Around Ireland Powerboat Race and prizegiving in the Race Village

Jet Ski activity on the bay all day


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