Already 60 yachts have signed up for Volvo Cork Week, which will be hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club (RCYC) from July 16 to 21. That is well ahead of interest during the past 10 years and organisers expect the total to be close to 125.
RCYC director of racing, Ross Deasy, said there is a significant increase in interest expressed from yacht owners here and abroad.
“We had 100 entrants for the last Volvo Cork Week and we expect a 25% increase on that this year” he said.
“The recession played a huge part in numbers taking part and overseas competitors fell dramatically during that time. It’s very encouraging to see previous competitors who stayed away then now coming back.”
RCYC has confirmed entries from Australia, United Arab Emirates, France and Britain. Mr Deasy said RCYC representatives would hold a roadshow at The Hamble, near Southampton on St Patrick’s weekend in a bid to get more entries. The Hamble hosts the largest concentration of serious yachtsmen in the south of England.
“We’re also going to market the 2020 event as it will be the 300th anniversary of the founding of RCYC, which is the oldest yacht club in the world,” he said.
It was fitting that the press launch for Volvo Cork Week took place at Haulbowline Island yesterday, as it was RCYC’s first home before moving to Crosshaven.
Jack Roy, president of Irish Sailing, said the event could not take place without the generous sponsorship provided by Volvo and the support of another of companies, including the Irish Examiner. He said the beauty of the event is that it combines serious sailing with “fun ashore”.
One of the most competitive races will be the Beaufort Cup, which pits emergency services from around the world against each other. Tánaiste Simon Coveney, an accomplished sailor, said he had contacted a number of ambassadors around the world urging them to send teams to take part in it.
The Defence Forces, Irish RNLI, the Welsh Police force and PSNI have signed up and more entries are expected to be confirmed shortly.
Mr Coveney said he is delighted Volvo Cork Week will be the first regatta to take an active approach in the fight against the build-up of micro-plastics in the oceans.
Kieran O’Connell, chairman of Volvo Cork Week, said the organisers were taking a number of initiatives on this front, including asking all competitors to use reusable drink containers and event suppliers to reduce plastics.