When The Ocean Race Came To Galway
The Volvo Ocean Race, which takes place over seven or eight months, stopped over in Galway in 2009.
It’s a gruelling yacht race which travels Eastwards around the World every few years.
The Ocean Race was first held in 1973-74, and has been completed thirteen times to date.
Initially it was held every four years, then moved to every three years, but has gone back to four again.
The next race will take place in 2021-22, that’s almost two years away yet.
It arrived in Galway on 23rd May 2009 and departed on 6th June 2009.
For those two weeks it was such a popular event in the city, and through much of the country.
My first digital camera
In the time before digital cameras, I didn’t have much interest in photography.
I acquired a digital camera though, never thinking that I would become so interested in it.
It was a very basic 10mp compact camera, with a very limited zoom.
It was one for people to record personal and family memories, and not aimed at any serious photography.
I knew absolutely nothing about photography at the time, and didn’t know it was so basic.
That’s the only camera I had in 2009, and the one I had with me when I visited the race.
Recently I was looking through old photographs and came upon the photos I’d taken then.
There’s no guarantee of dry weather in Galway, but it was dry and sunny for most of that time.
I visited the race boats several times, and snapped away with enthusiasm, if nothing else.
The boats taking part in the race were anchored in Galway Docks during the event.
This was a very accessible place where it was easy to get close to, and see into the boats.
There was a carnival atmosphere around the docks area while the event lasted.
The docks had been an ugly place before this but was cleaned up and developed for the occasion.
Since then the Galway Docks area has been unbelievably better looking than it ever had been before that.
If Galway got one thing from the race, it’s a lovely looking docks area, rather than an eyesore.
The highlight of the stop over
Midway through the time the Volvo Ocean Race stayed in Galway came one of the highlights.
It was a race between the competing yachts, off the city shore at Salthill, in Galway Bay.
The day was a fabulous summer day, the kind we always expect, but don’t always get.
Before the race there was an aerial display which was well received also.
There was an annual air show at Salthill, over the bay for many years, but is no more.
That event took place over a month later than this, so this was a separate display.
The Ocean Race in Galway Bay
The small compact camera I had wasn’t good enough to capture much of the race.
As I remember a lack of wind caused the race in the bay to be moved from its intended location.
It was to have taken place very close to shore but it was moved well off shore.
People still enjoyed it but it would have been better had it taken place where it was meant to have.
Nevertheless, there was a great atmosphere, and people enjoyed the spectacle, as they were meant to.
After it the boats returned to the docks to prepare for the next leg of the race.
The oceans are unforgiving, and the boats need repairing between the various legs of the race.
The voyage from one of the stopover ports to the next, is often thousands of miles.
Even good things end
The arrival of the boats in Galway, the race in the bay, and the departure all happened on Saturday’s.
The morning they left Galway was mainly dry but colder that most of time they’d spent here.
The boats left the docks individually and assembled near Mutton Island well out into Galway Bay.
That’s an island in the bay, which is connected to land by a road and walkway.
Many people made their way out along the walkway to get as near to the start as possible.
After what seemed a long time they took off and soon turned South at the mouth of the bay.
The return of the Ocean Race
The whole event had been such a success that Galway applied to host the next race also.
Our bid was successful and we were chosen to host the finish of the race in 2012.
There was a great effort put into preparing for the return of the Volvo Ocean race.
For some reason it didn’t get the reaction that the 2009 race got, and was regarded as a disappointment.
I had been looking forward to it since the return had been announced.
For some reason, and I can’t remember why, I never got near it.
I had much better cameras by then, and would have gotten better photos of the boats in the bay.
There has been two races completed since, and another one to come in 2021-22.
Galway hasn’t been involved, and there’s little enthusiasm at the moment to host it again.
The photographs of the 2009 Ocean Race
The photographs through this article were ones I took while the boats were in Galway.
001 The first photo shows Galway Docks shortly after the Ocean Race arrived
002 A view of Galway Docks during the stay of the Volvo Ocean Race
003 Some of the pageantry at the event
004 Another view of the docks during the race stop over
005 More of the side attractions
006 The race boats anchored in Galway Docks during the two weeks they spent there
007 A view into one of the boats at it’s berth in Galway docks
008 Some more of the colourful creatures that attended the Ocean Race
009 A view of the Air Show over Galway Bay before the race in the bay
010 People making their way to Salthill for the yacht race with the aerial display in the distance
011 The race in the bay in progress. The race should have taken place close to shore but it had to be moved way off shore. Unfortunately the camera I had wasn’t capable of getting a better shot.
012 One of the race boats leaves Galway Docks for the last time on its way to Mutton Island.
013 The race boats begin to race away from Mutton Island
014 The yachts racing towards the mouth of Galway Bay, just minutes before they disappeared.