Gallery: The Volvo Ocean Race. Click here

  • 1.8 billion global TV audience
  • 2 week free festival
  • 750 volunteers
  • 500 spectator boats
  • 10,000 school children
  • 5km of bunting flags
  • 1000 performers
  • 200 international media

The seventh leg of the Volvo Ocean Race got off to a rocky start Saturday when a tanker almost collided with the racers as they left Boston Harbor for Galway Bay

Luckily, the U.S. Coast Guard steered the hulking 700-foot tanker out of the fleet's way as they prepared to race 2,550 miles across the Atlantic for their arrival in Galway Bay on May 23.

This is the first time that the world’s premiere ocean race has stopped in Ireland and Galway Bay will be ablaze with bonfires on May 23 as it awaits the racers.

The race, which started in Alicante, Spain, will have covered more than 39,000 nautical miles in nine months including Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, China, South America, North America and then Galway before its finish in the Baltic.

Over 200,000 visitors from Ireland and overseas are expected to be in Galway for the event which is expected to generate an estimated €43m for the region.

It is the biggest sporting event in Ireland since the Ryder Cup and Failte Ireland, on behalf of the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, is the principal sponsor.

In the run-up to the Boston to Galway leg, Tourism Ireland transformed Boston Pier into a showcase of Irish music, song, dance and storytelling, while Good Food Ireland presented the best of Irish food to thousands of visitors with demonstrations and tastings throughout the week.

Indeed, in Boston, the Green Dragon emerged from their boat to a welcome taste of home as Food Ireland had prepared a special Irish "buttie" for the 11 crew.

The Green Dragon buttie was made of organic Irish fillet beef, fresh potatoe wedges topped with sea salt, west cork country relish and freshly baked bread- all self contained in a ready-to eat meal.

The Galway stopover has been a huge marketing platform for Tourism Ireland.  The nine-month Volvo Ocean Race attracts huge worldwide publicity and takes in two of Ireland’s key source markets, the U.S. and continental Europe.  For the first time the race has visited Asia, which represents significant business potential for Irish tourism. 

Ian Walker, the skipper of Ireland’s Green Dragon, is aiming for a solid performance into Galway. While the initial 48-hours are unfavorable for the Green Dragon’s underweight keel, downwind ‘running’ conditions next week should see his team on a par with most of the fleet.

Green Dragon left Boston with some needed cash in its sails after they received a sponsorship boost that will secure the team until the end of the race. That sponsorship is understood to be worth a significant six-figure sum in a deal with BWIN and United Games who will tap into the 210,000-strong virtual gaming community that already tracks the real race.