One of the world’s fastest powerboats will roar around Cork Harbour today ahead of the launch of one of the most spectacular sporting events to be staged in Ireland this year.
The sleek Vector Martini Rosso V40R race boat, which has a maximum speed of 215km and which has recently broken four speed records, will be put through its paces off Cobh from 12pm.
It will cruise upriver to the city marina later where details of the Venture Cup — the ocean’s equivalent of Formula 1 racing — will be announced in the Port of Cork offices.
Up to 1m people are expected to watch the event — the longest, toughest, and most prestigious powerboat race in the world — which will set off from Cork Harbour this summer on an epic 1,600km journey along the Wild Atlantic Way.
The start flag drops in Cork Harbour on June 11 with in-harbour racing, before the boats take in Dingle, Galway, Killybegs, and Belfast before finishing in Dublin on June 19.
A total of 25 international teams will compete in the week-long race, with celebrity team members including male supermodel David Gandy and survival expert Bear Grylls.
One of the youngest competitors in the fleet will be Adam Brennan, son of Kerry hotelier John Brennan, one of the stars of RTÉ’s At Your Service, who has been competing on the waters off Kerry since he was a child.
The race will be broadcast to more than 70 channels globally and the event will be supported by major festivals in Cork, Galway, and Dublin.
“Make no mistake — this is going to push teams and their boats to the absolute limit,” said Peter Dredge, technical director and lead driver of the Vector Martini team, widely tipped as one of the race favourites.
“This is no place for the faint-hearted, and only the bravest and best prepared will succeed. Even in the middle of summer we’ll be encountering 15m swells as we race along some of the most dramatic and demanding coastlines in Europe.”
The teams will compete for two top honours, with the winning team claiming the Venture Cup, which can trace its history back to 1908 and the Vanderbilt family.
The winning nation will be presented with the British International Harmsworth Trophy, the world’s first powerboating trophy which dates back to 1903.
The powerboat trophy is recognised as the equivalent of yachting’s Americas Cup. Coincidentally, the first Harmsworth competition was run from Cobh.
The prestigious race was formally awarded to Ireland at an official event in London by November by the sport’s global governing body — Union Internationale Motonautique — which is recognised by the International Olympic Committee.
The event is expected to bring a major boost to Ireland’s tourism industry, showcasing the stunning coastline along the Wild Atlantic Way, and is also expected to boost the country’s blue economy, with organisers expecting to link in with research partners, including those at IMERC in Ringaskiddy.