BALTIMORE and Schull harbours will be in line for major investment if the America’s Cup comes to Cork, as hoped, in 2024.
Cork is currently vying with Valentia in Spain to host what is the biggest sailing event in the world, and the third largest sporting event globally after the football World Cup and the Olympics.
It has taken place in New Zealand on the past three occasions, and they now get to decide who the 2024 host will be, with the announcement expected in eight weeks’ time.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, a keen sailor himself, told Cabinet colleagues this week that Ireland had been shortlisted to host the event.
FG Senator Tim Lombard said he had been briefed by the minister, and said it would be a ‘game changer for the entire south coast’ if the event came here.
‘If we are successful all marinas and harbours within 100km of Cork harbour will be set for major upgrades. That will put projects like Baltimore’s breakwater and the upgrade of Schull harbour back on the agenda,’ he said.
He said events would take place in the area between Waterford Harbour and Dingle, with the actual racing concentrating on the area around Cork Harbour to Youghal, and taking in Baltimore.
‘A funding package of hundreds of millions of euro will be secured if we get this as it would be like bringing an Olympics game style event to West Cork which is unheard of in Irish sporting history. The economic benefit of this would be at least €1bn over three years,’ he said.
Charlie Bolger, Commodore of Baltimore Yacht Club said the opportunities the event would present for West Cork were very exciting.
‘One of the world’s most iconic racing marks is the Fastnet Rock, so it would be hard to see people missing the chance to race around that. The trick would be for them to not only race to Baltimore, and head off again, but to also come in, which is where the infrastructure spend comes in,’ he said.
Just a few weeks ago he said they hosted one of the world’s largest super yachts in Baltimore, the 150ft long ‘Christopher.’
‘We showed we could look after it. We have a very good deep water berth between Sherkin and Baltimore inside the harbour,’ he said.
He said the event would also give local youngsters a chance to meet some of the world’s best sailors which would be wonderful exposure for them, and inspire them to follow the likes of local international sailor Revelin Minihane.