Cork Harbour is a possible venue for the America's Cup. Photo: Michael McSweeney/Provision

America’s Cup would be ‘icing on the cake’

Cork is now in the final list of possible locations for the 37th America’s Cup sailing championship, the world’s oldest sporting trophy. Considered the third biggest sporting event on earth, the contest takes place every four years, bringing hundreds of millions in revenue to its hosting locality.

The cup has been held in New Zealand on the past three occasions where the most recent tournament attracted just under one billion viewers from around the globe.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, Cobh Cllr Anthony Barry said the competition would be huge for Cork and that the timing would be just right for this kind of event.

“I think Cork needs this. It would be like the Ryder Cup coming to Cork. I wouldn't be a big sailing fan, but I know what the America's Cup is. It's like, you mightn't follow tennis, but you know what Wimbledon is. It transcends passing interest,” he said.

Cllr Barry said an event like this could be the “icing on the cake” for Cork Harbour and could help to reinvent the city.

“It's only when you go out in the harbour that you realise its spectacular beauty and nature. For years and years, we turned our back on the harbour and treated it like a dumping pot. It's looking well at the moment in the way we have brought it back to life,” he said.

The competition itself can last for up to four months with competitors setting up camp in the area at least six months prior to commencement.

Last month, the technical crew for the America’s Cup arrived in Cork to survey the proposed race site and to meet with Minister for Foreign Affairs Coveney.

It is understood the other countries in the running to host are Dubai, Singapore and Spain.

A decision is expected in late September or early November and planning and preparation will need to commence immediately in order to be ready by 2024. According to Seamus Heaney, Head of Operations at Pure Cork, the visiting technical crew’s time in Cork was short but very effective.

“They got a taste of the city late Friday evening. On Saturday they viewed the proposed site for the race and proposed village,” he told the Cork Independent.

He added: “Their familiarisation of Cork was short but got to meet the right people and see everything they needed to see over the course of the weekend. We could not have asked for a better weekend to showcase Cork and the harbour as the weather was spectacular from the moment they arrived to the time they left.”

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin has been working with the Taoiseach in recent months to develop plans to bring the competition to Ireland.

The minister said: “Cork city and the natural harbour would provide an ideal backdrop to showcase Ireland’s wonderful scenery and its sporting heritage. The America’s Cup event potentially represents a fantastic sporting opportunity for Ireland and could generate a much needed boost to Ireland’s tourist industry post the pandemic.

“The team in the Department are examining the economic potential of the event and the investment required and will advance this opportunity in the coming weeks and months.”