The final countdown to the start of one of Europe’s premiere regattas, ACCBank Cork Week has begun. The arrival of three of the world’s most competitive yachts into Cork Harbour signals the real beginning of the highlight of Ireland’s Sailing Calendar. “Rambler” a 90 footer, skippered by George David from the USA, “Moneypenny” – 65 feet and “Numbers” 66 feet long, also from the USA and skippered by James Swartz and Dan Myers respectively will be seen in the harbour this week, gearing up for the event, in advance of their first race on Monday 14th July.

Entry levels for ACC Bank Cork Week, which is supported by Fáilte Ireland, have exceeded expectations. Race Committee Member and former Royal Cork Yacht Club Admiral, Kevin Lane, is delighted at the prospect of exciting competition on the water. “We have bigger and better boats, quality boats in the handicap fleet and increased numbers in Class Zero and Super Zero. We have one exciting new course and we expect competition to be fierce” says Kevin.

Piet Vroon on “Formidable III”, from Holland is a former Fastnet Winner and he is returning to compete, yet again. He first raced in Cork Harbour thirty-five years ago in 1973. Newcomers to Cork this year are “Escaped Aussies” led by their skippers, Daren (Daz) Shipard and James Kennedy. They promise to bring their unique brand of sailing, friendship and charity work to Cork. “We’re not just about sailing. Through our charity, Sailstrong, we have raised money for a variety of charities in the regions where we sail,” says Skipper Daz Shipard.

The On-Shore Entertainment at ACCBank Cork Week is a crucial ingredient and is one of the unique elements of this Celebration of Sailing which ensures that visitors return time after time. The line up includes Marquee names like Paddy Casey, The Walls and Aslan. Day Passes, which allow admission to the “Tented Village” each evening, are available on-line at www.ticketmaster.ie.

Fiona Buckley, GM, Fáilte Ireland South West said “Cork Week plays a pivotal role in delivering upon the development of tourism in the Cork Region. The Regional Development Board of F·ilte Ireland South West recently launched a three-year development strategy for the South West Region. One of the main pillars of this strategy is to increase Cork`s potential as an urban and city breaks destination, and to develop and increase awareness of Cork as a maritime destination.  Cork has a strong international maritime reputation stemming from its maritime and naval history, its spectacular natural harbour and port, institutions such as the Royal Cork Yacht Club and of course sailing. The regional strategy highlights the need to develop events in Cork capable of attracting a greater number of international visitors. Cork week has been doing this quite successfully for a number of years and it is my opinion that we can work to enhance this superb event to bring further visitors to Cork.”

ACCBank Cork Week will be Officially Launched by Damian Foxall, Winner of the Barcelona World Race, at 6pm on Sunday, July 13th. This will be preceded by a Family Fun Day, which is free and open to the public. For full details of ACCBank Cork Week, visit www.accbankcorkweek.ie