Belfast Telegraph

The Dolce & Gabbana man is coming to Ireland for the world's toughest powerboat race, 2016 Venture Cup

Bruno Senna, nephew of the late Formula One champion Ayrton, will also race in the Vector Martini team

By Claire Cromie

The toughest powerboat race in the world, the Venture Cup, is coming to Northern Ireland and the Republic - and its bringing David Gandy with it

One of the world's most recognisable male models, Gandy - aka the Dolce & Gabbana man - will be ramping up speeds in boats around Ireland’s coastline next summer.

High-octane racing will take place offshore over seven days, as 25 teams do battle on the waves.

They will travel clockwise around the island from Cork on June 12 to Dingle, Galway, Killybegs, Belfast and finishing in Dublin a week later.

The boats will speed past Northern Ireland's Giant's Causeway and the Titanic Quarter, with public festivals being planned for each harbour along the way.

Ireland was formally awarded the 2016 Venture Cup on Friday, a race that can be traced back to 1908 and the American Vanderbilt family, by powerboating’s global governing body – the Union International Motonautique.

The teams include the much-fancied Vector Martini outfit, lead by world champion Peter Dredge, with David Gandy and Bruno Senna – the nephew of the late three-time Formula One world champion Ayrton.

18-year-old Adam Brennan, son of Irish hotelier and television personality Francis Brennan, will also compete.

Dredge, who is technical director, predicts a close battle: "The Venture Cup is an exciting thing; it’s over 100 years old. It’s a really beautiful, prestigious trophy and we’re really looking forward to competing and trying to get our hands on it."

The Englishman explained: "Very often it’s perceived that whoever has got the biggest engine gets the fastest time and wins. This won’t be like that.

"It’s a marathon of several days so it’s going to be people preparing themselves to run day after day, which is a different mentality to just having a race over one day.

"We’re very lucky that we’ve got interest from a number of very high profile people. David Gandy is going through our training process at the moment and he’s really up for it.

"I’m really excited about the idea of racing around Ireland, I really can’t wait."

The winning crew will claim the Venture Cup, while the winning nation will also be presented with the British International Harmsworth Trophy – the equivalent of sailing’s America’s Cup.

Event director Aidan Foley said: "These guys are going on an adventure, an odyssey, so there couldn’t be a better name and competition than the Venture Cup.

“Imagine the Monaco Grand Prix where you’ve got Sebastian Vettel on pole position and then a guy next to him in something that’s partly made out of wood and that was conceived in a pub and built in a shed. That doesn’t happen.

“But, in this race, some will be multi-million pound entries while others will be five guys who have built a boat. And there’s no reason why the guys who are doing it out of a garage can’t do as well as the big guys, because the ocean is a great leveler.”

You'll be able to track the progress of the teams through a special app.

Commercial director Stuart Walker expects the harbour festivals to draw big crowds: “Taking advice from Dublin and Cork they are talking about a million people plus turning out for this event.

“Bearing in mind where we are travelling in between the start and finish, the wealth that it is going to bring in terms of tourism and income to Ireland is quite enormous.

“The British marine sector turns over almost £3 billion annually in the UK alone and we see the Venture Cup has being able to add to that.

“Ireland is a wonderful place to sail around. Nobody knows what the waves are going to throw up, it’s a little bit like a mini Tour de France and what a wonderful place to hold a race.

“There’s no point in going to Ireland unless you have a real party and they will certainly deliver that."

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