A sailing route from the southcoast of Ireland along the west and north coasts, western Scotland, the Faroe Islands and western Norway, is being promoted to develop new business opportjunites for enterprises located in these peripheral coaastal communities.

Cool Route Baltiimore

Baltimore, West Cork, is a popular destination for local and visiting yachts

‘Mile for nautical mile, the Cool Route boasts a wealth of archaeological, historical, cultural, musical and culinary treasures and experiences, combined by it amazing scenery, mountainous shorelines, the best pubs and distilleries in the world,’ according project leader, the Hincks Centre of Entrepreneurship Excellence, in Cork Institute of Technology.

The project comprises eight partners located in each of the participating countries, specifically targetting the yacht, superyacht and the small liner market. 

A study involving 500 responses examined the needs and preferences of the yachting community and represents the ‘most comprehensive engagement of its type every taken with a sailing community in Europe’. 

The findings, suported by qualatitive comments and feed into a Route Marketing Strategy, highlight the potential of the Cool Route, ‘its attractiveness to sailors, an optimim daily voyage distance and a ranking in terms of stopover facilities.’ The inputs then led the project partners to adopt a minimum role standard of a dry step ashore facility every 25 nautical miles. 

Cool Route Roundstone

Roundstone, Co Galway, looiing south to Co Clare, is a lively fishing village with seafood restaurants and pubs

A second ‘route traffic study’ had two objectives: to identify the main source market location of vessels within a two-day sail of the Cool Route and to estimate the number of vessels and to set market targets.

The study found that rougly 18,000 cruising yachts (sail and motor) and located along the route. The most important external source markets are the western and southern coasts of England; Wales; northern and western France; Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. 

A further 150,000 cruising vessels are located within a two-day voyage of some location along the Cool Route.

The current value of cruising sailing to the Cool Route is an estimated €131m annually and only represents a small percentage of its potential market, the study finds. 

Cool Route Inisbofin

Inisbofin, Co Galway, is an island waiting to be explored while cruising along Ireland’s west coast 

A third study of direct interviews and an online questionaire looked at vessel movement during 2015-2016. Increased activity along the Cool Route was thought to have ‘potential connections with social and political issues in the Mediterranean, together with growing security concerns in some of the world’s most prominent cruising areas’.  

According to the study, this outcome ‘strongly indicates that superyachts were actively in search of new locations to cruise, that these highly self-contained vessels did not require any facilities additional to these already indentified, such as a small landing pontoon or sound pier step and waste recycing/disposal facilities’.

The studies are feeding into an overall  Marketing Plan aimed at increasing traffic sailing the Cool Route; the Marketing Plan is part of a Route Business Plan and Realisation and Commercialisation Stragety.

The Route Business Plan (mid 2017) will comprise a detailed economic analysis of the impacts of the overall sailing and boating sectors to local economies. It will be based on input from local enterprises with the objective to extend the range of services along the route, such as charter operations; new marinas; pontoons or moorings; waste disposal; food outlets and activites. 

“The Cool Route is not about sailing from Cork to Norway but enjoying all of the cruising grounds along the route. The project is firmly focussed on bringing new marine borne business to local enterprises and it does not make a difference if the visiting boat originated its voyage 10 miles or 100 miles from its destination. The important aspect is that a visiting craft bring business to local harbours,” remarked Gavin Deane, Royal Cork Yacht Club.

The Cool Route project is funded by the EU’s Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme. The project workpackage to develop a Route Marketing Strategy was led by the Royal Cork Yacht Club based in Crosshaven, Co Cork.