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A New Approach To Revive WIORA's West Of Ireland Sailing Championships

19th June 2017
A truly unique venue. The Aran Islands are the location for the staging of the four-day West of Ireland Offshore Racing Championship in July A truly unique venue. The Aran Islands are the location for the staging of the four-day West of Ireland Offshore Racing Championship in July

Cormac MacDonnacha describes himself as “one of the busiest men” in Galway this week as he strives to bring traditional boats and the modern GRP racing variety together in a major sailing event at a fledging club, writes Tom MacSweeney.

That’s his aim as he leads the organising committee of WIORA for the West Coast Championships which will be held for the first time in the Aran Islands, by decision of the twelve clubs whose racing fleets from Kerry to Donegal comprise the Association.

They voted in favour of Aran two years ago in support of Club Seoltóireacht Árainn, the only Gaeltacht sailing club in Ireland, recognised as a Category 1 Sailing Club by the ISA in April. WIORA will start on Wednesday, July 5 and conclude on Saturday, July 8, with a very serious bit of sailing planned on the final day.

Cumann Huicéirí na Gaillimhe has joined forces with WIORA to include the Galway Hookers with ‘modern yachts’ – planned to race side-by-side, on Saturday, July 8.

That should be interesting and there is a belief around Galway and the West Coast that bragging rights are up for grabs!

The hope around Galway is that this year’s WIORA will revive the event following some years of a downturn after the economic crash. It would be appropriate that this should mark the 40th anniversary of an overnight race that was run to Kilronan by Galway Bay Sailing Club back in 1977 when its Commodore was FF minister Bobby Molloy. The late ex-minister remains popular in Aran for his work to develop the islands. To commemorate the event, the WIORA Committee is dedicating a race to his memory. His widow, Phyllis will present the prize.

A 100-metre marina of floating pontoons is being installed for the event. Draft plans have been presented to Galway County Council for a permanent marina. BIM has announced 50% funding to install 16 moorings in Kilronan for the event.

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