#inland – Strong winds arrived for the inaugural Waterways Ireland Raid that finishes today and it has produced fantastic photographs including this one above by Nic Compton of Cathy MacAleavey, steering a reefed down Shannon One Design (SOD) dinghy Number 178 across Lough Ree earlier this week. Murphy crewed by her daughter Claudine and Howth YC sailor Amy Wickham sailed from Lanesborough in County Cavan to Lough Ree Yacht Club in just two hours, a journey of some ten miles.
One of the boats taking part in the first Irish Raid was dismasted as the fleet was hit by 25-knot winds crossing Loch Erne on the Shannon River. Former Whitbread sailor and Route du Rhum organizer Sylvie Viant was skippering the Water Wag when the mast collapsed half way down the loch.
"We noticed the mast flexing forward, but the wind was too strong to stop. Then suddenly the whole thing fell forward into the sea," said Ms Viant. "The safety boat came over very quickly, so we weren't in any danger – just disappointed we couldn't carry on sailing!"
Windy conditions for Wags. The boat on the left of the picture lost its mast in one gust. See below. Photo: Nic Compton
The mast was glued back together that evening by a team of volunteers during the stopover at the Lough Ree Yacht Club (LRYC), and Sylvie and her race partner Martine Gahinet-Charrier were racing again the next day.
Come in Number 18, your time is up! A broken spar was quickly repaired. Photo: Nic Compton
Meanwhile, the rest of the crews enjoyed a helter skelter ride in brilliant, but windy, conditions during the fourth day of the seven-day event. Competition was particularily stiff in the Shannon OD class where former Tornado champion Koji Akido vied with Lough Ree Yacht Club commodore Alan Algoe. Despite starting last, the Japanese skipper overtook almost the whole fleet to finish the fourth leg in second place overall, and first in class. First boat home on Lough Ree was the Wayfarer skippered by Monica Shaeffer.
The seven-day event on the Shannon River includes a former Olympian, a transatlantic record breaker, a Whitbread sailor and a former world windsurf champion.
Two local classes, the Shannon One-Design and the Water Wags, joined a mixed fleet of boats in the Open Class to race the 195km course. In a spirit of cross-border cooperation, the first two days of the event took place in Northern Ireland, before the boats crossed the border into the Republic of Ireland and resumed racing down the Shannon River.