In 2020 Lough Ree Yacht Club will celebrate its 250th anniversary or it’s Sestercentennial celebration, apparently a recently devised Latin expression for same. Lough Ree Yacht Club is located at Ballyglass, Coosan, Athlone. Organised boating events on Lough Ree have been documented as far back as 1731, these events were initially organised from the local Garrison in Athlone and were thought to have been cruising but in a military or more accurately, Naval manner. It was not until 1770 that the first formal regatta occurred, initially under the auspice of Athlone Yacht Club and in 1895, the Club was renamed Lough Ree Yacht Club.
Organised racing soon became a regular occurrence on Lough Ree, it was initially an ascendancy activity and racing took place in Half Raters. Whilst these were beautiful craft, they were expensive and were not one design. The need for a competitive and less expensive dinghy resulted in the Shannon-One-Design designed by Morgan Giles and introduced to the Club in 1922, the Club has never looked back.
As part of the celebratory year, the club has a busy schedule planned, in particular, the Annual Regatta which is a weeklong event is to be embellished and will include a Civic Reception and Gala Dinner in the Town of Athlone. Sometimes, particularly for rural Clubs, the populated areas need a reminder that sailing is taking place close by, even though the Club has been in existence for such a long time!
The Club, which has a reputation for its warm welcome and hospitality, has also planned two flagship events which it hopes will attract external sailors to help the Club celebrate the event; after the success of the junior double-handed event, Double Ree in 2018, the Club proposes running this again in 2020. The previous event attracted almost 60 boats and 115 junior sailors to the sunny shores of Lough Ree for a fun-filled weekend which also included competitive racing! The Electric Picnic of sailing events in Ireland. The final date in July 2020 for this event is still to be confirmed, so more to follow.
Given that the mainstay of the Club is the Shannon-One-Design, the second external event is to feature the SOD. Clinkerfest will take place over 3 days during the Whit bank holiday weekend 2020 (30th May – 1st June). The event is what it purports to be, a celebration of racing clinker built boats. It is hoped to attract over 100 boats to Lough Ree for competitive racing and plenty of fun. To-date there is a commitment from SODs, Water Wags, Mermaids, IDRA14’s and International 12’s, there is also growing interest from several other fleets who have yet to commit.
LRYC Commodore, Garrett Leech said, “Some of the largest one-design dingy racing fleets in the Country are wooden built clinker boats, there is sometimes a view that these are classic boats and not really competitive racing fleets, this could not be further from the truth!”
The main premise behind the event is to showcase the vibrancy of these various fleets, to suppress the classic boat label and to demonstrate to the sailing community that these are current and competitively active fleets. Where possible, any Regional events that the fleets might have will be worked into the Regatta. Again, more to follow.