Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Lecture: “Back to the Rock-Fastnet '79” Launches Series at the Poolbeg Y&BC, Ringsend, Dublin

12th October 2019
Fastnet '79 Yacht Race Disaster: A Royal Navy helicopter rescues the crew of the yacht “Camargue” during the Atlantic storm in August 1979 Fastnet '79 Yacht Race Disaster: A Royal Navy helicopter rescues the crew of the yacht “Camargue” during the Atlantic storm in August 1979 Photo: Steve Pratt/Keystone/Hulton Archives/Getty Images.

Once again the Friends of Glenua launch their annual winter season of lectures with the 2019/20 programme held in Dublin at the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club, Ringsend. 

“Back to the Rock- Fastnet '79” is the title of the opening lecture in aid of the RNLI. This it take place on Thursday 17th October (at 8pm) at the venue located on Pigeon House Rd, Dublin 4. There will be an entry contribution of €5 in aid of the RNLI.

The speaker is John O’Donnell who, as a teenager on the yacht ‘Sundowner’, survived the massive Atlantic storm which turned the 1979 Fastnet Yacht Race into the greatest yacht-racing disaster ever witnessed.

In spite of the biggest peacetime rescue effort at sea, 21 people died, and boats were dismasted, abandoned or sunk as the race became a fight to stay alive.

Forty years later O'Donnell remembers the storm. In his illustrated presentation, John will tell the story of ‘Fastnet 79’ from the different perspectives of those at sea, as well as those on land. As he says: “I was lucky to survive the Fastnet Yacht Race in 1979 and I’ve been lucky again in 2019 in finding so many people who would share their stories with me”.

“Back To The Rock” is a gripping and evocative adventure story of hurricane winds and waves the size of houses. It is also a story of fear and courage.

John O’Donnell is a writer and lawyer. His work has been published and broadcast widely. A collection of short stories “Almost The Same Blue” is forthcoming from Doire Press in 2020.

“Back to the Rock” is also the title of his RTE radio documentary on Fastnet '79. Co-produced with Tim Dennehy, it is now available via this podcast link. 

Published in Dublin Bay
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

Email The Author

Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

Featured Webcams

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2020

tokyo sidebuttoncork300 sidebuttoncorkweek2020 sidebuttonroundire sidebuttonWave Regatta button full size

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating