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Who Will be King Cong in Race the Length of Lough Corrib this Saturday?

26th June 2019
Attractive start port – Lisloughry Harbour at Cong will see the start of Saturday’s Cong-Galway race on Lough Corrib Attractive start port – Lisloughry Harbour at Cong will see the start of Saturday’s Cong-Galway race on Lough Corrib

Life was simpler back in 1882 when the sailing folk of Galway Bay and the stunningly beautiful Lough Corrib inaugurated the Galway to Cong race the length of the great lake writes W M Nixon. People didn’t have cars, and still less had they efficient road trailers. So if you raced the whole way from Galway up the lake to Cong, you then had to expect to sail back again, and you’d have covered at least 60 miles by the time the day was out, though it’s likely they made at least two days of it.

But now with modern road trailers and dinghies dominant, complex logistics enter the equation. Since its revival in 1972, the race has been just one way – southwards from Cong to Corrib Village in Galway city. In order to ensure a smooth state of affairs after the finish, competitors are offered the option of leaving their boats by road at Lisloughry beforehand, then leaving their cars and trailers at Corrib Village where a bus will be on hand early in the Saturday morning to get them back to their waiting boats in Cong.

lough corrib2The basic shape of Lough Corrib indicated in this plan gives some idea of the length of Saturday’s race, but doesn’t fully reveal the lake’s island-studded nature (below) Photo: W M Nixon
lough corrib3Not only is the race now a convenient half size in length (though still all of 30 miles), but there’s a pit stop for lunch and conviviality at Kilbeg, more or less halfway down the lake where the expansive Corrib is at its narrowest, and there’s a pub nearby. But the very fact that your car and trailer are waiting at the south end of the lake is a real spur to completing the event

On the other hand, with people making last-minute decisions based on the fickle weather of 2019, maybe the handiest contact is direct to organiser John Barry, Rear Commodore (Dinghies) Galway Bay SC, at 086-8111269 – he reports that entries already in range from 420s to a selection of RS dinghies, participant ages are from 15 to 85, and there’s a strong female contingent taking on the challenge.

Meanwhile, the GBSC cruisers are recovering from their Summer Solstice Cruise to the Aran Islands at the weekend, which had a dozen boats taking part. While the sail round Inishmore on Saturday enjoyed Mediterranean conditions, Sunday brought driving easterly rain and a very damp beat home - all very character-building stuff.

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Galway Port & Harbour

Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city and port is located on the northeast side of the bay. The bay is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and from 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to 30 kilometres (19 miles) in breadth.

The Aran Islands are to the west across the entrance and there are numerous small islands within the bay.

Galway Port FAQs

Galway was founded in the 13th century by the de Burgo family, and became an important seaport with sailing ships bearing wine imports and exports of fish, hides and wool.

Not as old as previously thought. Galway bay was once a series of lagoons, known as Loch Lurgan, plied by people in log canoes. Ancient tree stumps exposed by storms in 2010 have been dated back about 7,500 years.

It is about 660,000 tonnes as it is a tidal port.

Capt Brian Sheridan, who succeeded his late father, Capt Frank Sheridan

The dock gates open approximately two hours before high water and close at high water subject to ship movements on each tide.

The typical ship sizes are in the region of 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes

Turbines for about 14 wind projects have been imported in recent years, but the tonnage of these cargoes is light. A European industry report calculates that each turbine generates €10 million in locally generated revenue during construction and logistics/transport.

Yes, Iceland has selected Galway as European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company wholly owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It is "very much a live project", Harbourmaster Capt Sheridan says, and the Port of Galway board is "awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála determination", he says.

90% of the scrap steel is exported to Spain with the balance being shipped to Portugal. Since the pandemic, scrap steel is shipped to the Liverpool where it is either transhipped to larger ships bound for China.

It might look like silage, but in fact, its bales domestic and municipal waste, exported to Denmark where the waste is incinerated, and the heat is used in district heating of homes and schools. It is called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel and has been exported out of Galway since 2013.

The new ferry is arriving at Galway Bay onboard the cargo ship SVENJA. The vessel is currently on passage to Belem, Brazil before making her way across the Atlantic to Galway.

Two Volvo round world races have selected Galway for the prestigious yacht race route. Some 10,000 people welcomed the boats in during its first stopover in 2009, when a festival was marked by stunning weather. It was also selected for the race finish in 2012. The Volvo has changed its name and is now known as the "Ocean Race". Capt Sheridan says that once port expansion and the re-urbanisation of the docklands is complete, the port will welcome the "ocean race, Clipper race, Tall Ships race, Small Ships Regatta and maybe the America's Cup right into the city centre...".

The pandemic was the reason why Seafest did not go ahead in Cork in 2020. Galway will welcome Seafest back after it calls to Waterford and Limerick, thus having been to all the Port cities.

© Afloat 2020

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