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An Spidéal, Sean Waddilove's "Coolest Place to Sail", Hosts Annual Regatta this Weekend

16th September 2021
Dinghies prepare to launch at An Spidéail with Cumann Seoltóireachta an Spidéil which holds its annual regatta this Saturday (Sept 18)
Dinghies prepare to launch at An Spidéail with Cumann Seoltóireachta an Spidéil which holds its annual regatta this Saturday (Sept 18) Credit: Dave Cahill

When Irish Olympic sailor Sean Waddilove was asked to name his “coolest” location to sail from, he chose An Spidéal in Co Galway.

Waddilove, who represented Ireland with Robert Dickson in their 49er dinghy in Japan, is from Skerries, Co Dublin.

However, in a recent profile, he was clearly impressed by the stunning Spiddal seascape - and the hospitality onshore with local sailing club Cumann Seoltóireachta an Spidéil (CSS).

Dolphins have been known to do star turns off An Sean Céibh, and a pod swam with the club's fleet one recent Sunday.

The Spiddal club and its commodore Dave Cahill hosts the annual regatta on Saturday. (Sept 18)

Weather permitting, and with or without Waddilove and dolphins – there will be a keen contest on the water.

Racing will take place in several dinghy categories – Optimists, Pico and Topaz, and Laser/420 - under Portsmouth Yardstick rules.

Optimists, involving junior sailors, will compete on Saturday morning from 11.30 am.

Dinghy racing in An Spidéal in Co Galway will take place in several dinghy categories – Optimists, Pico and Topaz, and Laser/420 - under Portsmouth Yardstick rulesDinghy racing in An Spidéal in Co Galway will take place in several dinghy categories – Optimists, Pico and Topaz, and Laser/420 - under Portsmouth Yardstick rules

The main fleet of 420s, Lasers, Topaz and Pico dinghies will take to the water from 2 pm, with the first of three races starting at 2.30 pm.

Racing can be viewed onshore – particularly with a good pair of binoculars – between 11.30 am and 4 pm.

CSS is a bilingual dinghy sailing club based in An Spidéil, Co Galway.

It was founded in 2002 by a group of parents who were keen to encourage junior sailing, and its initial fleet comprised Optimists and 420s.

CSS has hosted both national and regional 420 class championships, and it is an ISA-approved training centre, running a popular junior sailing course every year.

CSS member Rob Talbot and Rian De Bairéid of Galway City Sailing Club were recent winners of the marathon Cong-Galway race, competing in a 420 dinghy.

Last year, the club initiated a new annual award in memory of the late sea kayaker, mountaineer and circuit court judge John Hannan, who died in February 2020.

The Hannan family were very involved in CSS, with Stephanie Hannan being the club sail training organiser for a number of years.

The Hannan trophy, a piece of glassware in the shape of a sailing dinghy on bog oak, was designed and made by Sue Donnellan’s glass craft design studio in An Ceardlann, An Spidéal.

It will be presented at the regatta this year by Marcus Hannan, who is also a very proficient sailor.

CSS is located in the centre of An Spidéil, sailing out of the Sean Céibh every Sunday.

Published in Galway Harbour
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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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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