Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Galway Will Welcome Female Skipper (19) Setting New Record In Round Britain & Ireland Race

25th May 2022
“Let’s hear it for Wales!” Lou Boorman (19) left, with crew Elin Jones, will be the youngest skipper in Sunday’s start at Plymouth of the Round Britain & Ireland Race, with the first stop at Galway.
Let’s hear it for Wales!” Lou Boorman (19) left, with crew Elin Jones, will be the youngest skipper in Sunday’s start at Plymouth of the Round Britain & Ireland Race, with the first stop at Galway

First raced in 1966, the four-yearly multi-stage 2000-mile Round Britain & Ireland Race - sailed clockwise from the Royal Western Yacht Club in Plymouth - has always featured an Irish stopover. But this coming weekend, when the fleet starts westward from Plymouth on Sunday, May 29th, for the first time that key initial stage-post will be the Port of Galway.

It’s a stopover which will have its own sponsor in the shape of locally-based multi-national IT company Genesys, who are also supporters of the rising Connacht rugby team. With that Genesys muscle behind them for the RB&I Race, Galway Harbour Master Captain Brian Sheridan and the reception team from Galway Bay SC, working together with the city’s hospitality groups, will be able to offer something very special indeed, taking full advantage of the fact that each boat has a mandatory 48-hour stopover.

The 2022 RB&I Course – starting from Plymouth, Galway is Stop 1, Lerwick is Stop 2, and Blyth is Stop 3The 2022 RB&I Course – starting from Plymouth, Galway is Stop 1, Lerwick is Stop 2, and Blyth is Stop 3

As the fleet ranges in size and type from multihulls and 50-footers right down to a vintage 25ft Vertue cutter, they’ll already be well spread out by the time Galway is reached. So with the 48 hours factored in – with each boat then having its own set starting time to begin the next extra-long leg to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands – having the RB&I boats in town will be an expanding feast.

Cover girl. O’Brien Kennedy sailing his new own-designed Leitrim-built 6-ton 26ft Kerry sloop, as seen on the cover of the June 1970 Irish Yachting & Motorboating, the predecessor of Afloat.ie. A fifth place in the large-fleet 1970 Round Britain & Ireland Race established the Kerry’s credentials as a seaworthy performance cruiser.Cover girl. O’Brien Kennedy sailing his new own-designed Leitrim-built 6-ton 26ft Kerry sloop, as seen on the cover of the June 1970 Irish Yachting & Motorboating, the predecessor of Afloat.ie. A fifth place in the large-fleet 1970 Round Britain & Ireland Race established the Kerry’s credentials as a seaworthy performance cruiser.

This year’s race has three notable firsts. Where it had always previously been a two-handed event, 2022 will see a division for fully-crewed entries. After last weekend’s stunning victory by two-handers Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt in the Sun Fast 3300 Cinnamon Girl in the inaugural Kinsale YC 240-mile Inishtearaght Race, it’s a moot point whether being fully-crewed confers truly significant advantages. But in order to accommodate increased personnel numbers, the competing boats – while staying with the same skipper throughout – are allowed a crew change at either Galway, Lerwick or the third stopover at Blyth in Northumberland.

2022’s third notable “first” is quite something, as the age of the youngest skipper – having been at 21 since 1988 – has now seen a significant reduction to 19 thanks to the finalization of the entry by young Welsh sailor Lou Boorman from Pembrokeshire and her shipmate Elin Jones with the Contessa 32 White Knight.

Lou Boorman’s White Knight is a Contessa 32.Lou Boorman’s White Knight is a Contessa 32 

Round Britain & Ireland Race Entry List

The entry list as of 24-05-22 is here

It reveals some special Irish interest. Conor Fogerty of Howth, now racing the Figaro 3 Raw, is renewing his involvement with the RWYC which enabled him to become Ireland’s 2017 “Sailor of the Year” after his success with the Sunfast 3600 Bam in the RWYC Single-Handed Transat, though quite how he’s managing to fit this time-hungry circuit into an already busy 2022 season remains to be seen.

Changing of the Guard. Conor Fogerty becomes Ireland’s “Sailor of the Year” 2017, seen here with 2016 title-holder, Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Muphy. Photo: Brian TurveyChanging of the Guard. Conor Fogerty becomes Ireland’s “Sailor of the Year” 2017, seen here with 2016 title-holder, Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Muphy. Photo: Brian Turvey

The Isle of Man’s Kuba Szymanski, a noted ISORA contender, is also in the lineup with his First 40.7 Polished Manx, and while much is being made of Lou Boorman’s Welsh connections, as her home port is in Milford Haven we can also bring her and White Knight in under the Irish Sea umbrella, giving us three entries of special Irish interest if they’re all there on the line on Sunday.

IRISH INVOLVEMENT IN TIMES PAST

It’s a race with a history of Irish involvement which makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity. Two notable contenders in times past were O’Brien Kennedy with his Leitrim-built Kerry 6-tonner in 1970, and Brian Law and Dickie Gomes of Strangford Lough with the Dick Newick-designed 38ft trimaran Downtown Flyer in 1982.

O’Brien Kennedy placed a very commendable fifth in one of the smallest boats in the fleet in 1970, thereby achieving his aim of establishing his Kerry Class as very seaworthy performance-oriented cruiser, something done with such notable success at a quiet international level that the Kerry now has her own enthusiastic entry on German Wikipedia.

Downtown Flyer’s plans were classic Dick NewickDowntown Flyer’s plans were classic Dick Newick

As for Downtown Flyer, created by a building team headed by Brian Law in Lisburn, she became a legend. She won her class in the 1982 RB&I, and went on to many other successes which reflected the fact that she was well able to sail the 140-mile passage from the Tuskar Rock to Land’s End in eight hours.

Downtown Flyer building in Lisburn in January 1982. Photo: W M NixonDowntown Flyer building in Lisburn in January 1982. Photo: W M Nixon

While Newick trimarans may look distinctive to the point of oddness nowadays, they continue to have their enthusiasts, and Downtown Flyer – now called Panache - was seen as recently as 2018 in Gibraltar in good sea-going order, a reminder that forty years ago, this remarkable machine came storming out of Strangford Lough to a achieve a litany of international success.

The former Downtown Flyer, now known as Panache, seen at La Linnea in Gibraltar in 2018The former Downtown Flyer, now known as Panache, seen at La Linnea in Gibraltar in 2018

So who knows what long-term history will be in the making as the fleet heads for Galway from Plymouth next Sunday. Spare a special thought for Matteo Richardi and Alexandra Robasto in the little Vertue 25 Mea. By the time the fleet gets to Blyth, the comfortable Mee could well be weeks rather than days behind the leaders…….

In the heart of Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard, the Port of Galway is geared up for hospitality.In the heart of Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard, the Port of Galway is geared up for hospitality

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

Email The Author

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.

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

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

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

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2022

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

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

Please show your support for Afloat by donating