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The flagship event of the Galway Sea Festival is the Galway Bay Sailing Club Annual Regatta. The regatta which takes place from Friday evening through to Monday afternoon involves three days racing in Galway Bay. Founded in 1969 the Galway Bay Sailing Club is moving into the centre of Galway from its Rinville base for the Regatta which has been renamed the Galway Sea Festival Regatta in honour of the inaugural Galway Sea Festival. Galway Harbour and Marina will be awash with colour as they host the fleets of the Galway Bay Sailing Club and the Headquarters and Club House for the Regatta will be located in the Harbour Hotel for race registration, post race refreshments and the venue for prize giving ceremonies each evening.

The Galway Sea Festival Regatta is a significant event in the sailing calendar and the first major sailing competition of the 2013 season. An open competition boats from Clifden, Westport, Sligo and Kilrush are expected to take part with crews arriving from all over the country.

Prior to the start of racing on Friday evening 31st May the boats will be blessed at 6pm by Fr. Dick Lyng and the Rev Gary Hastings. After the blessing the first race of the regatta is a short coastal raced named the Harbour Hotel Coastal Race in honour of the new Club House for the Regatta. The race start will be off Mutton Island finishing at the Leverets and can be viewable from Salthill.

Following the conclusion of the Race the boats will congregate in the area of the Leverets before commencing what will be a colourful Parade of Sail into Galway Docks at approximately 8-9pm.

There are three races on Saturday 11am, 1pm and 3pm and two races on Sunday at 12pm and 2pm. The Galway Bay Sailing Club Junior and Accessible Sailing fleets take to the water on Sunday afternoon to welcome the racing fleets ashore and on Monday it's the turn of Dinghies with their regatta which will include the Galway Bay Sailing Club DART catamaran fleet which is the largest in Ireland.

Galway Bay Sailing Club Commodore Dave Vinnell says "Galway Bay Sailing Club is pleased to be an enthusiastic supporter of this the first Galway Sea Festival. As the main sailing club on the bay and one of the most active on the whole of the West Coast, GBSC has from the inception of the Galway Sea Festival, whole heartedly supported it as one of its partners."

The members, committee and Flag Officers of GBSC wish Galway Sea Festival a successful event, we are proud to be involved and intend having an exciting, enjoyable and entertaining Festival both on and off the water. It is our hope and expectation that the Festival becomes an annual event and continues to grow from year to year."

Prize giving will take place each night in the Harbour Hotel at approximately 10.30pm on Friday evening, 8,30pm on Saturday evening and 6.30pm on Monday evening. Regatta registration commences from 2pm on Friday 31st May.

General Manager of the Harbour Hotel Stefan Lundstrom said  "It is great to have an event back in the harbour area after the huge success of the Volvo Ocean Race. We are delighted to be Headquarters of the Galway Bay Sailing Club Regatta and we look forward to welcoming all the sailors, skippers and public alike through our doors for great food, great craic and entertainment over the June Bank Holiday Weekend.'"

Published in Galway Harbour
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"Harbour rots ships and ruins men". So said Horatio Nelson. He not only knew it from his own extensive command experience, but from time to time during long stays in port, he proved it personally with cringe-making results. He should have remembered that other saying of the sea: A busy ship is a happy ship. And at a more basic level, surveyors and boat maintenance experts will tell you the simple truth, that boats and their equipment usually don't get worn out, but they slowly rot through disuse.

With modern materials, it's not rot as they'd have known it in Nelson's day. But whatever you might call it, it makes things non-functional. Yet a boat which is on the move - sailing regularly and extensively - soon has everything working sweetly, for the demands of the sea are such that the attitude of "sure 'twill do" soon provides its own come-uppance.

Out in the west, they've an attractive boat which is making a fair bid to be a perpetual motion machine, with everything functioning smoothly. It's not that long ago that Martin Breen of Galway bought the Reflex 38 Lynx, but since then she has been in the frame in so many major offshore events, and under so many different sponsorship names, that you could be forgiven for thinking he's owned her for more than a decade, and that there are two or three different boats involved.

At the time he bought her, we noted that she seemed to be the ideal size of boat for Irish conditions. The First 40.7, globally the most successful production-built frontline offshore racer of the past twenty years and a super boat with it, is just that little bit too big for Irish conditions in terms of personnel demands and maintenance requirements. But if you go down to some of the hotter 36ft and 34ft machines, you often find you're missing the boat in terms of catching tidal patterns, and the basic realities of seagoing comfort, even though the brilliant J/109 frequently proves otherwise.

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Settling in shortly after the start of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle, 2011

But 38ft LOA - that is just spot on. When Christian Stimson created what is now the Reflex 38 in 1998, he came up with a concept which has withstood the test of time. She can sail up to her rating, and has proven a steady and successful performer in a wide variety of conditions, proving that the comment by Robert Scheidt - that sailing is a consistency sport - applies every bit as much offshore as in the bays.

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Successful debut. Dawn comes gently over the boat in winning mode in the Dun Laogaire-Dingle Race 2011

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Pre-start manoeuvres off Wicklow at the 2012 Round Ireland Race

The new Breen boat made her Irish debut with the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race in 2011, and really stuffed it into the fleets from other Irish coasts, for she raced as Galway Harbour, and had an excellent overall win. Then last year it was active members of NUI Galway SC past and present who took her over under the leadership of Cathal Clarke, and they became the ICRA Boat of the Year with a superb all-round programme which included a class win in a major ISORA race, and the class win – including beating the hottest Reflex 38 from Britain – in the Round Ireland Race.

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Not always sunny – determined conditions in the Round Ireland Race 2012

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Grey day at sea, Round Ireland Race 2012, with Joan Mulloy from Mayo SC trimming the spinnaker

Between times, the boat didn't rest, as Martin Breen has his own crew for inshore regattas. But this year, the pace is into an even higher gear with Aodhan Fitzgerald (who has been involved since the boat first reached Ireland) in overall charge offshore in a programme which is simply mind-boggling. It was launched yesterday evening in Galway with the boat now in the Discover Ireland livery, and she'll be promoting the Emerald Isle and The Gathering Cruise in a series of campaigns which start today off Rinville at 1000hrs with the 60-mile Clarenbridge Crystal Race in Galway Bay. The crew will be clad from head to toe in new kit provided by Dubarry, with the boat setting a fine new set of threads from Des McWilliam, saling in conditions which look most unlikely to include any calm spots.

Then it's off to Scotland round Ireland's bumpy nor'west corner for the Scottish Series from May 24th to 27th with the boat to be raced by Martin Breen's GBSC team, then south to Dun Laoghaire to be on station for defending the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle title, starting the 266 mile course (which is also a Fastnet qualifier) on June 7th, then on from Dingle it's immediately into the WIORA and ICRA championships just round the corner at Fenit on Tralee Bay, then before June is out, they're challenging for the Sovereign's Cup in Kinsale.

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The gang's all here – the 15-strong crew panel's select offshore squad

The total crew panel is 15, ranging in age from 19 to 55, and for the offshore programme the lineup is Aodhan Fitzgerald (skipper/navigator), Johnny Murphy (tactician/trimmer), Neil Spain (driver), Ben Scallan (driver), Martin Breen (driver), Cathal Clarke (bowman), Joan Mulloy (trimmer), Nigel Moss (trimmer), Ruairi de Faoite (mast), and Louis Mulloy (bowman).

While the crew emphasis is on Connacht, in the way of offshore racing this team also includes people from most other parts of Ireland, people that you'd meet in the course of other campaigns, people who seem to fit in with your own boat's way of doing things. If you tried to delineate a clear career path on how to become part of a group like this, you'd find it very difficult. There is no clearcut way. It seems to happen by a mixture of telepathy and osmosis. You are impressed by the way people are sailing another boat, and you make it your business to get them inside your tent.

Because for sure, the business of successfully balancing different temperaments is going to be paramount in a season in which they're only getting going as the Sovereign's Cup draws to a close. The high point of the year is going to be the Rolex Fastnet Race in August. By the time the boat gets to Cowes, she'll have sailed more than a thousand miles in delivery trips.

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Stating the obvious? Starting the Rolex Fastnet Race with this message emblazoned on your topsides is going to invite ribald comment from the opposition. But displaying something similar has proven successful in the past.

And there she'll be in the Solent among 350 other Fastnet wannabees, with Discover Ireland boldly displayed along her topsides. They'll be getting some smartass comments about that. After all, what else is the Fastnet Race all about? Back in 1975, when the Golden Jubilee Fastnet Race included a fleet for classics racing for the Iolaire Block presented by Don Street, one splendid old gaff cutter had her crew all kitted out in crisp new T-shirts, each one imprinted with different letters. When they all lined up along the rail, those T-shirts read: "What is the way to the Fastnet Rock, please?" In Irish. And it worked. They won the Iolaire Block, even though Iolaire was herself racing. So let's hope that having discoverireland.ie emblazoned prominently on the topsides is going to be equally successful in the Fastnet Race for the boat formerly known as Lynx.

What with this extraordinary campaign, and the news this week about Galway plunging ahead with its new harbour, it's very clear that in the 21st Century, it's totally superfluous to warble on about the west being awake. For a long time now, it hasn't been asleep.

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WM Nixon's Saturday Sailing blog appears every Saturday on Afloat.ie

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Published in W M Nixon

#GalwayHarbour - Plans for the expansion of Galway Harbour are "99 per cent ready to go", as the Galway Independent reports.

Eamon Bradshaw, CEO of the Galway Harbour Company, said that the application for the new development would be submitted by the end of June.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the scheme will be the first Irish project lodged under new legislation that provides for planning permission on the grounds of "overriding public interest".

Bradshaw says that the necessary Natura Impact Statement has been completed, and economic and financial details were now being finalised for the redevelopment project at the harbour, recently recognised by the Government as a 'port of regional significance'.

Should it get the go-ahead from An Bord Pleanála, the new harbour will extend almost 1km out to sea with 660m of quay berth and plenty of space for cargo and container ships, oil tankers, fishing vessels and passenger ships.

The project will be completed in four phases, with the first €50 million phase extending the port by some 57 acres to accommodate a greater number of commercial ships and modern cruise liners.

Galway City Council recently granted extra time to the Galway Harbour Company for pre-expansion demolition works in the docks area.

The Galway Independent has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

#ShippingHay-Cargo deliveries of hay to Galway Harbour port is under consideration of Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney in a bid to address the fodder crisis, according to Galway Bay FM.

Roscommon/South Leitrim Independent TD Denis Naughten says the Minister has confirmed he is exploring the idea of leasing a ship for such a delivery to Galway and other ports nationwide.

He says haulage of fodder by road is limiting the amount that can be imported and also costs substantially more than a large scale shipment.

Speaking to Galway Bay fm news, Deputy Naughten says farmers are increasingly concerned because of a lack of carryover of fodder and cannot afford to wait for supply.

 

Published in Galway Harbour

Galway City Marina is situated in the confines of Galway Harbour and is operated by the Galway harbour company. Freshwater and electrical power is available at the pontoons. Power cars can be purchased from the harbour office during the day and also from a local pub 'Bar 8' on dock located on Dock Road. A number of visitor pontoons are available for hire during the summer and for winter layup. Sailors intending to call to Galway Harbour should first make contact with the Harbour office to determine if a berth is available, as demand is high in this quiet and beautiful part of Ireland.

Published in Irish Marinas

#GalwayPort - Galway's city manager has welcomed the recognition of Galway Port by Government as a 'port of regional significance'.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the National Ports Plan launched this week brings about a move away from a 'one size fits all' policy in the ports sector to a three-tier stricture that recognises the different roles that Ireland's ports play in the economy at both a national and regional level.

Galway Port is one of 14 ports, five of them in State hands, that account for some 8% of national trade, and which will be placed within a local authority-led governance and shareholding structure.

Galway Bay FM quotes city manager Joe O'Neill as saying that it's as yet to early to speculate on plans to transfer control of the port to the local authority before the necessary legislation is put in place.

It is also unclear whether it will be the city, county or a combination of both that would be responsible for the port in the coming years.

Meanwhile, the Galway Harbour Company is expected to seek planning permission for the first phase of its expansion plans shortly.

In January, Afloat.ie reported on a 'fast-track' on the cards for the redevelopment scheme after plans were revived in August last year.

The new first phase, at a cost of €50 million, will see the port extended by some 57 acres to accommodate a greater number of commercial ships and the new generation of cruise liners.

And as Galway Bay FM confirms, the plans will be lodged with An Bord Pleanala under IROPI (Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest) legislation.

Published in Galway Harbour

#SEMESTER SHIP – Having made a recent visit to Galway, the cruiseship Explorer with more than 800 students, academics and crew are on board, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, is currently heading to the opposite side of the island, with a visit to Dublin Port, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 25,000 tonnes vessel with its floating campus is due to dock in the capital tomorrow morning at Ocean Pier. The 180m vessel, formerly the Olympic Explorer built in 2000 for Royal Olympic Cruises is currently providing a "semester at sea" (SAS) programme through a world tour.

The SAS is operated on a not-for-profit initiative for the Institute for Shipboard Education, in co-operation with the University of Virginia in the US. Students taking the educational programme had set off on the world voyage from Halifax, Nova Scotia, with the first leg to Galway.

When Explorer berths in Dublin Port, she will join the United States Navy landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43) which as previously reported on Afloat.ie had already arrived last Thursday for the American Football Week.

It was downriver from her Ocean Pier berth at the nearby O2 Arena, where last night's televised "The Gathering: Notre Dame- A Welcome Home" , a special concert which was held for fans in the Docklands venue.

Today the Emerald Isle Classic with 33,000 fans of the games two big boys, Notre Dame and the Navy, is been held this afternoon, on the far side of the Liffey at the Aviva Stadium.

After her two-day call to Dublin the Explorer continues on its global tour with calls to the UK, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Dominica.

Published in Cruise Liners

#TALLSHIP GALWAY – Not all tallships visiting Irish waters were concentrated in Dublin Port for the successful tallships festival, as the French three-masted barque Belém, built in 1896, docked into Galway Harbour last week, writes Jehan Ashmore.

She moored alongside the North Dun Aengus Quay, in the single dock basin port, where the veteran vessel (116 years old!) stayed for two nights. On board were 49 trainees who had made the passage from St. Malo in Brittany.

Belém which is run by the Paris based Belem Fondation, has had a long and varied career, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

According to Galway Harbour Master, Brian Sheridan she has had an "interesting history" trading mostly to the West Indies and Guyana before being owned by the Duke of Westminster and also by Arthur Ernest Guinness.

In recent years Belém has called to several Irish ports, with the last visit to Galway in 2007 and also to Dublin in 2010 for the inaugural French Market Festival. She also took part in the first Tall Ships Races to be hsoted in Waterford in 2006.

She has also been involved in transporting commercial quantities of wine between Bordeaux and Quebec and also on a publicity wine-trade marketing visit to Dublin, prior to her call in 2010.

Published in Tall Ships

#CAPITAL CRUISE CALLS – Tonight two cruiseships are due to depart Dublin Port, they are Plantours Cruises Hamburg (2007/15,067grt), which made its maiden 'Irish' debut call to the capital, followed by Compagnie du Ponant's Le Diamant, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Plantours is a German based operator and is one of several new entrants providing cruises to Irish ports, as previously reported on Afloat.ie. Among the newcomers are MSC Cruises, whose MSC Lirica finally made her first call to Cobh at the weekend, as an earlier scheduled call this month, was cancelled due to bad weather.

Both the visiting vessels to Dublin Port today, had by coincidence arrived from Penzance, Cornwall and the Hamburg, is no stranger to the capital, having previously operated as Hapag-Lloyd's C. Columbus.

Whereas the French operated Le Diamant (1974/8,282grt) has been in Irish waters throughout this month, with a call to Galway on 17th August. On the same day Voyages of Discovery, which is part of the All Leisure Group, saw their Discovery also make an anchorage call of the mid-western port.

Published in Cruise Liners

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - A new accessible pontoon and ramp in Galway Harbour will enable disabled sailors to get fully involved in events to celebrate the Volvo Ocean Race finale next weekend, the Galway City Tribune reports.

The permanent pontoon has been set up at the docks in the city centre, giving wheelchair users complete access to and from boats moored in the marina - along with the thousands who will be given the opportunity to learn to sail during the VOR weekend.

A highlight of the festivities will be the Irish Disabled Sailing Association regatta, which will see over 100 sailors with physical disabilities in competition on Galway Bay.

Previously the only access for disabled sailors in Galway was via a small slipway at Galway Bay Sailing Club in Oranmore, which made boarding and alighting an awkward process.

But the new pontoon is hoped to leave a lasting legacy for the City of the Tribes - and encourage many more wheelchair users to get afloat.

“The rehearsal last week went really well," said Liz Gantly of the Galway Speeders Club, which promotes sport for young people with disabilities. "We are hoping to have over 100 disabled people from all over the country trying out sailing during the Volvo Ocean Race.”

The Galway City Tribune has more on the story HERE.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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