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Galway Bay Sailing Club is celebrating an overall win for its Tribal crew at the WIORA championships hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary last weekend. 

The well campaigned Farr 31 took home first place in Class One IRC for the second year in a row.

The GBSC Tribal crew is skippered by Liam Burke.

The breezy championships at Kilrush survived some strong breezes but it was not without incident with a J24 keelboat sinking on the first day.

Afloat's report of the championships is here.

Published in Galway Harbour

The final day of racing in the WIORA West Coast Championships in Kilrush, Principal Race Officer, John Leech, postponed the start of racing by one hour to allow a front to pass through. When racing did get underway on the Shannon Estuary it was decided to run one long race with each class doing four rounds, the spinnaker classes on an Olympic course and the white sails classes on a triangle course.

It was tough and challenging conditions both for the race management team and competitors and John Leech must be commended for getting in the third race to constitute the series. Winds were westerly in excess of 20kts with strong gusts and passing squalls throughout the day. Racing took place in some shelter east of Scattery Island which provided a beautiful spectacle for the many spectators lining the shore.

In Class One it was John Gordon’s X-332 X-Rated at the fore in the heavy conditions taking the Echo Overall prize home to Mayo Sailing Club and they also won the Aki Trophy for the long race. The well campaigned Farr 31, Tribal, from Galway Bay Sailing Club, owned by Liam Burke, took home first place in Class One IRC for the second year in a row.

Class Two was dominated by Darragh McCormack from Foynes Yacht Club on an Albin Express, Relativity, who won in both IRC and Echo classes.

Janx Spirit Overall WIORA winners at KilrushJanx Spirit Overall WIORA winners at Kilrush

In Class Three there was a tie at the top going into the final race betweenTadgh O’Loinsigh’s J24 Janx Spirit from Tralee Bay Sailing Club and clubmate Fergus Kelliher’s J24 Jibe. The young crew on Janx Spirit were reeling in the heavy conditions and for their efforts took the Class Three win in IRC and Echo and also won the Ita McGibney Trophy for the Overall Winner of the West Coast Championships.

On board YachtzeeOn board Yachtzee

In Class Four Division A, Ed Enright’s Beneteau First 375 Liberty on its first outing at the West Coast Championships took the class win. In Class Four Division B, the wooden Cutter, Sally O’Keeffe from Kilrush, built by local boat builder Stephen Morris and Seol Sionna, powered through the fleet in the heavy conditions and was a spectacular sight on the water. The Overall Class Four trophy was raised by Donal McCormack and John Paul Buckley and crew on Battle, from Foynes Yacht Club.

Results are here

Published in WIORA
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There has been a dramatic start to the WIORA Championships at Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary with one boat sinking and the second day of racing cancelled due to strong winds.

This year has a bumper numbers of entries for the WIORA West Coast Championship with thirty-three boats entered with representation from Mayo, Sligo, Galway, Tralee, Foynes, Kilrush, Garrykennedy and Greystones.

Day one of the Kilrush Credit Union West Coast Championships opened with light variable winds which lead to principal race officer John Leech postponing the 1155hrs start for an hour. It was not long before the wind filled in from the north building to a steady 20 knots, race one got underway for all four classes on a triangular course of which there was some spectacular downwind spinnaker reaches.

With the wind still building, race two got underway for all four classes again using a triangular course. The strong winds and heavy rain made for challenging conditions for competitors.

A spokesperson for the regatta told Afloat "At the finish line of race two, two boats met on port and starboard. The starboard hand boat was forced to crash tack which caused the boat to capsize. The three mark boats on the water were quickly on the scene to take the crew of the yacht on board the safety boat and quickly brought them ashore all in good spirits. Efforts were made to recover the boat but unfortunately, the boat later sank; all relevant authorities were informed".

Galway -based sailmaker Yannick Lemonnier who witnessed the capsize posted the photos (below) and said on Facebook: "A bit of [an] event yesterday in WIORA, a typical J24 sinking with +20kts and headsail backing but sadly no opportunity to mark and recover the boat this time". 

It is understood that after the crash tack the boat, (sail number 3050, Jumpin Jive from Greystones) capsized, filled with water and sank as the photos below show

WIORA J/24 Sinks at Kilrush

WIORA J/24 Sinks at Kilrush

WIORA J/24 Sinks at Kilrush

WIORA J/24 Sinks at Kilrush

WIORA J/24 Sinks at Kilrush

WIORA leaders after Day One

Leaders in each class after two races are starting to become clear. In Class 1 IRC Liam’s Burke Farr 31 leads the pack, in Echo all the way from Mayo John Gordon’s W332 X-rated is in first position. Class 2 in both IRC & Echo Darragh McCormack on Relativity, an Albin Express from Foynes Yacht Club leads on both IRC & Echo. In Class 3 Tadgh O Loingsigh’s J24 Janx Spirit from Tralee Bay Sailing Club leads in both IRC & Echo. Class 4 Division A is led by Kevin Reidy’s Shelduck from Foynes Yacht Club, at their first event with their recently acquired Dufour 34, with fellow club sailor Donal McCormack and John Paul Buckley’s Battle the Shamrock 30 leading Class 4 Division B.

Day two racing has been cancelled due to weather.

Results are here

Published in WIORA
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The main area of discussion at this month's WIORA AGM, revolved around rejuvenating the fleet numbers at the annual West Coast Championships and on the west coast in general.

WIORA numbers have been falling in recent years and the Pandemic made things worse.

As Afloat reported previously, 24 members from Counties Kerry, Limerick, Clare and Galway attended the first face to face AGM of the association in two years at the Inn at Dromoland on Thursday, March 3rd. 

the outgoing Commodore, Gary Fort reviewing his three-year tenure, stated that it is now very challenging to maintain vibrant numbers at the annual West Coast Championships and to this end a number of measurers had been put in place over the last three years to encourage sailors, particularly young sailors to participate.

These included a €1,000 grant, to help support a U25 team attending the West Coast championships. This is payable in two €500 instalments over two years, collectable at the event.

Host clubs are to get €500 towards craning costs (or other one-off costs associated with running the event) and any U25 team entering and competing in the Championships will get their entry paid in full.

These measures, it is hoped will help bring younger sailors into the sailing scene and add some youth and vibrancy to the West Coast Championships. WIORA’s funds are by no means substantial, but this was seen by the Commodore and Committee as an essential measure for the next couple of years.

Gary Fort wished the incoming Commodore Raymond McGibney, a well known and respected sailor on the west coast, the best with his term as Commodore in the future.

The West Coast Championships will be hosted by Kilrush in 2022 and take place in the Aran Islands in 2023.

Published in WIORA
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The 2021 West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) AGM was held in Dromoland Inn in County Clare last Thursday evening. The meeting was well attended with representatives from a number of clubs on the western seaboard.

Prior to the meeting, an EGM was held to ratify the eligibility of voting rights on the location of the annual West Coast Championships. The proposal was that one vote would be allocated to a boat that has participated in two of the last three West Coast Championships; previously boats only had to attend one of the last two West Coast Championships. The rationale for the change is to ensure that the boats that make the effort to sail at an away venue, as well as their home venue, get to decide where the event is held and this will hopefully encourage boats from clubs who wish to host the event in the future to attend away events and make their presence felt.

The proposal received the two-thirds majority required to pass.

The AGM began with reports from the officers including the outgoing Commodore, Gary Fort, of Tralee Bay Sailing Club who welcomed the opportunity to meet face to face after two years and thanked everyone who participated in the previous year’s West Coast Championships. He commented on the challenges faced by everyone in sailing in the past two years and looked forward to this year’s West Coast Championships at the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland in Kilrush.

A motion was put to the meeting to provide a grant to cover the entry fee to any Under 25 Teams participating in the West Coast Championships, which was immediately approved by the members.

The venue for the 2024 West Coast Championships was also chosen at the meeting and it will be hosted by Foynes Yacht Club.

Other discussions at the meeting included the change in format for the 2022 West Coast Championships, as reported in Afloat in January, specifically shortening the event from the traditional four-day event. The dates for this year’s three-day event were proposed to the WIORA Committee in October last year and the committee was in favour of trying out “any innovation that will increase participation”, particularly in these uncertain times.

There was also a discussion on ECHO handicaps.

The election of officers saw Raymond McGibney, of Foynes Yacht Club and Tarbert Island Maritime Club, become the new WIORA Commodore. McGibney is well known on the west coast for campaigning his Dehler 34, Dis-a-Ray, for many years. Rachel Conway from Foynes Yacht Club is the new Honorary Secretary and Gary Fort will take on the role of Honorary Treasurer.

The other members of the committee are Liam Burke GBSC, Adrian O’Connell RWYCI, Liam Lynch TBSC, Brian Ford GBSC, Mary McCormack FYC (Under 25 Representative).

McGibney, thanked Gary Fort, Cormac MacDonncha and Liam Madden for their efforts on the WIORA through very difficult times and looked forward to a successful year of sailing ahead.

Published in WIORA
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The Notice of Race and Entry Form for June's West Coast of Ireland (WIORA) Championship being hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland has been published.

This year will see a change to the usual format as the event will run over three days, from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th June inclusive, rather than the traditional four-day event which ran from Wednesday to Saturday.

The rationale for the change comes from feedback from sailors participating in the West Championships over the years, who feel that a three-day event may make it easier for crews to get time away from families and time off work. 

It is scheduled to run eight races for Spinnaker Class and six races for White Sails Class.

Race Officer, John Leech, will be the principal race officer for the Spinnaker Class and a Regional Race Officer will be appointed for the White Sails Class. 

The event will be located at Kilrush Marina with live music and entertainment. 

Download the NOR below 

Published in WIORA
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When Liam Burke’s interesting Farr 31 Tribal from Galway Bay SC became the new West of Ireland champion in racing the WIORA series with Tralee Bay SC at Fenit recently, it marked the latest successful stage in the Tribal Youth Initiative, which aims to give structure to the transferring of junior dinghy sailing skills to the cruiser-racer fleets. At the same time, the juniors themselves found they had much to learn, none more so than Olivia Cure (GBSC), who was the only female sailor in the junior group taking Tribal to Kerry with Liam.

“Four days of perfect sailing conditions and warm sunny weather in Fenit was a real treat for all those involved” she comments. "Every race was a challenge in itself, but very rewarding all the same”. As bowman Jack Nolan put it: "The feeling of satisfaction I got from a fantastic Spinnaker hoist was immense” he recalls.

"One thing that stuck out for me” continues Olivia, "was how relaxed the atmosphere was on board. From our skipper and tactician at the stern, to the crew at the bow - everyone had their job, and it made for a very laid-back atmosphere and environment".

Tribal leading WIORA on a benign Atlantic at Tralee Bay. She’s a classic vintage Farr which continues to be competitive.Tribal leading WIORA on a benign Atlantic at Tralee Bay. She’s a classic vintage Farr which continues to be competitive.

"There are some really big differences between dinghies and cruisers, but also many parallels." said Justin Mitchell Ward when asked about his experience at Wiora. "The teamwork skills that I have learned sailing 420s greatly aided me in operating as an efficient member of a much larger crew. "

"Most of our crew also sail dinghies", concludes Olivia, "and we agreed that all the little skills and techniques we picked up racing 420s really helped us in sailing Tribal. We all had a blast at WIORA this year, and for that I'd like to thank Liam Burke, David Carberry, and all the organisers of WIORA for a great few days of racing".

Olivia Cure on the helm, David Carbery on the main, and Ronan Shepard trimming spinnaker on Tribal.Olivia Cure on the helm, David Carbery on the main, and Ronan Shepard trimming spinnaker on Tribal.

Published in WIORA
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The Bon Secours WIORA West Coast Championship was held in Tralee Bay Sailing Club from Aug 25-28 with light breezes and glorious sunshine on three days out of four. 

PRO John Leech did an amazing job to get nine races in for all three fleets. He even managed one on Friday despite poor visibility and fickle winds.

IRC 1 was a masterclass in light air sailing from the Farr 31 Tribal from GBSC with Liam Burke at the helm. She won 7 races to easily take the class win. Jaguar (Gary Fort) a J92s from the host club was second with Dexterity an X332 from FYC (Team Foynes) in third.

Tribal also did the business in ECHO 1 but here it was Ibaraki (Mike Guilfoyle) from GBSC in second with Jaguar in third.

IRC was a real ding dong battle between the J 24s from Foynes and a Corby 25 from TBSC. All three won races but at the finish, it was Lady J (Ray McGibney) from FYC who took the trophy. David Buckley’s Eclipse from TBSC was a close second with Darragh McCormack of FYC on Stouche in third. In ECHO 2 LadyJ was also the winner. Eclipse and Stouche swapped places here.

The white sails fleet enjoyed very close racing. Samphire (Mary O’Sullivan) from TBSC was the early leader but Seasmoke (Kevin Reidy) FYC took matters into his own hands on day two with two bullets and a second in the three races. Going into the last day it was very tight with the all-important second discard likely to come into play. Bev Lowes on Poitin from FYC took both races to win by one point from Samphire with Seasmoke on the same total taking third.

Liam Burke sailing the Farr 31 "TRIBAL" and his young crew from Galway Sailing Club won 7 races out of 9 races to win his class at WIORA. Tribal also won under ECHO 1. Photo from left to right -David Carbery, Cormac Conneely, Justin Mitchel Ward, Jack Nolan, Liam Burke (Skipper) Ronan Shepard and Olivia Cure.Liam Burke sailing the Farr 31 "TRIBAL" and his young crew from Galway Sailing Club won 7 races out of 9 races to win his class at WIORA. Tribal also won under ECHO 1. Photo from left to right -David Carbery, Cormac Conneely, Justin Mitchel Ward, Jack Nolan, Liam Burke (Skipper) Ronan Shepard and Olivia Cure.

WIORA now looks forward to next year’s event to be held on the Shannon Estuary under the burgee of the Royal Western Yacht Club in Kilrush.

Full results available here

Published in WIORA
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The 2023 West of Ireland Offshore Racing (WIORA) Championships will be sailed at Kilronan Harbour on Inismor, following a vote at the WIORA AGM last week.

Galway Bay Sailing Club with Cuman Seoltoireacht Kilronan as well as Foynes Yacht Club made bids to host the week and these were presented at the AGM.

Kilronan's successful bid has been hailed as a "significant benefit to sailing in the West of Ireland and the people of Aran".

In addition to promising another top-class sailing event in 2023, the regatta will be instrumental in supporting Kilronan in its bid to get permanent Pontoons in place, this process has already started, a GBSC spokeswoman told Afloat. 

WIORA previously sailed on InisMor in 2017, as Afloat reported here.

Building on the experience of 2017 this will be a great social event. It will give a much-needed boost to a community hard hit by Covid, according to GBSC.

It's another feather in the cap for west coast sailing that also sees the Round Britain & Ireland Race Stopover arriving into Galway Port in 2022 as Afloat reported here.

Published in WIORA
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Tralee Bay Sailing Club (TBSC) in Fenit, County Kerry and WIORA have jointly announced that the WIORA Championships scheduled for September at the most westerly port in Europe have been cancelled.

TBSC Commodore Liam Lynch told Afloat 'With the current coronavirus restrictions and the likelihood of further outbreaks, the club and organisation agreed that it would be impossible to stage the event to the standard expected'.

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