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Displaying items by tag: Galway Bay

Open water swimmers at Galway's Blackrock tower tend to swim east, but scientists would love it if they sometimes swam west – weather permitting.

That’s an area rich in seagrass in Galway Bay, and one of a number of habitats that are of particular interest.

The snake-like grass which moves hypnotically with the waves and grows in meadows in certain coastal areas is an "indicator organism”.

Dr Noirin Burke of Galway AtlantaquariaDr Noirin Burke of Galway Atlantaquaria

That means it is a type of “underwater canary in the coal mine”, which can signify the health of a marine ecosystem.

Seagrass (Zostera noltil)Seagrass (Zostera noltil)

Coastal walkers are being asked to report any signs of seagrass they may find to help complete Ireland’s map of its locations.

Dr Jonathan Lefcheck of University of MarylandDr Jonathan Lefcheck of University of Maryland

Galway Atlantaquaria’s Dr Noirín Burke took Wavelengths for a paddle to explain more, and Dr Jonathan Lefcheck of the University of Maryland, who visited Ireland last year, also gave some background on its significance and why citizen science can help.

Published in Wavelength Podcast

Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) swept the boards at the annual Cumann Seoltóireachta an Spidéil (CSS) regatta at the weekend.

Conditions proved promising for the event off An Spidéil, Co Galway, with light winds for the Oppie fleet picking up to a westerly force of ten to 12 knots in the afternoon for the mixed fleet.

This allowed race officer Stephen O’Gorman to run three races for both Oppies and the mixed fleet.

Roisin Mitchell Ward and Killian Mathieu of GBSC, overall winners of the mixed fleet, with Cumann Seoltóireachta an Spidéil (CSS) commodore Eoin Ó ConghaíleRoisin Mitchell Ward and Killian Mathieu of GBSC, overall winners of the mixed fleet, with Cumann Seoltóireachta an Spidéil (CSS) Commodore Eoin Ó Conghaíle

A total of nine Oppies competed, with GBSC’s Edward Fitzmaurice coming first, club mates Jake Molloy second, and Rossa Mitchell Ward taking third.

Liam Riggott was first CSS sailor in the Oppie class, and both he and Seán Ó Conghaíle competed in the mixed fleet in the afternoon.

Rossa Mitchell Ward of GBSC was third in the Oppies at the CSS regatta 2023Rossa Mitchell Ward of GBSC was third in the Oppies at the CSS regatta 2023

Roisín Mitchell Ward and Kilian Mathieu of GBSC were first overall, sailing a 420, in the mixed fleet, and were closely pressed by Charlie Donald and James Harvey of CSS, who came second overall.

Kate Barry and Eilí McMahon of GBSC, also sailing a 420, were third overall in the mixed fleet.

The first Pico home was sailed by Niamh Kearns and Diarmuid Canavan of CSS, followed by Sarah Donald of CSS (first junior in the Pico). Rory McHale and Sean Ó Conghaíle sailed the first Topaz home.

Niamh Kearns and Diarmuid Canavan of CSS, first Laser Pico home in the CSS regatta 2023 with commodore Eoin O ConghaíleNiamh Kearns and Diarmuid Canavan of CSS, first Laser Pico home in the CSS regatta 2023 with commodore Eoin O Conghaíle

Liam Riggott of CSS, first club Oppie home at the CSS regatta 2023, with commodore Eoin Ó ConghaíleLiam Riggott of CSS, first club Oppie home at the CSS regatta 2023, with commodore Eoin Ó Conghaíle

James Harvey and Charlie Donald of CSS who were second 420 and second overall in the mixed fleet at CSS regatta, with commodore Eoin Ó ConghaíleJames Harvey and Charlie Donald of CSS who were second 420 and second overall in the mixed fleet at CSS regatta, with commodore Eoin Ó Conghaíle

Edward Fitzmaurice of GBSC was first in the Oppies at the CSS regatta 2023Edward Fitzmaurice of GBSC was first in the Oppies at the CSS regatta 2023

Jake Molloy of GBSC was second in the Oppies at the CSS regatta 2023 Jake Molloy of GBSC was second in the Oppies at the CSS regatta 2023 

Galway City Sailing Club is hosting its junior regatta next Saturday, September 16th.

Published in Galway Harbour

Galway RNLI received a request from the Irish Coast Guard to launch and assist two kayakers who were reportedly in trouble off Hare Island in the inner Galway Bay.

The volunteer crew promptly launched the lifeboat with crew members Dave Badger, Stefanie Carr, James Rattigan, and Brian Niland on board.

They were able to locate the kayakers southwest of Hare Island. The sea conditions were favorable with little wind and good visibility. The crew managed to rescue the kayakers and their kayaks and brought them safely back to shore.

Dave Badger, who was the helm on board the lifeboat, emphasized the importance of having a means to call for help when out on the water, especially if you get into difficulty.

The kayakers managed to call for help using their mobile phone when they could not return to shore. Dave Badger encourages everyone to always carry a means of calling for help as part of their kayaking kit and keep it within reach at all times. In case of emergency, it is important to dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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About 100 swimmers will set off this morning on the annual Galway Bay swim, one of the largest open water events of its type on the West Coast calendar.

As Afloat reported previously, the swimmers will leave Aughinish on the Clare side of Galway Bay from 8 am to make the 13km traverse to Blackrock Tower in Salthill.

First participants are expected at Blackrock from 12 noon, where they will receive a warm welcome in every sense.

The 16th Frances Thornton Memorial swim was due to have been held on July 15th, but weather forced its postponement to August. Once again, a small craft weather warning led to another deferral, and some swimmers made their own arrangements, with safety craft, to ensure they could complete the challenge in aid of Cancer Care West.

A total of 154 had registered – 65 solo swimmers and 90 swimmers in 25 in relay teams. The event is Cancer Care West’s biggest fundraising event of the year, and well over a million euro has been raised for the charity to date.

Named after the late Frances Thornton of Galway, this year’s event is set to raise over 100,000 euro.

Swimmers have to undergo a time trial before being accepted, and are accompanied by RIBs from Clare to Galway crewed by a large group of experienced volunteers, including local inshore fishermen, swimmers and sailors, the RNLI and Doolin Coast Guard, Oranmore-Maree Coastal Rescue and Civil Defence.

For the final 100 metres into Blackrock diving tower, paddle boards and kayaks will guide the swimmers home.

Published in Sea Swim
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The 2023 Galway Bay Swim, which has been postponed twice due to weather, is due to take place this Saturday (Sep 9).

If conditions, permit, the fundraiser for Cancer Care West will set off from Aughinish on the Clare side of Galway Bay for Blackrock Tower in Salthill.

A total of 154 swimmers were registered when the first date was set in July – including 65 solo swimmers and 25 relay teams involving 89 swimmers.

A second date in August also had to be abandoned due to Met Éireann small craft warnings.

However, some committed participants have already completed their 13km crossing of the bay, having made individual safety arrangements.

One such is Wotjek Petasz, who completed his swim last weekend with safety boat support provided by Paddy Crowe of Inis Oírr, Páraic Conneely of Tigh Ned and Cáít Fieldman.

Crowe, an experienced mariner, said they witnessed four minke whales and up to 40 dolphins feeding en route across the bay, which he described as a “fantastic sight”.

Petasz has previously completed it three times before, including in a relay team and the “virtual” event organised by Cancer Care West during Covid-19.

Named after the late Frances Thornton of Galway, the event is Cancer Care West's biggest fundraiser. Well over 1 million euro has been raised for the charity to date, and this year’s event is set to raise over 100,000 euro.

Swimmers have to undergo a time trial before being accepted, and are accompanied by RIBs from Clare to Galway by a large group of experienced volunteers, including local inshore fishermen and sailors, the RNLI and Doolin Coast Guard, Oranmore-Maree Coastal Search Unit, and Civil Defence.

Updates on the rescheduled swim date will be on the Galway Bay swim website

Published in Sea Swim
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Kevin O’Brien’s Blue Shark was the winner of the best-dressed boat award at this year’s annual Blessing of Galway Bay.

Trumpeteer Johnny Carroll performed at the ceremony, attracting many boat-owners, family and friends.

Runner-up in the best-dressed contest was Robert O'Neill's Ray of Sunshine.

Robert O'Neill's 'Ray of Sunshine' which was runner up for the best dressed boat at the Blessing of Galway Bay Photo: Joe O'ShaughnessyRobert O'Neill's 'Ray of Sunshine' which was runner up for the best dressed boat at the Blessing of Galway Bay Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

The event was organised was hosted by the Cladonian Mariners’ Boat Club and local vessel owners, with celebrants including Fr Matthew Farrell O.P. of St Mary’s on the Claddagh and Fr Tom McCarthy OP.

Fr Matthew Farrell O.P blessing Galway Bay, the boats and all who sail in them during the annual ceremony Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy6 - Fr Matthew Farrell O.P blessing Galway Bay, the boats and all who sail in them during the annual ceremony Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

The blessing extends to the boats, the nets on board fishing vessels, and the people crewing them, with holy water sprinkled in the direction of the fleet.

Pictured on board Joe Shoer's boat, Teegan, after the annual Blessing of Galway Bay were, from left: Pat Cantwell, Padraig Joyce, Peter and Mairead Rabbitte, Josephine O'Neill, Fr Matthew Farrell O.P. and Fr Tom McCarthy O.P. Photo: Joe O'ShaughnessyPictured on board Joe Shoer's boat, Teegan, after the annual Blessing of Galway Bay were, from left: Pat Cantwell, Padraig Joyce, Peter and Mairead Rabbitte, Josephine O'Neill, Fr Matthew Farrell O.P. and Fr Tom McCarthy O.P. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

 Evening sets in as boats sail back to the Claddagh after the Blessing of Galway Bay Photo: Joe O'ShaughnessyEvening sets in as boats sail back to the Claddagh after the Blessing of Galway Bay Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Watching the Blessing of Galway Bay ceremony from on board the Lady Margaret Photo: Joe O'ShaughnessyWatching the Blessing of Galway Bay ceremony from on board the Lady Margaret Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Fr Matthew Farrell O.P blessing Galway Bay, the boats and all who sail in them during the annual ceremony Photo: Joe O'ShaughnessyFr Matthew Farrell O.P blessing Galway Bay, the boats and all who sail in them during the annual ceremony Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Trumpeter Johnny Carroll performing beside Fr Tom McCarthy O.P. on board the Teegan after the annual Blessing of Galway Bay Ceremony Photo: Joe O'ShaughnessyTrumpeter Johnny Carroll performing beside Fr Tom McCarthy O.P. on board the Teegan after the annual Blessing of Galway Bay Ceremony Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Trumpeteer Johnny Carroll performing after the annual Blessing of Galway Bay Ceremony. Looking on are Johnny's wife Anne, Ger O'Neill (left) and Joe Shoer, both members of the Mariners Club organising committee Photo: Joe O'ShaughnessyTrumpeteer Johnny Carroll performing after the annual Blessing of Galway Bay Ceremony. Looking on are Johnny's wife Anne, Ger O'Neill (left) and Joe Shoer, both members of the Mariners Club organising committee Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

The Teegan and behind the Naomh Crónán sail back to the Claddagh after the Blessing of Galway Bay Photo: Joe O'ShaughnessyThe Teegan and behind the Naomh Crónán sail back to the Claddagh after the Blessing of Galway Bay Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Published in Galway Harbour
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On Saturday, August 26th, Galway Girl Cruises will set sail from Galway Docks, inviting passengers on a cultural journey of discovery, music, and folklore. The tour is operated by 3rd generation seafaring brothers, Tommy and Patrick Connolly, who will be accompanied by a special lineup of musical guests.

The newest boat tour offering on Galway Bay, Galway Girl Cruises, is more than just a sightseeing experience, say the promoters.

It promises passengers an immersive cultural experience, celebrating Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. From traditional music sessions to engaging maritime stories, every moment onboard offers a glimpse into the heart and soul of Galway.

Patrick Connolly, skipper and traditional boatbuilder, says that the tours are not just about a boat trip but about sharing cultural heritage, stories, and music of their ancestors. He adds, "Our family has always been tied to the sea, and we are honoured to share this legacy and love of the ocean with others."

The Galway Bay Cruise offers breathtaking views of famous landmarks such as Gleninagh Castle, Black Head Lighthouse, Martello towers, and the distant Aran Islands, with live commentary. Passengers will be entertained with vibrant storytelling of Galway coast's maritime misadventures and captivated by traditional Irish music and dance performances by the crew and a host of special guests.

The Connolly brothers have crafted an unforgettable 90-minute experience that resonates with the heartbeat of Ireland, beyond just a cruise. Passengers are promised a journey that's both scenic and deeply cultural, from the raw beauty of the Burren to the majestic Aran Islands on the horizon.

Tommy Connolly says, "Travelling through the water brings a sense of venturing into the unknown. The ever-changing light, wind conditions, and potential wildlife sightings make every journey a new adventure. Be it birds, dolphins, or even whales, there's always something wondrous to see and feel."

The Devane Brothers, Patrick and Gerard, who are 5th generation 'sean-nós' (old-style) dancers and musicians from Connemara, will join the crew on Saturday, August 26th.

Passengers are invited to come aboard, soak in the rugged beauty of Galway's coast, and get ready for a rhythmic and soul-stirring Irish musical treat. Join the crew for some good craic on the Galway Girl Cruises launch. Secure your spot now here

Published in Galway Harbour
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On this day half a century ago, solo sailor Commander Bill King was still becalmed on board Galway Blazer II in the final stages of his global circumnavigation.

This was his third – and first successful - attempt to sail around the world, and logs which have been released to mark the golden jubilee record that he had been “becalmed all night” on May 19th/20th,1973.

The barometer readings which he recorded in pencil (see log photo above) show a steady “1000” throughout the day.

“As night falls, the wind begins to slowly pick up,” Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) commodore Johnny Shorten, who has analysed the logs, notes.

The wind backs force two to three from east-north-east to nor-nor-east, and total distance covered on May 20th is ten nautical miles.

King had been determined to complete the solo sail after the ordeal of the second world war when he was the only British Navy officer to be commander of a submarine throughout the entire conflict.

As he wrote afterwards, his world was defined “by the chart table, the periscope and the bridge, hardly daring to sleep, a most disagreeable place, smelling of diesel oil, chlorine and unwashed bodies…”

He had made his first circumnavigation attempt in 1968 as the oldest participant in The Sunday Times Golden Globe race, but capsized and was dismasted 500 miles west of Capetown, South Africa.

He made a second unsuccessful attempt in 1969. A further attempt in 1970 in the junk-rigged Galway Blazer II was interrupted by illness and hull damage, which forced him ashore in Australia.

He resumed his journey in December 1971, but a large sea creature, either a whale or shark, damaged his boat about 400 miles southwest of Freemantle. After three days carrying out emergency repairs at sea, which have been praised as a lesson in sea survival, he returned to Freemantle, "barely able to limp into port".

After he completed his circumnavigation in 1973, he was awarded the Cruising Club of America Blue Water Medal two years later.

The Golden Jubilee of Galway Blazer II's epic voyage will be marked in Galway on May 23rd, 2023, and also by the International Junk Rig Association.

Published in Solo Sailing

The 70th anniversary of “Tóstal na Gaillimhe”, a traditional currach regatta, is to be celebrated off Salthill in Galway Bay in early May.

After a break of ten years, the event planned for May 6th and 7th has been billed as a “celebration of Galway’s maritime life and seafaring customs” will be held off Ladies Beach along Salthill promenade.

It is being hosted by the Galway Hooker Sailing Club, in partnership with the Salthill village business community, Blackrock Cottage restaurant, the Gráinne Mhaol Rowing Club, and Galway City Council.

The event was initiated in the early 1950s, and “Tóstal na Gaillimhe” of 1953 hosted by Bord Fáilte, marked the beginning of the All-Ireland Currach Racing Championships. After it lapsed in 1959, it was revived again in 2011, and new trophies were presented in 2012.

Tóstal na Gaillimhe

This year’s two-day gathering involve male, female, and junior traditional currach racing rowers alongside sliding seat rowers.

The currachaí will be provided by Cóiste Lár na gCurrachaí for the duration of the festival.

Ciaran Oliver of the Galway Hooker Sailing Club said, “we are thrilled to bring back the tradition of An Tóstal to Salthill in celebration of its 70th anniversary” and promised an “exciting two-day event”.

The Gráinne Mhaol Rowing Club will be hosting ‘”try rowing” sessions, and the Galway Hooker Sailing Club will be hosting ‘”try sailing” sessions for those curious about getting started.

“ Galway Bay promises a spectacle of red sails as the iconic Galway Hooker fleet - along with other local sailing clubs - take to the water,” the organisers state.

The event is free, and there will be live music, work by local artists, sandcastle-building contests, and food and drink on the promenade during the event.

The Village Salthill business group is “delighted to be involved”, its spokesman Pete Kelly said.

Kelly noted there were “ample attractions to complement the ‘on water’ spectacle, with the Funpark, Leisureland Aquarium, Seapoint, and the Galway City Council Family Funday”.

Published in Galway Hookers
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When you sail west past Mizen Head in the deep south, or Malin Head in the far north, you know you’re getting into the real Atlantic territory, where they do things differently afloat and ashore. For although the hundreds of boats competing in July 22’s RORC Fastnet Race from Cowes in 2023 will assume that they’ve savoured something of this specially challenging maritime frontier as they round the rock, it is those that have already competed in the National YC’s biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race next year on June 7th who’ll know that the Fastnet Rock is just the rather spectacular gatepost for even more impressive sailing waters further west.

Thus it’s not until you’re sailing in and among and through and around the Blasket Islands – as competitors were doing in last May’s inaugural staging of Kinsale YC’s Inishtearaght Race, won in style by Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt in the Sun Fast 3300 Cinnamon Girl of the host club – that you become fully aware that this is somewhere utterly different about the Atlantic seaboard, and the further north you go, the more impressive it can become.

Approaching the turn. For the hundreds of competitors in the RORC Fastnet Race, the Fastnet Rock is as far west as they get in approaching Europe’s real Atlantic frontier…….Photo: RORCApproaching the turn. For the hundreds of competitors in the RORC Fastnet Race, the Fastnet Rock is as far west as they get in approaching Europe’s real Atlantic frontier…….Photo: RORC

…..but for Cian McCarthy’s Cinnamon Girl (KYC), winner of the first Kinsale YC Inishtearaght Race in 2022, the Fastnet was just one of the staging posts in a spectacular course. Photo: Robert Bateman…..but for Cian McCarthy’s Cinnamon Girl (KYC), winner of the first Kinsale YC Inishtearaght Race in 2022, the Fastnet was just one of the staging posts in a spectacular course. Photo: Robert Bateman

SHELTERED SCENIC SAILING WATERS

Yet between the great rugged outcrops, there are extensive areas of scenic sheltered sailing water providing quality sailing without extreme seafaring conditions. So inevitably, as Ireland’s prosperity has spread slowly westward, recreational sailing in more modern craft has developed to thrive side-by-side with the long-established racing of the local lines in traditional boats.

This has resulted in sailing clubs with a genuine local emphasis becoming healthily established, as opposed to the familiar “summer visitor sailing club”. One rough and ready way of identifying the summer visitor club is that it’s the one which holds its AGM during ’Twixtmas, that limbo time between Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Day, when members will have retreated from the sheer weight of endless festivities at the main home base, and are just in the mood for a spot of business-like matters on the morning of New Year’s Eve in their holiday club.

The West’s Awake. Flying Fifteens in strength at Carraroe in Connemara Photo: Maria Ui BhrianThe West’s Awake. Flying Fifteens in strength at Carraroe in Connemara Photo: Maria Ui Bhrian

The genuinely local club, on the other hand, can hold its AGM about ten days before Christmas like clubs elsewhere, or even in the more anciently traditional April period. Either way, there’s no doubting the spread of clubs in new areas, with a good example being the formerly very workaday and TradBoat-minded Carraroe in Connemara. There, they now have a veritable rash of Flying Fifteens racing regularly to such good effect that Connemara’s Niall O’Brien and Ronan O’Brien won the FF Southerns at Dunmore East in August, they logged third in the Nationals at Dublin Bay in September, and then - slightly nearer home - they won the FFs in the 2022 Freshwater OD Keelboat Regatta in October with Lough Derg YC.

LONG DISTANCES MEAN LOCAL ISOLATION

Nevertheless, distances along the west coast are so great – and the passages between the popular sailing areas sometimes so oceanically challenging – that each little focal point of sailing can easily find itself tending to function in isolation, such that its annual programme can be arranged without any thought of interacting with the programmes of other clubs further along the coast.

This is certainly the case with inshore keelboat classes, and even with trailerable dinghy classes. But the cruiser-racer brigade inevitably feel that they should be co-ordinating with similar groups nearby, and while the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association sees its remit as extending from Rathlin O’Beirne in Donegal south all the way to the Blasket Islands, within that area the Northwest Group extending from Sligo through Mullaghmore to Killybegs and maybe even Teelin has its own sense of cohesion. Clew Bay meanwhile is so extensive with its many private anchorages in addition to the main base with Mayo SC at Rosmoney that it’s a world of its own, while Galway Bay to the south is the same, only more so.

Summer evening racing at Mullaghmore in County Sligo. Photo: Discover IrelandSummer evening racing at Mullaghmore in County Sligo. Photo: Discover Ireland

Further south, the Shannon Estuary is a universe, while areas south of the Blaskets may look to the glamour sailing area of West Cork as soon and as readily as they’d think to look north.

All this is in addition to the time-honoured local neighbourhood regattas, with their additional traditional boat and coastal rowing input, which are mostly in August – and mostly in the first weekend of August at that – though a more modern peak, built up during the past 40 years, is reached with the tide-dictated Cruinniu na mBad at Kinvara, which in 2023 is 11th to 13th August.

Yet if it’s the 24 carat pure gold Galway Bay tradboat experience that you seek, then the only immutable fixture is the 16th July, Mac Dara’s Day at the island of the saint’s name seaward of Roundstone. This is the very essence of traditional sail in the west and its interaction with just about every spiritual, maritime and cultural aspect of Connemara. And though July 16th 2023 happens to be a Sunday, that’s purely coincidental – Mac Dara’s Day is marked with the same fervour regardless of the day of the week.

A sense of anticipation – and a beautifully-setting mainsail….Having stowed her staysail, this handsome Galway Hooker is approaching the pier at Kinvara at the head of Galway Bay as the annual Cruinniu na mBad gets under way. Photo CnBA sense of anticipation – and a beautifully-setting mainsail….Having stowed her staysail, this handsome Galway Hooker is approaching the pier at Kinvara at the head of Galway Bay as the annual Cruinniu na mBad gets under way. Photo CnB

However, not all dates in western sailing are set in stone in the same sacred way - theoretically there’s, initially, an element of fixture choice for newer events. So when we talk of the west sailing to its own wild tunes and rhythms regardless of other main sailing centres, sometimes the reality seems to be that we’re looking at is conflicting tunes and competitive rhythms clashing both nationally and locally on a majestic seaboard where the shared hymn sheet is only in its infancy.

WIORA CHAMPS AT ARAN ISLANDS TO CLASH WITH VOLVO DUN LAOGHAIRE REGATTA

Back in 2017, a magic new location was added to Ireland’s pattern of regattas venues when Kilronan in the Aran Islands was temporarily fitted with marina pontoons, and from July 5th to 8th, it brilliantly hosted the 43-strong fleet in the 2017 WIORA Championship.

With such a unique venue, it would have been reasonable to expect easily-trailered cruiser-racers from other areas – notably the U25 J/24s – to want to attend. But owing to a combination of an already busy multi-event programme afloat and ashore on the islands, together with a crowded western sailing programme, these seemed the only dates available.

Unfortunately, they clashed exactly with the big one on the East Coast, the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, thereby eliminating any significant element of national-level sport. But now, six years later and with a pandemic survived, the Aran Islands are again tops of the WIORA agenda for 2023, with Galway Bay SC the hosts.

The late Jack Roy, President of Irish Sailing, with Organising Chairman Cormac Mac Donncha at the morning of the opening day of WIORA Championship 2017 at Kilronan in the Aran Islands. That same evening, Jack Roy attended the Opening Ceremony for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 in Dun Laoghaire Town Hall.The late Jack Roy, President of Irish Sailing, with Organising Chairman Cormac Mac Donncha at the morning of the opening day of WIORA Championship 2017 at Kilronan in the Aran Islands. That same evening, Jack Roy attended the Opening Ceremony for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 in Dun Laoghaire Town Hall.

Back in 2017 it was Cormac Mac Donnacha of Gaway who did much of the heavy lifting in organising this pioneering effort at Kilronan, to such an all-involving extent that he says if he undertook it again for 2023, he would return home to his house in Moycullen to find the locks had been changed. And in any case, he’s already devoting much energy to organising another one of his noted GBSC Cruises-in-Company to Brittany for 2024.

But meanwhile GBSC under Commodore Johnny Shorten have a busy team in full action. There’ll be convenient pontoons back in place in Kilronan comfortably in time for July, and already the entry list has pushed through the 50 mark, so good participation is ensured to challenge the host club’s Liam Burke for the overall title (won in 2022 in Kilrush) with his Farr 31 Tribal.

Liam Burke’s Farr 31 Tribal (GBSC) was winner of WIORA 2022 at Kilrush. Photo: Robert BatemanLiam Burke’s Farr 31 Tribal (GBSC) was winner of WIORA 2022 at Kilrush. Photo: Robert Bateman

Yet believe it or not, the dates are Wednesday 5th to Saturday 8th July 2023. On the other side of Ireland, the dates for VDLR 2023 in Dublin Bay – set as long ago as anyone can remember - are Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th July. The diary clash is total.

PARTICULARLY TOUGH ON YOUNG J/24 CREWS

It’s doubly hard for the young (and sometimes not so young) teams racing the J/24s. One of their strongest performers is Headcase with her strong Mayo SC western connections, while in the Shannon Estuary, the McCormack clan from Foynes would enjoy taking on the east and south coast’s J/24 power in the neutral waters around the Aran Islands, but may find a clash with other events.

Back in 2017, the newly-elected sailing President, Jack Roy demonstrated his energy and enthusiasm by being personally present for the morning’s racing at opening day in WIORA, and then he turned up that evening on the other side of Ireland, on stage at the Opening Ceremony in Dun Laoghaire Town Hall for VDLR 2017. It was utterly remarkable. But in a maritime nation with a well-organised national sailing programme, surely it is something which surely should have happened only the once?

Yet perhaps with those 50-and-counting expressions of serious interest already in, the organisers reckon they’re going to have as big a fleet as they can cope with in Kilronan with their catchment area largely limited to the western seaboard. And at least they’re making it highly likely that the WIORA Champion 2023 will be from the west…

Published in W M Nixon
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