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Displaying items by tag: Shannon Estuary

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

The ESB and the Shannon Airport Group have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore the development of a “hydrogen lighthouse” project in the environment surrounding the airport’s site, on the Shannon Estuary.

The project aims to explore the development of a sustainable green hydrogen plant at Shannon to “demonstrate the use of hydrogen in aviation, heavy goods transport and industry, and as a lighthouse model for the net zero integrated energy system of the future”, the partners say.

Published in Shannon Estuary
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The 25ft gaff cutter Sally O'Keeffe, built by a community group at Querrin on the Loop Head Peninsula under the guidance of master shipwright Steve Morris of Kilrush, to a design by Myles Stapleton of Malahide as a miniature synthesis of traditional Shannon Estuary Hookers, is ten years old this year.

Yet there ls something about the spirit of the way in which she was created, to be beneficially used by all ages, which gives her an eternal youthfulness with traditional appeal. If not unique, this impression is certainly especially strong with the Sally.

A good picture saves a thousand words, and this image - captured by Steve Morris in the current RWIYC October Series at Kilrush - says everything.

Published in Shannon Estuary

When it came to painting the new St Ayles skiff Ealu built by Seol Sionnas (the owners of the much-admired traditional cutter Sally O’Keeffe) under the direction of Steve Morris in Kilrush Boatyard, it was “No Contest” as regards décor choice. For County Clare the Banner County shares the same distinctive blue and bright yellow colours with beleaguered Ukraine.

And as it happens, there are three Ukrainian girls staying in Kilrush who were keen to help with the painting job. The result is one very smart-looking craft whose attractive handling characteristics and performance potential eloquently explain why the numbers of this special Iain Oughtred design have reached more than 400 boats worldwide.

The new St Ayles skiff Ealu makes the traditional Kilrush maiden voyage of a sunwise circuit of the Holy Island of Scattery in the Shannon Estuary, rowing at “a comfortable four knots”. Photo: Trea HeapsThe new St Ayles skiff Ealu makes the traditional Kilrush maiden voyage of a sunwise circuit of the Holy Island of Scattery in the Shannon Estuary, rowing at “a comfortable four knots”. Photo: Trea Heaps

Ealu recently had the traditional Kilrush maiden voyage of a sunwise circuit of Scattery Island, and demonstrated that she can comfortably maintain a cruising rowing speed of four knots, so now “some fairly serious expeditions” are being planned with the able Sally O’Keeffe as support vessel.

The ultimate multi-tasker – Kilrush master shipwright James Madigan worked on the restoration of the Ilen and sailed on her, he is currently involved in the restoration of the Dublin Bay 21 Class, and he took time out to work in building Ealu, and is seen here rowing on the bow oar. Photo: Trea HeapsThe ultimate multi-tasker – Kilrush master shipwright James Madigan worked on the restoration of the Ilen and sailed on her, he is currently involved in the restoration of the Dublin Bay 21 Class, and he took time out to work in building Ealu, and is seen here rowing on the bow oar. Photo: Trea Heaps

Published in Coastal Rowing

Last weekend, the J24 National Championships took place at Foynes Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary. 18 boats took part in the event drawn from all over the country.

Thursday evening was very busy with boats being launched and some final adjustments being made. Registration and Weigh-in also took place that evening, with a few having to run a marathon and have saunas to make the final cut, but perseverance prevailed, and everybody was at their target weight of 400 kgs in time for the first race on Friday morning!!

Foynes Yacht Club's U25 J24 team were very busy making and selling sandwiches every morning before racing, with the proceeds going towards the upkeep of their J24 Jasper.

Friday was an extremely tricky day on the water for the J24sFriday was an extremely tricky day on the water for the J24s

At the outset, Commodore John Paul Buckley welcomed everyone to Foynes Yacht Club and wished fair and safe sailing to all competitors and hoped that it would be an enjoyable event both on and off the water. Mark Usher, President of the J24 Association, said a few words on behalf of the J24 Association, and Derek Bothwell, Race Officer, gave the briefing.

Race Officer Derek Bothwell from HowthRace Officer Derek Bothwell from Howth

Eight races were held over the weekend, three races on Friday, four races on Saturday and one on Sunday. Friday was an extremely tricky day on the water. The wind was light and shifty, making it difficult for OOD Derek Bothwell and his Mark Layers to set courses. However, they did prevail and managed to run three races. Saturday and Sunday brought a much steadier breeze.

Sam Byrne and the Howth Headcase crew with the J/24 National Championship Trophy at Foynes Yacht ClubSam Byrne and the Howth Headcase crew with the J/24 National Championship Trophy at Foynes Yacht Club

Headcase (Howth Yacht Club) were the overall winners of the J24 National Championships 2022.

It has been a great year for Headcase so far this year, winning the UK J24 Nationals and the Kiel Regatta in Germany. In their prizegiving speech, Sam Byrne stated that they loved coming to Foynes Yacht Club, and that the standard of racing was one of the best. He complimented the Race Management, the onshore support, and the great hospitality.

Taking second place were the Kerry boys, Janx Spirit from Tralee Bay Sailing Club, and third place went to El Rico, Lough Erne Yacht Club, all the way from Enniskillen.

Silver fleet winners Kinsalor (Kinsale Yacht Club) won the U25 categorySilver fleet winners Kinsalor (Kinsale Yacht Club) won the U25 category

Kinsalor (Kinsale Yacht Club) won the U25 category and took first in the Silver Fleet. Foynes Yacht Club's U25 Jasper came second in the U25 category.

J24 2022 Irish Championships results are below

Published in J24
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Sally O'Keeffe, the 25ft re-interpretation of the Shannon Estuary's traditional sail-driven cargo-carrying cutters which could usefully find their way into the smallest ports along both sides of the majestic waterway, is this year celebrating ten years of quietly useful service afloat.

It takes an effort to accept this time span, for her very complete and jaunty appearance still seems as fresh as a daisy. Yet it's a decade and more since naval architect Myles Stapleton of Malahide put his own characterful and stylish interpretation on the brief from the Querrin Community Group on the Loop Head Peninsula. They hoped to re-capture the spirit of a little ship which had been key to their area's well-being, and with Steve Morris of Kilrush to guide the building project in a farm
shed at Queerin, the result exceeded all expectations.

A well-balanced hull shape. Regardless of the sail trim, Sally O'Keeffe remains light on the tiller. Photo: Con EganA well-balanced hull shape. Regardless of the sail trim, Sally O'Keeffe remains light on the tiller. Photo: Con Egan

As a "Boat of the People", Sally O'Keeffe has become a familiar sight at many Shannonside ports large and small, and she has been much-admired when taking part in the Wooden Boat Festival at Baltimore, and the Cruinnui na mBad at Kinvara in Galway Bay. These photos taken by Con Egan while on mark-boat duty at the recent WIORA Championship at Kilrush tell us why people like sailing the Sally so much. There are some gaff cutters which hang heavy on their helm when there's a bite to the breeze. But in these images, you'll note that despite the varied conditions and the different rig set-ups, Sally's tiller is sweetly fore-and-aft as evidence of her well-balanced hull.

Smokin' along....Sally cutting a dash with a bone in her teeth near a couple of contenders in the WIORA Championship at Kilrush. Photo: Con EganSmokin' along....Sally cutting a dash with a bone in her teeth near a couple of contenders in the WIORA Championship at Kilrush. Photo: Con Egan

Published in Shannon Estuary

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
Tagged under

The Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland at Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary opened its sailing season with a ‘Splash & Sail’ day of celebration to launch the dinghy sailing fleet and club kayaks.

The event was attended by many members, particularly the junior section eager to try out the brand new fleet of Topper Topaz training dinghies.

Club Treasurer, Monica Roche, welcomed everyone to the occasion and spoke briefly about plans for the coming season.

The event was attended by Clare County Councillors, Gabriel Keating and Ian Lynch, who spoke about his delight to see the legacy of past sailors being continued in Kilrush and complimented the club and especially the junior sailors and wished them well in the coming season.

Fr. Pat Larkin officiated over the Blessing of the Boats with a short service which was also attended by the Kilrush RNLI and he walked through the dinghy park and the marina to bless all the boats.

The club are very grateful for the Government Sports Capital Grant which assisted the club immensely by providing grant funding for six new topaz training dinghies and a Whaly boat, and Clare County Council who assisted with a grant for six new kayaks.

Published in Shannon Estuary

Estuary operator, Shannon Ferries have been forced to cancel sailings due to a stranded passenger ferry operating from Tarbert to Killimer.

An incident at Tarbert Pier saw the ferry, Shannon Dolphin become stuck at low tide on Sunday afternoon (3 April).

According to individuals at the scene, “The tide went out as the ferry was pulling in and it had to let a coach off” at which point the boat stuck at the Pier.

This resulted in lengthy delays for some ferry passengers of up to four hours and the cancellation of other services.

Clare passengers among the waiting crowds were among those impacted with some turning their cars around and travelling by road instead.

The Clare Echo reports more including a statement from the ferry operator.

Published in Ferry

There was great excitement at Foynes Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary for the return of their SRL Frostbite Open Dinghy Series, after a two-year hiatus writes FYC Dinghy Class Captain, Mary McCormack

Six races were held over four weekends. Conditions were somewhat perfect throughout apart from the second weekend where racing was abandoned due to a lack of wind.

Dylan Reidy led the Series through with picture-perfect results. Dylan was challenged by another local laser sailor Christopher McDaid and Killaloe’s RS400 with Govan Berridge and David Coleman on board, and his younger brother Killian and Conor Daly on their Topaz Omega. Other boats battled further down the fleet.

Class 2 was led by Kate O’Regan followed closely by Ivan Joyce in his Skipper 14, which unfortunately was demasted during week 3, as well as her younger brother Brendan and another local sailor Abbie Fitzgerald.

The month brought fantastic racing as well as fantastic fun and club spirit which was sorely missed over the two-year break due to covid.

The Series could not have taken place without Sponsors SRL Refrigeration Ltd, OODs Donal McCormack and Raymond McGibney, the club members, volunteers, both on the water and onshore, as well as the competitors, especially travelling boats.

Results

Class 1
Dylan Reidy - FYC - Laser
Govan Berridge & David Coleman - KSC - RS400
Killian Reidy & Conor Daly - FYC - Topaz Omega

Class 2
Kate O’Regan - FYC - Topaz
Ivan Joyce - FYC - Skipper 14
Brendan O’Regan - FYC - Oppie

Published in Shannon Estuary
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Shannon Foynes Port Information

Shannon Foynes Port (SFPC) are investing in an unprecedented expansion at its general cargo terminal, Foynes, adding over two-thirds the size of its existing area. In the latest phase of a €64 million investment programme, SFPC is investing over €20 million in enabling works alone to convert 83 acres on the east side of the existing port into a landbank for marine-related industry, port-centric logistics and associated infrastructure. The project, which will be developed on a phased basis over the next five years, will require the biggest infrastructure works programme ever undertaken at the port, with the entire 83 acre landbank having to be raised by 4.4 metres. The programme will also require the provision of new internal roads and multiple bridge access as well as roundabout access.

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