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Cronin Family Crew From Kilrush Win Galway Bay SC’s Lambs Week Trophy

3rd August 2022
Go to the islands for the sun – bright morning for the GBSC Lambs Week boats at Kilronan while the clouds hang out over nearby Ireland
Go to the islands for the sun – bright morning for the GBSC Lambs Week boats at Kilronan while the clouds hang out over nearby Ireland

It can sometimes take quite a bit of tough windward slugging to get to the islands out in the Atlantic off the Connacht coast. But those boats that do are usually well rewarded, as rain-bearing clouds from the west will often pass over the lower-elevation islands without discharging a drop of rain. Yet when they come up against the steep and spectacular mainland peaks of Connemara such as the Twelve Bens, the in-cloud moisture content builds even further, and the taps are turned on big time.

Thus it’s said that Leenane at the head of Killary Fjord has at least twice the rainfall of Inshbofin off the north Connemara coast. And the Aran Islands across the mouth of Galway Bay can be dry with flickers of sunshine while the City of the Tribes at the head of the bay is getting hosed.

Unpromising-looking conditions as the fleet manoeuvre before starting the passage out to the islands, with rain gathering itself over The BurrenUnpromising-looking conditions as the fleet manoeuvre before starting the passage out to the islands, with rain gathering itself over The Burren

Certainly this August’s notably damp Bank Holiday Weekend put all these theories to the test. For although rainfall was general at times, the substantial fleet in Galway Bay SC’s annual Lamb’s Week jaunt out to Aran, with a pursuit rally round the islands once they’d got to Kilronan on Inishmor, not only experienced drier weather in the islands, but on their return passage they brought the sunshine with them right into the marina at Galway Docks as it emerged from that day’s precipitation quota.

With entries drawn in from as far as Clew Bay to the north and the Shannon Estuary to the south, ace handicapper Fergal Lyons of GBSC had his work cut out setting the complete range of start times aimed at bringing everyone to the finish at once. He works from times recorded going out to Kilronan from the first night stop of Rossaveal, and in 2021 he was right on the money with them all completing the islands circuit in a tight bunch with just 30 seconds between first and second.

If Atlantic sailing is your thing, then the three Aran Islands offer some interesting options. In 2021, the Lambs went round Inishmor and Inishmean. This year, the course was Inishmean and InisheerIf Atlantic sailing is your thing, then the three Aran Islands offer some interesting options. In 2021, the Lambs went round Inishmor and Inishmean. This year, the course was Inishmean and Inisheer

But last year, in more settled weather, the course was round Inishmor and Inshmean, whereas this year they’d a more inshore route round Inishmean and Inisheer, and there were boats involved which hadn’t arrived via Rossaveal. But it still provided good sport and close times generally in a brisk westerly.
The first boat got away at 12 noon, with other larger and faster craft starting up to 40 minutes later. The fleet headed south through Gregory Sound, encountering challenging seas and very poor visibility. This didn't take away from the racing with several boats engaging in close-proximity sailing as they approached the open ocean. Two options emerged at the back of the Islands, with some boats hugging the jagged coastline while others went further out to sea. The outer route proved the better choice, with steadier winds and better angles.

As the fleet approached Finis Rock at the Southeast end of Inisheer, spinnakers were flying and the skies brightened briefly. A gybe around the mark consolidated the fleet, and they embarked on a close-hauled route along the Northern coasts of Inisheer and Inismean. As they approached Straw Rock on Inishmor, the pursuit handicap format showed its successful mysteries as the main fleet caught up on the smaller boats that had a significant head start.

Winner by three minutes in 2022, second by 30 seconds in 2021 – Jackie Cronin (RWIYC, Kilrush) was entirely family crewed on his X332Winner by three minutes in 2022, second by 30 seconds in 2021 – Jackie Cronin (RWIYC, Kilrush) was entirely family crewed on his X332

In the end last year’s runner-up, Jackie Cronin (RWIYC) on Jimmy Bum, an X332 from Kilrush crewed by Caoimhe, Niamh, Jack and Donagh Cronin, had stormed his way up through the fleet and finished 3 minutes ahead at the Killeany Buoy. The next five boats finished within three minutes of each other. Anton Morrin on Viking Lass, a vintage Ron Holland-designs little Eygthene 24 from Galway Bay SC, was unlucky not to maintain the lead to the end, having started first and sailed very well. But they managed to hold on for a very respectable second place. John Gillivan in Popje, a Sigma 33 from Mayo SC in Clew Bay, came across the line third, bringing honour and glory to Westport.

The event made for a 24-minute radio documentary. John Mulligan of Galway Bay FM interviews the Galway Harbour Master, Captain Brian Sheridan The fleet went on in due course to round out the Cruise-in-Company in Galway Docks, bringing that cheering evening sunshine with them, and coming in to a welcome from Galway Bay FM’s John Mulligan who put together a 24-minute radio documentary about it all, well boosted by Q&A sessions with such folk as Galway Harbour Master Brian Sheridan and GBSC Commodore Johnny Shorten, who both made full use of the opportunity to promote sailing and the need for improved facilities at all the main centres around Galway Bay.The event made for a 24-minute radio documentary. John Mulligan of Galway Bay FM interviews the Galway Harbour Master, Captain Brian Sheridan 

The fleet went on in due course to round out the Cruise-in-Company in Galway Docks, bringing that cheering evening sunshine with them, and coming in to a welcome from Galway Bay FM’s John Mulligan who put together a 24-minute radio documentary about it all,  well boosted by Q&A sessions with such folk as Galway Harbour Master Brian Sheridan and GBSC Commodore Johnny Shorten, who both made full use of the opportunity to promote sailing and the need for improved facilities at all the main centres around Galway Bay.

 Promoting the recreational sailors’ point of view - GBSC Commodore Johnny Shorten (right) is interviewed by John Mulligan of Galway Bay FM Promoting the recreational sailors’ point of view - GBSC Commodore Johnny Shorten (right) is interviewed by John Mulligan of Galway Bay FM

Published in Lambs Week
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Lambs Week Regatta on Galway Bay

With a theme of accessibility, Lambs Week was devised to celebrate the unique sailing grounds of the West of Ireland. 

It comprises five days of sailing around Galway Bay and the Aran Islands.

Big boats, small boats, fast boats and slow boats are all welcome.

The fleet, which totalled 46 for the first edition in 2021, takes in three beautiful harbours of Ros aMhil, Cil Ronain and Cloch naRon, each keen to offer a warm welcome to the competing sailors. 

Organisers Galway Bay Sailing Club match similarly rated boats to see who can get the best out of the conditions for a 'Sail in Company'.  A Pursuit Challenge around the islands for both competitive and non-competitive boats is also held.

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