As Afloat.ie reported earlier, this year was more special than usual as it was Edwin Hunter’s (Race Officer), 50th Anniversary running the racing. The race is reputed to be the longest inland dinghy sailing race in the world and originated from the need of Sailors to transport their boats from Lough Ree Yacht Club to their sister Club, Lough Derg YC, so boats could compete in both annual regattas. Even with the advent of road transport, the race sustained and has grown from strength to strength.
A record fleet turned out for the occasion which started from Lough Ree YC. 36 SOD’s departed the Club and while initially racing north up Lough Ree, they then descended south to the town of Athlone where the race finished its first leg just above the Town bridges. This was aided by a fresh north westerly breeze. The SOD’s & their extensive entourage locked through at Athlone and started their 2nd harrowing leg to Clonmacnoise, some of which had the wind on their nose, making for interesting navigation for all boat users as they weaved their way back and forth the river!
After the sailors had their traditional restorative in Kileen’s pub in Shannon Bridge, the fleet took off once more for their final destination of the day, Banagher. Here the party really started, with nearly 150 people sitting down on the quay wall for a BBQ. A Presentation was made to Ed in recognition of his 5 decades of hard work!
With no mercy or consideration for the revelry of the previous evening, racing again commenced at 10:30 and the fleet continued weaving their way downstream to Victoria Lock, Meelick and through the many other craft using the waterway. Here, fine refreshments were provided for the tired sailors, before they headed on their merry and final leg of the race, to Portumna.
Overall first place went to David Dickson (SOD 73), Second Andrew Mannion (SOD 97) & Third, Frank Browne (SOD 86).