The first annual championship ever to be staged in the Aran Islands in the forty year history of the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association gets under way tomorrow at Cill Ronan on Inish Mor. There’s a busy programme afloat and ashore from Wednesday 5th to Saturday 8th July, and the harbour will be well filled as the fleet gathering will also see twenty traditional Galway hookers venturing across to the islands from their many harbours along the Connemara coast, as well as Kinvara and the Claddagh in Galway.
Last year’s WIORA Championship at Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary was won by the Galway Bay SC GK34+ Ibaraki (ex-Joggernaut) skippered by John Collins, with second going to clubmate Liam Burke’s Corby 25 Trial, while third was taken by Ray McGibney’s Dehler Optima 101 Disaray from Foynes YC.
The unique islands venue has proven a strong attraction, and already 33 contenders are berthed at new pontoons in Aran, while a further 12 are expected by tomorrow, with some trailed boats being launched at nearby Rossaveal on the mainland today (Tuesday).
So much about the combined fleet venture and the unusual venue is completely new that WIORA Championship Organiser Cormac Mac Donncha is keeping his fingers crossed that all will run smoothly. But with longtime WIORA Race Officer Alan Crosbie of Cork on station to provide his usual efficient race organisation, the omens are good.