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Aran Islands Prepare for Celebration of Sailing at WIORA Championships

28th June 2023

Galway Bay and the Aran Islands will mark a celebration of sailing when they host the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Championships (WIORA) from July 5th to 8th.

Arainn, as in the three islands, proved to be such an attractive location for the WIORA championships in 2017 that the event is returning this year.

The wide expanse of water between the bay and the islands is suited to all classes of racing, while there is also safe anchorage and onshore facilities.

The event will be hosted by Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC), with the support of Arainn businesses, the community, and Club Seoltóireacht Árann.

Established in 1972, WIORA involves an association of sailing clubs along the western seaboard from Sligo to Kerry, including the Shannon.

The championships rotate between these clubs each year, and at least 40 boats have entered to date this year.

Up to 200 crew and as many more supporters are expected to arrive on the largest Aran island of Inis Mór for the five-day event, hailing from Fenit, Foynes, Kilrush, Galway, Westport and Sligo.

After the success of WIORA 2017, many sailors returned afterwards with their families to holiday on the islands, according to the event organisers.

“They expressed the wish that GBSC would recreate the Aran WIORA experience this year and reboot the local sailing initiative,” WIORA 2023 public relations officer Erin Killeen says.

This year, there will be four days of racing off the northern shores of the islands. There will also be a round islands race for the bigger boats, which is described as being most spectacular when viewed from Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr because of the course's proximity to these islands.

“Sailboats cruising the western seaboard have always sheltered in Aran, but now it is becoming a sailing destination due to the islands' scenery, culture and hospitality,” Killeen notes.

“The Lambs regatta, which arose out of WIORA 2017, is now an annual cruise of about 40 boats to Connemara and Aran,” she says.

“The currach and visiting Galway Hookers are synonymous with Arainn, but it also had its own sailboat tradition and once even had a boatyard at Frenchman’s beach,” Killeen says.

Sailing and other water-based activities will soon be boosted by installing a pontoon at Cill Rónáin harbour on Inis Mór, as “this will allow people to board and get ashore 24/7 safely, no matter time or tide”, she says.

“West of Ireland sailors have competed at the highest level of international sailing with the late Commander Bill King of Oranmore in the first Round the World Whitbread Race in the ’60s and, most recently, Pat Lawless of Kerry in the same race, now called the Golden Globe Race,” she says.

“ It is hoped that the WIORA event will inspire future generations of young sailors to continue this form of participation,” Killeen says.

Published in WIORA, Galway Harbour Team

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West Coast of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA)

The West Coast of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) objective is to promote an annual programme of yacht racing for the West Coast of Ireland.

WIORA aims to encourage and promote participation in and knowledge of racing and seamanship. It does this by developing yacht racing between yacht clubs on the west coast and hosting an annual regatta known as the West Coast Championships. The championships are rotated between west coast clubs. 

WIORA was formed in 1976. WIORA is affiliated with the Irish Cruiser Racing Association.

The association burgee is a pennant with a background of St. Patrick's Blue and overlaid with an emblem of St. Brendan's Cross, which is of saffron colour. 

WIORA is open to members of yachts clubs located on the west coast of Ireland, from Mizen Head to Malin Head and the waters of Lough Derg and Lough Ree, and sailors outside thee areas who may wish to participate at the WIORA annual regatta.

The membership association has a Commodore and committee.

Annual membership is €10.

WIORA Championships

WIORA 2024 will be held at Foynes Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary from June 12th-15th 2024

WIORA Championships

WIORA 2022 will run over three days, from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th June at the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland on the Shannon Estuary

WIORA 2023 will be held at Kilronan on the Aran Islands

WIORA 2024 will be held at Foynes Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary

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