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Ibaraki won last weekend’s West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) regatta off the Aran islands.

The Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) yacht helmed by John Collins in the class 1 Echo fleet also took the Clifford Cup.

GBSC’s Scorpio, helmed by Mark Wilson, won the Class 2 Echo fleet overall and was awarded the Charlie McGibney Cup.

In spite of inclement weather, the regatta was a “fantastic success”, according to press officer Erin Killeen.

Three races were held on July 5th, and a coastal race was held on July 7th – the same weekend as the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

Killeen says that a great effort was made to get pontoons in situ for WIORA 2023 on Inis Mór, the largest Aran island.

Galway Bay Sailing Club under 25's team sailing on 'Tribal' and Sligo Yacht Club under 25's team sailing on their boat 'Lady J' at the WIORA 2023 competitionGalway Bay Sailing Club under 25's team sailing on 'Tribal' and Sligo Yacht Club under 25's team sailing on their boat 'Lady J' at the WIORA 2023 competition

“The pontoons provided sheltered berthage for the crews and the visiting boats in Cill Rónain harbour, especially with the severe weather conditions, which unfortunately resulted in two days of racing being cancelled for safety reasons,” she said.

Boats sailed in rough weather conditions from all over the west coast to gather for WIORA 2023 in Galway Bay on the Aran Island of Inis MorBoats sailed in rough weather conditions from all over the west coast to gather for WIORA 2023 in Galway Bay on the Aran Island of Inis Mor

WIORA commodore Ray McGibney presented two under-25 teams with a cheque for €1,000 each.

Killeen said that special thanks were due to principal race officer Scorie Walls and her team, who “expertly guided and supervised the various classes of races”.

“The WIORA-GBSC committee would also like to thank islanders Tommy Flaherty and Niall Boland for their deft assistance on Inis Mór,” she said.

Porpoises undeterred by weather during WIORA 2023 off the Aran islandsPorpoises undeterred by weather during WIORA 2023 off the Aran Islands

The event was sponsored by Monaghans and Sons, Lasta Mara Teo, Galway County Council, Port of Galway, Inland and Coastal, Dubarry, Óstan Oileain Arainn, along with support from local businesses and State bodies, including Údarás na Gaeltachta and Fáilte Ireland.

No date is fixed as yet for the next WIORA event, but it has been pencilled in for July 2024 in Foynes, Co Limerick, and Mayo in 2025, she said.

WIORA 2023 Aran Results;

  • Ita McGibney Cup – Overall Winner IRC – Ibaraki (GBSC)
  • Clifford Cup – Overall Winner Class 1 IRC – Ibaraki (GBSC).
  • Charlie McGibney Cup – Overall Class 2 IRC- Scorpio (GBSC).
  • ECHO Class 2 – Yachtzee (FYC)
  • J/24 – Yachtzee (FYC)
  • White sails Class 5 – Disaray (FYC)
  • White sails Class 6 – Poitin (FYC)
  • X Cup - ELIXIR (Mayo SC)
  • Aki Cup – IRC Coastal – Hijinks (GBSC)
  • BJ Marine Trophy – Beneteau – Movita (Mayo SC)
  • White sails Overall – Poitin (FYC)
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Weather conditions forced the cancellation of racing yesterday (Thursday, July 6) at the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Championships (WIORA).

However, three races were run for some 40 competing boats during the opening day on Wednesday.

Racing may resume today, depending on the principal race officer, but conditions are looking more uncertain for Saturday.

The Aran Islands last hosted the WIORA championships with Galway Bay Sailing Club in 2017.

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

Full results for the first day’s racing are below

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A fleet of up to 40 boats will compete in the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Championships (WIORA) between Galway Bay and the Aran Islands over the next four days.

Moderate to fresh westerly winds are forecast for today, when the warning signal for the first of two races on Wednesday will sound at 1400 hours.

The Aran islands last hosted the WIORA championships with Galway Bay Sailing Club in 2017, and up to 200 crew and supporters are expected to arrive on Inis Mór during the event, hailing from Fenit, Foynes, Kilrush, Galway, Westport and Sligo.

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.

The four days of racing off the northern shores of the Aran islands will also include a round island race for the bigger boats – best viewed from Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr.

More details here 

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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.

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There are cruiser-racing enthusiasts in Ireland who dream of living in a world of non-stop activity in 2023, making the most of a dedicated traditional schedule in which they swing into action with the Scottish Series - back on Loch Fyne at the end of May as Nature intended - and then keeping going with a judicious mixture of event campaigning, offshore races and brisk delivery cruises until mid-August. By then, they’ll find themselves in West Cork, recovering from Calves Week, and working out how best to get back to the Irish Sea and the final ISORA races and the ICRA Nats at Howth in the first weekend of September.

WALES SPRINGS FORWARD FOR RC35s

But before Scotland’s time-honoured classic, there are those who now dream of starting even earlier in 2023, as the Welsh IRC Championship is currently listed for Pwllheli from 12th to 14th May, when Cardigan Bay’s fine sailing waters should have their magnificent backdrop of Snowdonia still dusted with snow (what else, after all?), and the action afloat is sharpened by the presence of the highly-focused RC35 Class, who are using the Welsh series as part of their season-long count-up to their Celtic Cup.

Summertime at Pwllheli. This year, its major IRC season begins in mid-May with the Welsh Open ChampionshipSummertime at Pwllheli. This year, its major IRC season begins in mid-May with the Welsh Open Championship

This single-minded approach by the RC35s is something which has to be considered by several major regatta organisers, as the class – for boats in the IRC Rating Range of 1.010-1.040 – is building on its inherent strength to such an extent that it is a self-contained force, like the International 505s were in Ireland many years ago. Thus one of the features of the 2023 programme is a stand-alone RC35 two-day regatta on Belfast Lough, hosted by Royal Ulster YC at Bangor on the weekend of June 24th & 25th.

 The RC35s can be good for your civic status. When the class last raced at Bangor (as here), it was still a town. When they return this June, they’ll find that Bangor has become a city, but crews will not be expected to wear ermine robes when racing. The RC35s can be good for your civic status. When the class last raced at Bangor (as here), it was still a town. When they return this June, they’ll find that Bangor has become a city, but crews will not be expected to wear ermine robes when racing

THRIVING CATCHMENT AREA

With the class’s current healthy catchment area extending from Dun Laoghaire to the southwest all the way to the Upper Firth of Clyde in the northeast, with sailing centres on both sides of the Irish Sea and the North Channel much involved, the top boats from the Irish side are currently John Minnis’s A35 Final Call II from Bangor, and Pat Kelly’s J/109 Storm from Rush. So Bangor is a reasonably central and accessible venue for those who wonder if meeting endless logistical challenges has to be an inherent part of campaigning a cruiser-racer.

The rush from Rush…… a view of Pat Kelly’s J/109 Storm (Rush SC) which is all-too-familiar to RC35 competitors. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’BrienThe rush from Rush…… a view of Pat Kelly’s J/109 Storm (Rush SC) which is all-too-familiar to RC35 competitors. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

The short answer is: “Yes, you do have to be a logistics genius”. But meanwhile, other sailors live in a world of an alternative reality, where having your boat at the other end of the country can become demanding to the point of irritation, as there are inevitably other reasonable and non-negotiable domestic requirements increasingly encroaching on your time.

And anyway, what’s the point of being home-based in an agreeable sailing area with plenty of good local racing challenges, when you insist on expending season-long energy in going to only slightly more glamorous alternative locations simply because some hyper-vocal opinion-formers and commentators in sailing will insist on telling you: “This Is Where It’s At. Ya Gotta Be There.”

Born again….once upon a time, this was Paul O’Higgins’ Corby 33 Rockabill V of the RIYC. Now she has a completely new look and identity as a successful contender in the RC35 class. Photo: RC35 ClassBorn again….once upon a time, this was Paul O’Higgins’ Corby 33 Rockabill V of the RIYC. Now she has a completely new look and identity as a successful contender in the RC35 class. Photo: RC35 Class

WHEN LONG VOYAGING TO EVENTS WAS A BADGE OF HONOUR

Now admittedly, there was a time - maybe around forty or fifty years ago - when many of the main pillars of the modern sailing programme in and around Ireland were being put in place. In those early days, being prepared to travel long distances to take part in a location-specific major event was regarded as a badge of honour.

And, of course, by the nature of some events, this was unavoidable.

Thus that great pioneer of support for Wicklow’s Round Ireland Race, Dave FitzGerald of Galway Bay SC, knew that in entering his Holman 41 Partizan he was committing himself to sailing round Ireland twice. Equally, in the days when the Scottish Series was leading the pace in the numbers game with entrants running into several hundreds, boats like Partizan and Donal Morrissey’s GK34 Joggernaut from Galway, and Martin Reilly’s First from Sligo, made the long haul up round Donegal to get to Tarbert.

Dave Fitzgerald’s Partizan from Galway comes out of the dawn to finish the first Round Ireland Race at Wicklow in 1980. Participation in this classic meant she sailed round Ireland twice. Photo: Wicklow SCDave Fitzgerald’s Partizan from Galway comes out of the dawn to finish the first Round Ireland Race at Wicklow in 1980. Participation in this classic meant she sailed round Ireland twice. Photo: Wicklow SC

This was a level of dedication occasionally outdone by a bunch of hard men from Tralee Bay SC in Fenit, who weren’t too sure which way round Ireland was the faster to Loch Fyne from Kerry with their Sigma 33 Black Pepper, but they got there nevertheless.

O’LEARY’S HYPER-ACTIVE CORBY 36 ANTIX

And then in the course of time, Anthony O’Leary of Royal Cork and his largely family crew with the Corby 36 Antix seemed to be winning everything everywhere, accumulating a score-sheet which indicated a level of dedication you’ll seldom see emulated nowadays. For even the current Antix - a Cape 31 with her first American title already logged in the Florida Keys – looks to be setting up for a leisurely American progress northwards with the new summer, bound for various event-offering venues.

 Rather different to Loch Fyne in the Spring – Anthony O’Leary racing the latest Antix (red hull) to success with the Cape 31s in the Florida Keys Rather different to Loch Fyne in the Spring – Anthony O’Leary racing the latest Antix (red hull) to success with the Cape 31s in the Florida Keys

The possibility of a reaction against a hectic season-long and multi-venues programme may in its way be a small reflection of the increasing questioning of the benefits of globalisation. For sure, there are many aspects of life and business which get universal benefit from globalisation. But when carried to extremes, globalisation can mean that one area’s success inevitably brings another area’s impoverishment. 

LIMITED TIME WINDOWS

There are only so many weekends and free weeks available in the most popular period for major racing events, even if experience indicates that a championship of maximum four days is what the punters want for anything other than a Worlds. So, far from working with a clean sheet, any club or organisation looking to introduce a new event into the schedule is almost inevitably going to find they’re clashing with something important somewhere else.

Thus the two outstanding clashes in 2023 are the RC35s on Belfast Lough with RUYC in that last weekend of June going completely head-to-head with the Sovereign’s Cup in Kinsale, and the WIORA Championship 2023 at the intriguing venue of Kilronan on Inis Mor in the Aran Islands from 5th to 8th July, up against the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2023 in Dublin Bay from 6th to 9th July.

America comes to Ireland… one of the most successful contenders in the Sovereign’s Cup in Kinsale in recent years has been Kieran Collin’s Olson 30 Corace IV from Crosshaven, a mini “Transpac sled” of Californian inspiration. Photo: Robert BatemanAmerica comes to Ireland… one of the most successful contenders in the Sovereign’s Cup in Kinsale in recent years has been Kieran Collin’s Olson 30 Corace IV from Crosshaven, a mini “Transpac sled” of Californian inspiration. Photo: Robert Bateman

With the less-crowded West Coast programme, some East Coast sailors were bewildered by WIORA’s choice of dates, but those in the know say that Kilronan is committed to other events – some with a significant shoreside input – on any alternative weekend, and the little port town can only cope with a certain amount of overnight visitors, as the regular air service and the fast ferries from Rossaveal mean that most incomers are only day visitors.

JACKEENS VERSUS CULCHIES AFLOAT

Yet the Dublin spin on it all continues the Jackeen versus Culchie interface in its usual mildly malicious forms. They know that few if any WIORA boats will be interesting in racing in the VDLR in any case, but they point out that national travelling classes such as the J/24s might be keen to do both, but are now prevented. So they take it a stage further and say that the WIORA folk are keen to keep out East Coast interlopers, as the Westerners subscribe enthusiastically to the idea that if you’re keen to run your own regatta, then there’s little point in doing so unless you make reasonably sure that a local boat wins the main trophy…..

Kironan on Inis Mor in the Aran Islands, venue for the WIORA Championship 2023 from 5th to 8th July. Pontoons will be installed in the outer harbour to host the fleet, which totalled 43 boats in 2017 when last at the same venueKironan on Inis Mor in the Aran Islands, venue for the WIORA Championship 2023 from 5th to 8th July. Pontoons will be installed in the outer harbour to host the fleet, which totalled 43 boats in 2017 when last at the same venue

As “local boats” for WIORA means craft drawn from fleets as far north as Killybegs and as far south as Bantry, the scope is already broad in its catchment area. But we wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that some crews in Schull, Kinsale and even Crosshaven are thinking that they might as well turn right as left when they put out to sea in early July to head for a distant regatta, and if they were bound for Kilronan that might put a South Coast cat or two among the West Coast pigeons at Inis Mor.

WE CAN’T APPLY PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS OF INVOLVEMENT TO AN AMATEUR SETTING

Despite that, we take a sanguine view of these “fixture clashes” by pointing out that some amateur sailors are mistaken in trying to take their levels of involvement and time-consuming participation from the examples of headline-dominating resources-dominated super-star events. For the top pros find themselves having to think boats and sailing and personal promotion day and night, and it can be an unhealthy mental environment leading to burnout.

Place of potential pressure: Houston Yacht Club in Texas, where they’ve so much sunshine that boat-owners are prepared pay extra to be berthed under a sun-shading roof. Place of potential pressure: Houston Yacht Club in Texas, where they’ve so much sunshine that boat-owners are prepared pay extra to be berthed under a sun-shading roof. 

We learned of an eloquent instance of this last season when the Irish ILCA squad – with Eve McMahon setting the pace towards another Gold Medal - were doing their stuff in style at the Houston Yacht Club in Texas. For the Houston YC is where John Kolius emerged – yes, that John Kolius, of Volvo Ocean and America’s Cup and sailmaking fame.

HOUSTON, WE HAVE BURNOUT

He makes no secret of the fast that at Houston YC, he was the classic young “clubhuse rat” from a newly-joined family, and mad keen to show he could sail well with any family who were going out when his own family weren’t afloat. And my goodness, could he sail.

He was so good at it that they wanted him here, there and everywhere, winning international races at the very highest level and at such a hectic pace that in time he burnt out, and he knew it. So he sold his sailing business in 2011 and he and his wife have gone private to the point of anonymity with an easygoing sports fishing operation in the Bahamas. 

ICRA “BOAT OF THE YEAR” IS OUR SALVATION

So those who would seek a non-clashing yet continuous season-long programme at a permanent championship pace should maybe be careful of what they wish for. There are times when Less is More. And in Ireland, we now have a rather good solution. Over the years, the formula for selecting the ICRA “Boat of the Year” has been refined until it has produced a set of requirements that can provide a meaningful result within a civilized level of sporting activity afloat.

The J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans, Howth YC) is the current ICRA “Boat of the Year”. The continuing refinement of the Boat of the Year formula has gone some way to relieving pressure on any fixtures clash in a typical sailing seasonThe J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans, Howth YC) is the current ICRA “Boat of the Year”. The continuing refinement of the Boat of the Year formula has gone some way to relieving pressure on any fixtures clash in a typical sailing season

At its best, it facilitates Corinthian-type sailing, even if semi-professionals are sometimes involved. It’s not perfect, but it really is working quite well. And those of us who fail to see the sport in “sports fishing” reckon that any approach which keeps people happily sailing is something to be welcomed.

Published in W M Nixon

Galway Bay Sailing Club is celebrating an overall win for its Tribal crew at the WIORA championships hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary last weekend. 

The well campaigned Farr 31 took home first place in Class One IRC for the second year in a row.

The GBSC Tribal crew is skippered by Liam Burke.

The breezy championships at Kilrush survived some strong breezes but it was not without incident with a J24 keelboat sinking on the first day.

Afloat's report of the championships is here.

Published in Galway Harbour

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

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There has been a dramatic start to the WIORA Championships at Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary with one boat sinking and the second day of racing cancelled due to strong winds.

This year has a bumper numbers of entries for the WIORA West Coast Championship with thirty-three boats entered with representation from Mayo, Sligo, Galway, Tralee, Foynes, Kilrush, Garrykennedy and Greystones.

Day one of the Kilrush Credit Union West Coast Championships opened with light variable winds which lead to principal race officer John Leech postponing the 1155hrs start for an hour. It was not long before the wind filled in from the north building to a steady 20 knots, race one got underway for all four classes on a triangular course of which there was some spectacular downwind spinnaker reaches.

With the wind still building, race two got underway for all four classes again using a triangular course. The strong winds and heavy rain made for challenging conditions for competitors.

A spokesperson for the regatta told Afloat "At the finish line of race two, two boats met on port and starboard. The starboard hand boat was forced to crash tack which caused the boat to capsize. The three mark boats on the water were quickly on the scene to take the crew of the yacht on board the safety boat and quickly brought them ashore all in good spirits. Efforts were made to recover the boat but unfortunately, the boat later sank; all relevant authorities were informed".

Galway -based sailmaker Yannick Lemonnier who witnessed the capsize posted the photos (below) and said on Facebook: "A bit of [an] event yesterday in WIORA, a typical J24 sinking with +20kts and headsail backing but sadly no opportunity to mark and recover the boat this time". 

It is understood that after the crash tack the boat, (sail number 3050, Jumpin Jive from Greystones) capsized, filled with water and sank as the photos below show

WIORA J/24 Sinks at Kilrush

WIORA J/24 Sinks at Kilrush

WIORA J/24 Sinks at Kilrush

WIORA J/24 Sinks at Kilrush

WIORA J/24 Sinks at Kilrush

WIORA leaders after Day One

Leaders in each class after two races are starting to become clear. In Class 1 IRC Liam’s Burke Farr 31 leads the pack, in Echo all the way from Mayo John Gordon’s W332 X-rated is in first position. Class 2 in both IRC & Echo Darragh McCormack on Relativity, an Albin Express from Foynes Yacht Club leads on both IRC & Echo. In Class 3 Tadgh O Loingsigh’s J24 Janx Spirit from Tralee Bay Sailing Club leads in both IRC & Echo. Class 4 Division A is led by Kevin Reidy’s Shelduck from Foynes Yacht Club, at their first event with their recently acquired Dufour 34, with fellow club sailor Donal McCormack and John Paul Buckley’s Battle the Shamrock 30 leading Class 4 Division B.

Day two racing has been cancelled due to weather.

Results are here

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The main area of discussion at this month's WIORA AGM, revolved around rejuvenating the fleet numbers at the annual West Coast Championships and on the west coast in general.

WIORA numbers have been falling in recent years and the Pandemic made things worse.

As Afloat reported previously, 24 members from Counties Kerry, Limerick, Clare and Galway attended the first face to face AGM of the association in two years at the Inn at Dromoland on Thursday, March 3rd. 

the outgoing Commodore, Gary Fort reviewing his three-year tenure, stated that it is now very challenging to maintain vibrant numbers at the annual West Coast Championships and to this end a number of measurers had been put in place over the last three years to encourage sailors, particularly young sailors to participate.

These included a €1,000 grant, to help support a U25 team attending the West Coast championships. This is payable in two €500 instalments over two years, collectable at the event.

Host clubs are to get €500 towards craning costs (or other one-off costs associated with running the event) and any U25 team entering and competing in the Championships will get their entry paid in full.

These measures, it is hoped will help bring younger sailors into the sailing scene and add some youth and vibrancy to the West Coast Championships. WIORA’s funds are by no means substantial, but this was seen by the Commodore and Committee as an essential measure for the next couple of years.

Gary Fort wished the incoming Commodore Raymond McGibney, a well known and respected sailor on the west coast, the best with his term as Commodore in the future.

The West Coast Championships will be hosted by Kilrush in 2022 and take place in the Aran Islands in 2023.

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The 2021 West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) AGM was held in Dromoland Inn in County Clare last Thursday evening. The meeting was well attended with representatives from a number of clubs on the western seaboard.

Prior to the meeting, an EGM was held to ratify the eligibility of voting rights on the location of the annual West Coast Championships. The proposal was that one vote would be allocated to a boat that has participated in two of the last three West Coast Championships; previously boats only had to attend one of the last two West Coast Championships. The rationale for the change is to ensure that the boats that make the effort to sail at an away venue, as well as their home venue, get to decide where the event is held and this will hopefully encourage boats from clubs who wish to host the event in the future to attend away events and make their presence felt.

The proposal received the two-thirds majority required to pass.

The AGM began with reports from the officers including the outgoing Commodore, Gary Fort, of Tralee Bay Sailing Club who welcomed the opportunity to meet face to face after two years and thanked everyone who participated in the previous year’s West Coast Championships. He commented on the challenges faced by everyone in sailing in the past two years and looked forward to this year’s West Coast Championships at the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland in Kilrush.

A motion was put to the meeting to provide a grant to cover the entry fee to any Under 25 Teams participating in the West Coast Championships, which was immediately approved by the members.

The venue for the 2024 West Coast Championships was also chosen at the meeting and it will be hosted by Foynes Yacht Club.

Other discussions at the meeting included the change in format for the 2022 West Coast Championships, as reported in Afloat in January, specifically shortening the event from the traditional four-day event. The dates for this year’s three-day event were proposed to the WIORA Committee in October last year and the committee was in favour of trying out “any innovation that will increase participation”, particularly in these uncertain times.

There was also a discussion on ECHO handicaps.

The election of officers saw Raymond McGibney, of Foynes Yacht Club and Tarbert Island Maritime Club, become the new WIORA Commodore. McGibney is well known on the west coast for campaigning his Dehler 34, Dis-a-Ray, for many years. Rachel Conway from Foynes Yacht Club is the new Honorary Secretary and Gary Fort will take on the role of Honorary Treasurer.

The other members of the committee are Liam Burke GBSC, Adrian O’Connell RWYCI, Liam Lynch TBSC, Brian Ford GBSC, Mary McCormack FYC (Under 25 Representative).

McGibney, thanked Gary Fort, Cormac MacDonncha and Liam Madden for their efforts on the WIORA through very difficult times and looked forward to a successful year of sailing ahead.

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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

Featured Sailing School

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Featured Clubs

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Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

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Featured Associations

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ICRA
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Featured Marinas

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Featured Sailmakers

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Featured Chandleries

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https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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