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When Liam Burke’s interesting Farr 31 Tribal from Galway Bay SC became the new West of Ireland champion in racing the WIORA series with Tralee Bay SC at Fenit recently, it marked the latest successful stage in the Tribal Youth Initiative, which aims to give structure to the transferring of junior dinghy sailing skills to the cruiser-racer fleets. At the same time, the juniors themselves found they had much to learn, none more so than Olivia Cure (GBSC), who was the only female sailor in the junior group taking Tribal to Kerry with Liam.

“Four days of perfect sailing conditions and warm sunny weather in Fenit was a real treat for all those involved” she comments. "Every race was a challenge in itself, but very rewarding all the same”. As bowman Jack Nolan put it: "The feeling of satisfaction I got from a fantastic Spinnaker hoist was immense” he recalls.

"One thing that stuck out for me” continues Olivia, "was how relaxed the atmosphere was on board. From our skipper and tactician at the stern, to the crew at the bow - everyone had their job, and it made for a very laid-back atmosphere and environment".

Tribal leading WIORA on a benign Atlantic at Tralee Bay. She’s a classic vintage Farr which continues to be competitive.Tribal leading WIORA on a benign Atlantic at Tralee Bay. She’s a classic vintage Farr which continues to be competitive.

"There are some really big differences between dinghies and cruisers, but also many parallels." said Justin Mitchell Ward when asked about his experience at Wiora. "The teamwork skills that I have learned sailing 420s greatly aided me in operating as an efficient member of a much larger crew. "

"Most of our crew also sail dinghies", concludes Olivia, "and we agreed that all the little skills and techniques we picked up racing 420s really helped us in sailing Tribal. We all had a blast at WIORA this year, and for that I'd like to thank Liam Burke, David Carberry, and all the organisers of WIORA for a great few days of racing".

Olivia Cure on the helm, David Carbery on the main, and Ronan Shepard trimming spinnaker on Tribal.Olivia Cure on the helm, David Carbery on the main, and Ronan Shepard trimming spinnaker on Tribal.

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The Bon Secours WIORA West Coast Championship was held in Tralee Bay Sailing Club from Aug 25-28 with light breezes and glorious sunshine on three days out of four. 

PRO John Leech did an amazing job to get nine races in for all three fleets. He even managed one on Friday despite poor visibility and fickle winds.

IRC 1 was a masterclass in light air sailing from the Farr 31 Tribal from GBSC with Liam Burke at the helm. She won 7 races to easily take the class win. Jaguar (Gary Fort) a J92s from the host club was second with Dexterity an X332 from FYC (Team Foynes) in third.

Tribal also did the business in ECHO 1 but here it was Ibaraki (Mike Guilfoyle) from GBSC in second with Jaguar in third.

IRC was a real ding dong battle between the J 24s from Foynes and a Corby 25 from TBSC. All three won races but at the finish, it was Lady J (Ray McGibney) from FYC who took the trophy. David Buckley’s Eclipse from TBSC was a close second with Darragh McCormack of FYC on Stouche in third. In ECHO 2 LadyJ was also the winner. Eclipse and Stouche swapped places here.

The white sails fleet enjoyed very close racing. Samphire (Mary O’Sullivan) from TBSC was the early leader but Seasmoke (Kevin Reidy) FYC took matters into his own hands on day two with two bullets and a second in the three races. Going into the last day it was very tight with the all-important second discard likely to come into play. Bev Lowes on Poitin from FYC took both races to win by one point from Samphire with Seasmoke on the same total taking third.

Liam Burke sailing the Farr 31 "TRIBAL" and his young crew from Galway Sailing Club won 7 races out of 9 races to win his class at WIORA. Tribal also won under ECHO 1. Photo from left to right -David Carbery, Cormac Conneely, Justin Mitchel Ward, Jack Nolan, Liam Burke (Skipper) Ronan Shepard and Olivia Cure.Liam Burke sailing the Farr 31 "TRIBAL" and his young crew from Galway Sailing Club won 7 races out of 9 races to win his class at WIORA. Tribal also won under ECHO 1. Photo from left to right -David Carbery, Cormac Conneely, Justin Mitchel Ward, Jack Nolan, Liam Burke (Skipper) Ronan Shepard and Olivia Cure.

WIORA now looks forward to next year’s event to be held on the Shannon Estuary under the burgee of the Royal Western Yacht Club in Kilrush.

Full results available here

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The 2023 West of Ireland Offshore Racing (WIORA) Championships will be sailed at Kilronan Harbour on Inismor, following a vote at the WIORA AGM last week.

Galway Bay Sailing Club with Cuman Seoltoireacht Kilronan as well as Foynes Yacht Club made bids to host the week and these were presented at the AGM.

Kilronan's successful bid has been hailed as a "significant benefit to sailing in the West of Ireland and the people of Aran".

In addition to promising another top-class sailing event in 2023, the regatta will be instrumental in supporting Kilronan in its bid to get permanent Pontoons in place, this process has already started, a GBSC spokeswoman told Afloat. 

WIORA previously sailed on InisMor in 2017, as Afloat reported here.

Building on the experience of 2017 this will be a great social event. It will give a much-needed boost to a community hard hit by Covid, according to GBSC.

It's another feather in the cap for west coast sailing that also sees the Round Britain & Ireland Race Stopover arriving into Galway Port in 2022 as Afloat reported here.

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Tralee Bay Sailing Club (TBSC) in Fenit, County Kerry and WIORA have jointly announced that the WIORA Championships scheduled for September at the most westerly port in Europe have been cancelled.

TBSC Commodore Liam Lynch told Afloat 'With the current coronavirus restrictions and the likelihood of further outbreaks, the club and organisation agreed that it would be impossible to stage the event to the standard expected'.

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Tralee Bay Sailing Club and the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) have announced its staging of the 2020 WIORA Championships at Fenit in County Kerry has been postponed until September.

TBSC Commodore Liam Lynch and WIORA Commodore Gary Fort agreed that it would be impossible to run the event under the current restrictions on its original dates from June (24th -29th).

New dates have been agreed for the end of September which will not clash with other events on the cruiser-racer calendar.

The event will now be held over two weekends, Saturday and Sunday, September 19th and 20th and Friday and Saturday, September 25th and 26th.

The Notice of Race and entry forms will be available at www.traleebaysailingclub.ie

There will also be a race to Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary on Sunday 27th to position boats for the RWYCI October Series.

Published in WIORA

Having sailed in several WIORA regatta’s in the past, One Design Expert and founder of North Sails Ireland, Nigel Young looked forward to getting back into the fleet this year in Foynes on the Shannon Estuary last week and took the opportunity to sail onboard the X-332 Dexterity. Nigel talks here about their victory in the long race.

I had the pleasure of sailing the long race with Liam Madden and the crew on X-332 Dexterity. We had a cracking start and challenged for the lead around the course. Racing in the Shannon requires a good understanding of the tides and knowing when to change sides in the river to take full advantage of the currents. This is always tricky to get 100% right on the day, but the speed generated from the new North Sails fitted a few days prior to the regatta carried us through to the win. I was delighted to play a small part in the overall Class win for Dexterity.

More on this from Nigel on North Sails website here.

When not competing at Foynes, Nigel and son James were on the water videoing the racing, using this footage to run a post-racing debrief session for competitors. James shot some fantastic drone footage of the fleet coming through the narrow channel between the club and Foynes Island.

James youngJames Young

Published in North Sails Ireland
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With the full programme of nine races for the IRC Classes and seven for the two White Sail Divisions very comprehensively completed in the four day 28-boat WIORA Championship 2019 hosted by Foynes Yacht Club, the word in the west is that the Shannon Estuary is an ideal venue when the winds and weather co-operate writes WM Nixon.

Perhaps surprising is the fact that though each day’s breeze – usually with a reasonable spot of sunshine and often with prolonged periods of brightness – managed regularly to get up to 15 to 20 knots, each day the wind managed to be in a different direction. It was as good as having four different venues rolled into one, yet with the same famously hospitable clubhouse ready and waiting with the welcoming machine primed for action as the crews came ashore.

For organiser and FYC Commodore Donal McCormack, it was gratifying that so many western clubs were represented, as the lineup included Galway Bay SC, Royal Western of Ireland YC from Kilrush, Tralee Bay SC from Kerry, and the Royal Cork YC for good measure, with boats ranging from a vintage O’Brien Kennedy Kerry 6-tonner to a brace of J/109s, though the reality is that the best-represented club was Foynes itself - but then it is a club in which the active encouragement of J/24s for younger sailors is bearing fruit in a big way in numbers and performance.

lady j lady laura2Ladies’ Day on the Shannon Estuary - John Finnegan’s J/24 Lady J leading from Ed Enright’s Hunter 707 Lady Laura. Photo: Kevin Bartley

Competition was intense, particularly among the J/24s, and cool heads were needed on the Committee Boats. But even though regular WIORA guest PRO Alan Crosbie was unable to attend at the last minute for family reasons, Derek Bothwell of Howth was able to step in at short notice, and as is ever the case when an Irish Sea race officer experiences the legendary Foynes reception, he was able to report back home that hospitality is only in its infancy on the East Coast…..

Peter Moore of Tralee Bay did the officering duties for the White Sails, and between them they managed an excellent programme which usually relied on round-the-buoys-contests, but in the best WIORA traditions, one day was allocated to a distance race which included going round Foynes Island in addition to other diversions, so all tastes were catered for.

gary fort3Gary Fort’s J/92 S Jaguar from Tralee coming to the weather mark. Photo: Kevin Bartleyweather mark sunshine4The working waterway which is the Shannon Estuary was showing its most benign face. Photo: Kevin Bartley

In Class 1 IRC, the X332 Dexterity (Team Foynes, aka Liam Madden, Ruari Buckley, Ger Hobbs and Michael Campion, all FYC) started with a fourth, but that became their discard as they then scored 3,1,1,2,3,1,4 to win overall in comfort.

The Corby 25 Stonehaven Racing from Kilrush (Glynn/Griffin/Callanan, RWIYC) only managed one win but as they had a string of seconds they also discarded a fourth to take second overall, while Liam Burke’s Farr 31 Tribal from Galway had three firsts and three thirds, but also had to carry a fourth while discarding a sixth and taking a penalty in Race 7, which put her back to third overall.

In ECHO, it was re-arranged slightly, with Stonehaven racing the overall winner, Tribal second and Dexterity third.

dexterity leads5The ever-green X332 Dexterity was in fine form to win IRC overall in Class 1. Photo Kevin Bartley

Class 2 IRC was the Feast of the Foynes Flying J/24s, with the host club’s McCormack triplets – skipper Darragh crewed by brothers Mark and Noel – setting the pace with five wins and two seconds in Stouche. For good measure, their sister Mary helming the FYC Under-25 J/24 Jasper was second overall (3,2,2,(4),2,3,2,1) while J/24s elder statesman Simon McGibney was third in Gaia Racing with a string of thirds and a couple of seconds.

The implementation of ECHO gave one other boat a look-in, with Ed Enright’s Hunter 707 Lady Laura snatching a third overall while Stouche and Jasper stayed in one and two.

In White Sails 1, Brian O’Sullivan’s Oyster 37 Amazing Grace from Tralee Bay (an overall winner of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race) made an impressive start with a win, and indeed she got another win later in the series, but otherwise it was largely dominated by Derry Nash’s First 31.7 Catalpa (Royal Cork YC) with four firsts, a second and a fourth, while Amazing Grace held second. Third overall was Martin O’Connor’s First 345 Moonglow (FYC).

j24s long race6Neck and neck inside the island – Mary McCormack helming the J/24 Jasper has a narrow lead over Simon McGibney’s sister-ship Gaia Racing as they run through inside Foynes Island during the long race. Photo: Kevin Bartley
White Sails 2 saw the Foynes dominance return, with Ronan Keane’s Albin Express Relativity taking four firsts, a second and a fourth after a shaky start in the first race when they were 7th, but that was gladly discarded. Relativity is a lovely little boat with more than a bit of history, as for many successful years she was campaigned out of Howth by current ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell with partners Johnny and Susy Murphy.
simon mcgibney7Simon McGibney’s J/24 Gaia Racing (aka Ropelocker.ie) seemed to be doing everything right, yet he still had a brace of Mc Cormack-helmed boats ahead in the final reckoning. Photo: Kevin Bartley

Second overall was something very different yet equally interesting, Tom Murray’s vintage Kerry Class 6 tonner Kerry Dream, which won the first race but had a couple of sixths, one of which they could discard as they’d plenty of seconds. John Reidy’s UFO 27 Wildcat had a second in the first race, but otherwise was counting thirds, fourths and a fifth to place third overall.

In the fleet as a whole, it was Darragh Mc Cormack’s time to star as supreme champion with his overall almost-clean-sweep. Last August he was the tops in Mermaid Week at Foynes, and now, even as this is being posted on Afloat.ie, he and many other legends of Mermaid Racing are gearing up for the Mother of all Mermaid National Championships, at the Royal Cork YC in Crosshaven for the first time ever. At the very least, it will be a mutually educational experience for all involved...

mccormack clan8Only Mc Cormacks need apply……successful sailing McCormacks nearly every which way at the prizegiving with (left to right) James Mc Cormack, Michael Lynch, Roisin Mc Cormack, Darragh Mc Cormack (overall WIORA Champion 2019) , Ciara Mc Cormack, Vincent Mc Cormack (sitting), Mark Mc Cormack, Noel Mc Cormack, Patricia Mc Cormack and Dónal Mc Cormack (Commodore Foynes YC). Photo: Kevin Bartley

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The Annual General Meeting of the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) took place at the Inn at Dromoland in Co. Clare earlier this week.

Among the usual formalities of an AGM there included a vote for the venue of the West Coast Championships in 2020. Three clubs had applied to host the event showing that there is continued strong support for WIORA and an appetite for cruiser racing all along the west coast. The venue for 2020 was awarded to Tralee Bay Sailing Club.

A number of items discussed by the members at the AGM included promoting youth cruiser race; there are currently three J24 under 25 teams on the west coast with representatives from clubs at the AGM expressing interest developing their own teams. There was also discussion on how to promote more cruiser racing events on the west coast; the success of the Combined Clubs October Series hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club in Kilrush most notably mentioned.

The members were also informed of a cruise to Lorient, for anyone wishing to take a break from racing, which will take place in July 2019 and currently has 20 boats committed to sailing. The cruise will leave Galway on July 12th for Kinsale where they will meet up with boats from the south before departing for Lorient.

After thirteen years leading the association, Simon Mc Gibney stepped down as Commodore. On his departure, he thanked the committee, the members and the many clubs along the west coast for their support over the years.

Cormac MacDhonnacha spoke on behalf of the WIORA Committee and its members to sincerely thank Simon for all his years of service and exceptional contribution to promoting cruiser racing along the west coast of Ireland and described him as the face of cruiser racing on the west coast for over a decade. The association and its members would like to wish Simon the very best of luck in the future as he looks forward, in his own words, “to just arriving at events and going sailing”.

The West Coast Championships in 2019 will take place at Foynes Yacht Club on 24th to 27th July.

The WIORA Committee for 2019: Gary Fort (TBSC), Cormac MacDhonnacha (GBSC), Liam Madden (FYC), Liam Burke (FYC), Donal Small (RGYC), Liam Lynch (TBSC), Ray Mc Gibney (FYC).

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There was a disappointing start to today's WIORA sailing championships with the postponement of the much-anticipated races due to strong winds on Galway Bay.

A 54-boat fleet was scheduled to race two races this morning but the Skippers Briefing at the Harbour Hotel at Galway Docks heard from International Race Officers Alan Crosbie and David Lovegrove that winds were gusting to 32-knots and the races would be postponed on safety grounds. See the vid of the briefing below that explains the difficulties faced by the race team.

Galway Bay Sailing Club organisers are now preparing for the first race of the 2018 ICRA Championships tomorrow morning with an extended programme over six hours.

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This week Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) members and friends gathered at Dock 1 Seafood Bar and restaurant in Galway Harbour for the official launch of the ICRA/WIORA 2018 which will be held in Galway Harbour from August 15th – 18th.

On a gloriously sunny Summer solstice evening the event chairman, Event organiser Martin Breen, kicked off proceedings by confirming how important it is for GBSC to host a national regatta in the Galway Docks.

Martin mentioned that GBSC has had a very sombre beginning to the season with the loss of longtime members Henry Lupton and David Fitzgerald. Even though of different generations, they were like-minded in their promotion of sailing and their exploits have been well documented on ‘Afloat’ie. It was their peers who wrote the constitution of GBSC which includes the club goal of ‘promoting the sport of Sailing on Galway Bay’ and it is within this goal that we sought the hosting of the 2018 ICRA National Championships.

"Please judge us in GBSC on how we contributed to promoting the sport of sailing on Galway Bay"

GBSC are really looking forward to providing the best of Galway hospitality ashore and the best of race management afloat, as the National Championships in any sport deserves.

Even though entries received to date are already in excess of entries to recent National Championships, GBSC says they do not consider this to be a benchmark of the success of the event. "Rather, after the Championships and when we begin to reflect on this season past about the time of the Autumn equinox, please judge us in GBSC on how we contributed to promoting the sport of sailing on Galway Bay".

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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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