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Displaying items by tag: Galway Bay

So much happened so quickly in Galway Bay SC’s 46-boat Lambs Week cruise to the Aran islands and Connemara (as reported in that it took a day or two for a more formal presentation to take place with the main King of the Bay trophy going to winner Mark Wilson (GBSC), whose Sigma 33 Scorpio won the Round the Aran Islands Race Pursuit Race by just 30 seconds from Jackie Cronin’s Jimmy Burn from Kilrush, a great credit to handicapper Fergal Lyons.

The trophy was presented for competition by Galway Marine, and with the silver salver now properly inscribed, it was handed over yesterday (Monday) by co-proprietor Piece Purcell Jnr in the popular marine store which has become an integral part of the maritime scene in Galway’s city and dockland area.

Connemara champion: Mark Wilson’s successful Sigma 33 Scorpio is crewed by Cian Conroy, Cronan Quirke, Damian Burke, Aoife Macken and ISO.Connemara champion: Mark Wilson’s successful Sigma 33 Scorpio is crewed by Cian Conroy, Cronan Quirke, Damian Burke, Aoife Macken and ISO.

Published in Lambs Week
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With an impressive and eclectic fleet of 46 boats from West Coast ports which ranged from Clew Bay to the north to Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary to the south - in addition to the many harbours and anchorages within Galway Bay itself - last weekend's five day Lambs Week Cruise organised by Galway Bay Sailing Club took full advantage of the improving weather to take in Rossaveal, Kilronan on Inishmor in the Aran Islands, and Roundstone, the very essence of Connemara.

The theme of the five-day Lamb's Week – which began with most boats assembling at Rossaveal Marina on the Thursday evening – was accessibility, and the willing provision of encouragement for the less-experienced.

But one of the challenges in organizing a heavily-subscribed Cruise-in-Company of this nature in a very special place like the greater Galway Bay area is that while the number of very useful marinas at strategic ports is increasing, the number of pontoon berths available for visitors – even with rafting-up – is limited, and extra boats will have to find secure moorings, or rely on their own anchors.

It's one very complicated piece of coastline, but in experienced company it becomes a cruising paradiseIt's one very complicated piece of coastline, but in experienced company it becomes a cruising paradise

Any proper cruising boat should of course have adequate ground tackle. However, the problem of confined space in the best anchorages – often with established moorings cluttering the sea-bed - together with the rich proliferation of seaweed, means that your anchor can become irretrievably fouled, or else it doesn't take hold at all as it sits on a bed of kelp.

GBSC came up with a solution of breath-taking simplicity. They made a batch of concrete mooring blocks at their Renville base near Oranmore at the head of the Bay, and with the skilled services of Ocean Crest Marine, they'd a complete set of these additional reliable moorings in place when the first of the fleet arrived in Aran through Friday afternoon and evening with a race from Rossaveal in a brisk sou'wester which experienced the last of the Cruise's serious rain.

Problem: Shortage of Visitors' Moorings? Solution: Galway Bay SC simply made their own, and sent them on ahead of the fleet.Problem: Shortage of Visitors' Moorings? Solution: Galway Bay SC simply made their own, and sent them on ahead of the fleet.

Rossaveal was the assembly port for a diverse fleet – this is the Contessa 32 of Gillian Flattery and Blair Stannaway ready for the off.Rossaveal was the assembly port for a diverse fleet – this is the Contessa 32 of Frankie Leonard ready for the off.

Kilronan became the fleet base throughout Saturday and into Sunday morning (it will be the location for WIORA Week 2023), and with such numbers in port, it seemed natural to provide a race right round the Aran Islands for those with the need for a further spot of competition, though some thought they'd done quite enough racing with Friday's windward slog.

The pontoon-berthed section of the fleet in Kilronan. Photo: Declan DooleyThe quayside-berthed section of the fleet in Kilronan. Photo: Declan Dooley

Racing the Atlantic during Lamb's Week, Aaron O'Reily's Kondon Buntz in foreground.Racing the Atlantic during Lamb's Week, Aaron O'Reily's Kondon Buntz in foreground.

Twenty-one boats of all shapes and sizes – in other words, nearly half of the fleet – took on the challenge in a sunny 18 knots westerly, the highlight being the spectacular sight of the Cliffs of Moher as they made the southerly turn of the circuit at Finnis Rock. To add to the sport, it had been made a pursuit race, with the first boat – Patrick McCarthy's Snapper – getting away at 11:00 hrs, while the Queen of the Fleet, Tomas Furey's speedy big Rhodocar, was held back until 11:44.

Winning style – Mark Wilson's Scorpio sweeps along to a close victoryWinning style – Mark Wilson's Scorpio sweeps along to a close victory

First to finish – and winner of the King of Lambs Trophy – was Mark Wilson's Sigma 33 Scorpio from GBSC. But if anything it's the handicapper, Fergal Lyons, who deserves a Gold Medal at the very least, as Scorpio at 14:16:53 crossed the final line only 30 seconds ahead of Jackie Cronin's Jimmy Burn from Kilrush, which in turn was five seconds ahead of Conor Owens' Sealion (GBSC), while only one second behind that in fourth was Stephen O'Gorman's Green Monkey (GBSC).

Brothers Conor and Fergal Lyons aboard Out of the Blue. It was Fergal who produced the exceptionally well-judged handicaps.Brothers Conor and Fergal Lyons aboard Out of the Blue. It was Fergal who produced the exceptionally well-judged handicaps.

This was pursuit racing at its very best, as their starting times had been Scorpio: 11:23; Jimmy Burn: 11:33; Sealion: 11:14; and Green Monkey 11:42. It was superb sport which greatly impressed the Aran Islanders, and set the tone for a boisterous night in Kilronan. Yet they still managed to be underway in a reasonably timely manner on the Sunday morning for the calm hop northwestward to Roundstone, one of the Connacht coast's great cruising passages as it involves a rewarding mixture of open ocean sailing and reasonably intricate pilotage to conclude in a little port which rates highly on any discerning cruising person's dream list.

There was time for a lunchtime break and swims and shore visits at MacDara's Island – GBSC Commodore John Shorten likened the procession of the fleet to a miniature of the approaches to the Suez Canal – before going on into the embrace of Roundstone, with the partying ashore rounded out by a barbecue in the Village Hall, following which the overnight fog was successfully negotiated by Martin the ever-helpful unofficial Roundstone harbourmaster to ensure that everyone got safely back to the right boat.

Part of the fleet in RoundstonePart of the fleet in Roundstone
They brought the summer back with them – sunset at the return to RossavealThey brought the summer back with them – sunset at the return to Rossaveal

The morning brought total summer with bright sunshine and the temperature pushing towards 25 degrees as the majority headed back towards Rossaveal, while others had longer passages north and south after a hugely successful event which will be remembered as one of the highlights of the 2021 season on the west coast.

As ever with an event of this kind, there were many movers and shakers and volunteers involved, but if you suggested that John Shorten and Cormac Mac Donncha in particular - and the likes of Pierce Purcell and others - had something to do with this remarkable happening, you wouldn't be far off target.

The King of Lambs – Mark Wilson's Sigma 33 Scorpio was crewed by Cian Conroy, Cronan Quirke, Damian Burke, Aoife Macken, and Iso.The King of Lambs – Mark Wilson's Sigma 33 Scorpio was crewed by Cian Conroy, Cronan Quirke, Damian Burke, Aoife Macken, and Iso.

Published in Lambs Week

Sea and sky, as in the marine and astronomy, were twin themes of this year’s “Young Hearts”, a field programme involving transition year students working with senior citizens in Galway.

Tutors Dr Noirin Burke of Galway Atlantaquaria, artist Vicky Smith and astronomy experts Prof Andy Shearer and Adriana Cardinot of NUI Galway drew up a curriculum involving marine biology, astronomy and art.

Prof Shearer explained that the “Sky and Earth” module was supported by a Royal Astronomical Society award, marking its bicentenary.

The overall aim of the intergenerational programme is to build relationships and solidarity, according to co-ordinator Loretta Needham of Croí na Gaillimhe.

In spite of Covid 19, “Young Hearts” continued on Zoom over the past year, with pupils from Our Lady’s College, Galway and older members of the community.

Needham explained that isolation has been an issue for senior citizens long before Covid-19, and the programme aims to “create a foundation for lifelong social responsibility and understanding among young people”.

Young HeartsThe overall aim of the intergenerational programme is to build relationships and solidarity

The last class for the 2020/2021 year was not on Zoom, but was at the socially distanced setting of low Spring tide on Galway’s Grattan beach.

Hear more about it on this week’s Wavelengths

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Preparations continue apace for Galway Bay's Lamb's Week Sailing Regatta that starts on Thursday. 

As Afloat previously reported, Galway Bay Sailing Club hosts Lambs Week from August 19th to 25th, when some 50 boats will take part in the five-day regatta.

The regatta includes a number of races for four classes from Ros-a-Mhíl, with a day’s race around the Aran islands and from there to Roundstone in Connemara.

The new moorings blocks are being shipped to the Aran Islands just in time for the initiative that sees the Lamb's Week fleet overnight at Kilronan Harbour on Inish Mor.

GBSC Commodore Johnny Shorten explained where the regatta got its name to Afloat's Tom MacSweeney here on podcast.

Published in Galway Harbour
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I just love the approach of Galway sailors in mixing serious racing and enjoyment.

If British sailors can have Cowes Week and West Cork has Calves Week, in Galway, they have Lamb's Week which has "gentlemanly racing," plenty of "craic," and "something to stick up on the mantelpiece at home for everyone."

What more could you want from a few days sailing and this one in Galway Bay, where there is a rapidly expanding sailing scene?

Two weeks ago I was talking on this Podcast to Nancy Roe, one of the founding members and now Club Treasurer and Membership Secretary at Galway City Sailing Club about their development of dinghy sailing in the city.

That was given great support by Galway Bay Sailing Club which, based at Rinville, Oranmore, ten kilometres from the city prides itself on welcoming "all ages, skill levels and abilities to join us to experience the world of sailing."

And that they certainly do.

Back in 2019, they had a cruise to Lorient and then, responding to pandemic issues, they came up with Lamb's Week, which they intend to follow with a cruise to Scotland next year.

45 boats entered, 3 Destinations to be visited, a 'King of the Bay Pursuit Challenge' around the islands for both competitive and non-competitive boats part of the Galway Maritime King of the Bay series, all happening from August 19 to 23 as the GBSC boats follow the Lamb's course.

gbsc Lamb's Week

"Gentlemanly racing, plenty of craic" and "everyone gets a prize, something for the mantelpiece for everyone," says Galway Bay Sailing Club Commodore, Johnny Shorten, who is my Podcast guest this week.

Podcast here

Published in Galway Harbour
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Grammy award-winning singer Taylor Swift has made contact with one of the two Galway cousins who survived a 15-hour ordeal in Galway Bay after they were swept out to the Atlantic on paddleboards last August.

As The Sunday Times reported, the two cousins Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney had belted out every Taylor Swift song they knew to keep their spirits up.

The American singer has responded with a recent letter and painting which she has sent to Glynn, expressing how moved she is to know about their ordeal.

The Sunday Times also reports that the Irish Coast Guard is currently conducting satellite-tracked trials at sea with inflatables paddleboards to ensure they are included in search mapping software.

It is one of the facts reported in RTÉ’s Documentary on One by Lorna Siggins and Sarah Blake, which was broadcast last night and available on the RTE player.

At that point, the cousins had survived torrential rain, thunder and lightning and heavy seas, and had managed to grab on to floats attached to crab pots set south of Inis Oírr by Aran fisherman Bertie Donohue.

Claddagh fisherman Patrick Oliver and his 18-year-old son Morgan, were already on their way to the location, having judged a north-easterly wind would sweep them diagonally out into the Atlantic.

The internal review has confirmed the women were carried 18.5 nautical miles or over 33 kilometres – not 27 kilometres as initially reported – at an average speed of 2.2 nautical miles an hour.

It records there were a large number of false sightings which had to be checked out by the three Irish Coast Guard helicopters on rotation, along with RNLI Aran and Galway lifeboats and Irish Coast Guard units from Doolin and Costelloe Bay.

Contact was made with the Naval Service at 6 am on Thursday, and a formal request made for a ship at 11.10 am.

The Air Corps was requested at 7 am but the Casa maritime patrol plane was under repair and not available until after 1 pm.

By this time the two women, who were exhausted and hypothermic, were being flown from Inis Oírr to University Hospital, Galway by the Rescue117 Waterford-based Sikorsky S-92.

Read The Sunday Times here

Listen to the RTÉ Doc on One - Miracle in Galway Bay – by Lorna Siggins and Sarah Blake here

Published in Galway Harbour
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Galway Bay has a ring of sailing clubs dotted around the shoreline, says one of the founders of the Galway City Sailing Club, which is marking its 10th year in existence.

It is an impressive grouping of maritime enthusiasts and it was the level of interest amongst the members of Galway Bay Sailing Club at Rinville which got the city club started.

The motivation was to provide dinghy sailing in the city. It began with 31 members and now has a membership closer to 200.

As Afloat previously reported, Galway City Sailing Club started in 2011 with two boats. Now in 2021, celebrating its 10th year of sailing in the city, it has boats include Argos & Picos, Optibats, and a host of boats owned by members with a dinghy park in the harbour to store them plus three supporting ribs in our hanger and a tractor for launching and recovery!

The club was founded, it says "by a group of dinghy sailing enthusiasts from Galway Bay Sailing Club and others to bring sailing into the heart of Galway and who were encouraged and supported by the late Bobby Molloy and by Paul Colleran in the 10 years it took to realise their vision. The Harbour Master; Brian Sheridan; the Harbour Board and John Killeen of Cold Chon generously provided the facilities to give the club a start. Because of this, the club has given many adults and children the opportunity to learn to sail over the past 10 years.

"Central to the ethos of the club has been the emphasis on the preservation of the marine environment and the instruction of the children on the importance of marine ecology. The aim and vision of Galway City Sailing Club continues to be making sailing accessible in the heart of Galway City, a city with a rich sailing heritage. The club sees itself as an integral part of the development of Galway's marine future with enhanced activity on the sea in the heart of Galway, providing sailing for all including for those with disabilities, and providing an attractive spectacle as well as serious training for the city's keen sailor."

One of the founding members was Nancy Roe who is now Club Treasurer and Membership Secretary and is my guest on this week's Podcast.

Podcast here

Published in Tom MacSweeney

The rescue of cousins Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17) after being swept out to sea on paddleboards captured the attention of the country last August. How a balmy summer's evening quickly turned into a nightmare for the cousins' parents onshore, to the quick-witted reaction of the two women to lash the boards together, to the fishermen who realised the initial search was too focused on inner Galway Bay.

A story of endurance as Sara and Ellen survived 15 hours at sea, and the tears of relief among hundreds of volunteers searching the Galway and Clare coastlines and in Galway RNLI lifeboat station, where the volunteer crews have recovered more bodies than most of them care to remember.

When 23-year old NUI Galway graduate Sara Feeney and her 17-year old cousin Ellen Glynn set out for a short spin on paddleboards one evening in mid-August 2020, they only expected to be on the water for a short time.

Covid-19 restrictions had prevented them from going to their closest beach at Silver Strand on north Galway Bay, so they drove out with Sara's mum Helen to Furbo beach, 12 km west of Galway city.

There were swimmers in the water, enjoying the heat in fading light as they pumped up the inflatable boards and took to the water at around 9.30pm.

Sara's mum Helen walked her dog, Otis, along the short shoreline. Within a short space of time she wondered why she couldn't see the cousins on the water.

Little did she know at that time that the two women were shouting and frantically waving their paddles, unable to make it back to shore.

The northerly breeze had turned north-easterly and gained in strength, and the two women had no means of communication – Ellen had forgotten her wet bag that normally carried her mobile phone. They were wearing lifejackets, but no wetsuits – only bikinis – and had no food or water.

Realising they were in danger of being separated, the two women strapped their boards together. Back on shore, Helen Feeney had dialled the emergency services and had been put through to the Irish Coast Guard.

For a time, the two women remained confident that they would be located and were initially only worried about all the trouble they would have caused. As darkness fell and the hours passed, they spotted boats and a helicopter coming close enough to light up the sea around them, but in the vast sea area, they could neither be seen nor heard.

Shooting stars and bioluminescence lifted their spirits briefly, and Ellen sang every Taylor Swift song that she knew. Conditions worsened, with heavy rain. When a lightning storm forced an Irish Coast Guard helicopter to fly off to the north, they knew they would have to try and survive the night. By now, they were clinging to their boards in a heavy swell.

As the fog lifted well after dawn, they realised just how much trouble they were in, with the Cliffs of Mother just south of them, the Aran island of Inis Oírr to the north, and the Atlantic to the west.

They had been carried all of 18 nautical miles or 33 kilometres diagonally across Galway Bay and out into the ocean. A chance sighting of floats attached to crab pots set by Aran fisherman Bertie Donohue saved them from drifting further.

When they were located by Galway fisherman Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan in their catamaran, Johnny Ó, the two women had been the focus of a major air/sea search co-ordinated by Valentia Coast Guard and had spent 15 hours at sea. "We found them, but they saved themselves," Patrick Oliver would say later.

Fishermen Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan located the girlsFishermen Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan located the girls

This documentary features interviews with Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn and their families one year on, speaking also to key people involved in their rescue, recalling how a balmy evening turned into a long, dark terrifying 15 hours that will be remembered as the miracle of Galway Bay.

Narrated by Lorna Siggins

Produced by Lorna Siggins and Sarah Blake

Sound Supervision by John Doyle and Peadar Carney

Available for podcast on Thursday 29th July

Broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday 1st August @ 6pm, Monday 2nd August @ 3pm, and Tuesday 3rd August @ 10pm

Published in Rescue

Ireland's Mirror dinghy fleet had their Western Championships this weekend at Galway Bay Sailing Club last weekend.

A fleet of 24 took to Galway Bay for 6 races over the two days under Race Officer Dave Vinnell in challenging light winds on the Saturday with a nice sea breeze filling in on the Sunday - both days sailed in very high temperatures.

The event also saw many new faces with clubs putting in tremendous logistical arrangements to make it a bumper fleet.

The overall championship winners were Thomas & Ben Chaix of Tralee Bay Sailing Club.

Mirror dinghy competitors at Galway Bay Sailing ClubMirror dinghy competitors at Galway Bay Sailing Club

Silver fleet winners were Matthew Turner & Donncha Dullea of LRYC with 2nd and 3rd placings going to Blessington sailors Alexander Fought & Zoe Hemsing and Lisa & Annika Flynn respectively.

Bronze fleet winners were Lucas Flynn & Adam Stanley of BSC. Second was Conal MacThreinfhir & William Walsh of TBSC with third going to Cora McNaughton & Sinead Evans of BSC.

Youth winners of the inaugural Killinure Cup and 2nd overall was Eoghan Duffy LRYC & Cathal Langan CYBC with third place going to Jessica & Mark Greer of Sligo Yacht Club.

The next event is the Nationals in Sligo Yacht Club on Aug 20-22.

Published in Mirror
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One of Ireland’s longest one-day sea swimming events will extend over a month this year, as the annual Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim goes “virtual” again.

The event in aid of Cancer Care West, which is now in its 16th year, raised a record-breaking 185,000 euro in 2020 when it was re-imagined to meet Covid-19 restrictions.

It would normally see 150 people crossing the bay one day in July, swimming 13km solo or in relay teams from Aughinish, Co Clare to Salthill’s Blackrock diving tower.

Since the swim began 15 years ago, a total of 740 people have transited the bay.

As with last year’s format, participants are encouraged to swim a total of 13km during the month of August – which can be broken up, and can take place anywhere in the world.

“The swim is much more than a fundraiser; it's the swimming highlight for so many across Ireland,” Cancer Care West director Brian Thornton has explained.

“Last year, the swimming community in Ireland and swimmers around the world as far as Australia took to the water and made the 2020 Galway Bay Swim one we truly will never forget, for all the right reasons,” he says.

“ We would naturally love to be swimming the bay in one day but until we can do this safely, this month-long event allows everyone to be part of something so positive,” he says.

"The monies raised will help fund support services for cancer patients and their families through our support centres ” he adds.

All year round swimmer Paddy McNamara says the event gives an opportunity to swimmers of all abilities to do something special for Cancer Care West.

“This challenge can be completed anywhere in the world so it would be great to see a local and international element to the event," he says.

Participants are asked to raise €100 for Cancer Care West and those who complete the challenge qualify for a Galway Bay Swim t-shirt and a branded swim cap.

Registration is open now here

Published in Sea Swim
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