Against the backdrop of the dominant regatta of the season in Dun Laoghaire, organisers on the west coast still managed to stage their own championship series albeit with some lessons learnt for 2024.
On a far more exposed stretch of the island, the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) held their annual regatta drawing entries from eight venues to the very central Inis Mór where Galway Bay Sailing Club acted as host organisers.
Although 40 boats entered the series, 10 were hampered from joining the fleet by weather conditions which also forced the cancellation of two of the four planned days of racing.
Three inshore courses were however sailed as well as the important coastal race that serves as the offshore requirement for the event.
“People will remember it [the coastal race] for all the right reasons – it had everything including a beat, a reach and a run over a distance of 18 to 20 miles,” commented WIORA Commodore Raymond McGibney.
Sailing on home waters, it may have been little surprise that GBSC boats took a sizeable share of the silverware including the overall trophy won by John Collins on Ibarki while Foynes Yacht Club had the highest prize count of all the clubs represented.
There were two under-25 crews representing Sligo and Galway and it seems that the younger cohort may present an option for a conundrum that has so far proved hard to solve – that of how to share the staging venue for the ICRA national championships to the west coast more often.
Although successfully sailed in Fenit ten years ago, and an attempt was made in Galway Docks which proved too experimental, the challenge has simply been getting large boats from other coasts to the west.
Aside from cost, delivery to and from a west coast venue could cost a few weeks of time even assuming that sufficient delivery crews would be available. Add to that mix the uncertainty of weather delays as witnessed this year for WIORA and clearly there is a problem, whether for west coast boats going south and east and vice versa.
But boats that can be road-trailed have fewer restrictions and the venerable J24 is proving ideal for the youth and Under 25 crews.
“We recommend the J24 as it’s the pathway boat from dinghies to bigger keelboats,” commented McGibney. “Already this season, Mayo and Kilrush are planning to purchase J24′s for their own U25 programmes.”
As for the issue of moving bigger boats, that’s harder to solve but perhaps the Under 25 championship could rotate more easily.
“There’s no obvious solution but we’re working on it,” said McGibney who is also actively promoting inclusion within the WIORA fleet.
Meanwhile, learning from potential fixtures list clashes for 2024, the next WIORA date has been set for the middle of June next that will be hosted by Foynes.
Overall Winner IRC – Ita McGibney Cup: Ibaraki, John Collins (Galway Bay Sailing Club)
Overall Winner Class 1 IRC – Clifford Cup: Ibaraki, J Collins (GBSC)
Overall Class 2 IRC – Charlie McGibney Cup – Scorpio, Mark Wilson (GBSC)
Overall Class 2 ECHO – Yachtzee, Diarmuid Donavan (Foynes Yacht Club)
J/24 – Yachtzee, Diarmuid Donavan (FYC)
Whitesails Overall – Poitin, Bev Lowes (FYC)
Whitesail Class 5 – Disaray, Ray Mc Gibney (FYC)
Whitesails Class 6 – Poitin, B Lowes (FYC)
X Cup – Elixir, Patrick Aylward (Mullaghmore Sailing Club)
IRC Coastal – the Aki Cup: HiJinks; Brian Forde (GBSC)
BJ Marine Trophy: Movita – Con Lavelle (MSC)