Indeed, sailing activities are still going strong at the East Clare lake as last weekend saw boats take to the water for the 28th Cullaun Annual Regatta where two days of exciting and close racing was held. Courses laid by officer of the day, Chris Davis of Clarecastle, ensured a high calibre of racing for the entire fleet, which began on Saturday morning, when conditions were dry with moderate winds, which steadily increased as the day progressed.
As Saturday’s racing drew to a close, it was clear that Doon man Chris Caher in his Supernova had shown his dominance with three wins out of four races. Caher was closely followed by Margaret Hynes of Manus and Emmet O’Mahony of Kilkishen in the Wayfarer. Racing for third was very tight after day one with numerous boats in contention.
After battling the elements and the water and in keeping with tradition, the racing fleet retired to Donnellan’s in Kilkishen where, as always, a warm welcome was awaiting them.
Sailing resumed on a wet and windy Sunday morning but despite the adverse conditions, the challenge was embraced by all involved. The strong winds, however, did take their toll on the bodies and boats participating in the regatta but rescue boats for both days, crewed by club members, ensured the safety of all involved.
For a finish, Chris Caher came out on top for the second year running and Agnes McCarthy, proprietor of Donellan’s, presented him with the Donnellan Perpetual Trophy 2009 on Sunday evening.
Chris has been sailing with the Cullaun Sailing club for many years and was glad to be keeping the trophy for another year and, no doubt, will be going for three in-a-row next year.
At the presentation, special tribute was paid to Nancy Donnellan who passed away earlier this year and who was very much a part of Cullaun Sailing Club since its foundation. Nancy and Pat Donnellan made everyone feel very welcome. Margaret Hynes recalled fond memories of Nancy and told those present how Nancy would drive up to the lake to count how many sailors were on the water so she would know how many scones to have ready.
In the overall standing, Chris Caher of Doon took first place, followed by Darragh McCarthy, Blackwater, in second, and Margaret Hynes, Meanus and Emmet O’Mahoney, Kilkishen, in third.
In the Enterprise Fleet, first place went to Tom McHugh, Raheen and Phillip McHugh Raheen, Catriona Murphy Old Cratloe Road. Second place went to Colm Ward, Ballinacurra and Lelia O’Shaughnessy, New Street with Corrane Heffernan, Dooradoyle and Mikey Halton, Castletroy.
Furthermore, in the Wayfarer Fleet, first place went to Margaret Hynes and Emmet O’Mahony, second to Austin Collins, Shannon and Leo Keohane, Shannon.
Speaking about the regatta sailing secretary Darragh McCarthy said, “Cullaun Lake is a very safe lake for sailing due to it’s size and location. Wind conditions on the lake are very rarely in excess of 10knts. As we looked out on the lake we realised that we were going to have strong winds for the day and that the calibre of sailors that had turned up for racing would make it a tough weekend on the water. It’s one of the great things about sailing; the minute you hit the water that is what you are thinking about, not work, not organisation, not having to be anywhere else just sailing. With a fresh to strong breeze for the day every sailor revelled in these unusual conditions with some amazing speeds and thrill and spills achieved. One lapse in concentration in those conditions could find you in the water with your boat capsized and it did to the majority of us over the two days. At no stage during the two days even down to the last lap were the results decided and that really kept people fighting until the end.
“The excitement could be felt when discussions took place ashore as to the events of the days racing. Although bodies and minds were exhausted spirits were high. Sunday saw another serving of adrenaline with winds even higher again. It made for very fast and tiring racing”. Located on the shore of the Lough Cullaunyheeda (Cullaun Lake) in the heart of East Clare, Cullaun Sailing Club first began sailing from Cullaun house on the west shore of the lake in the late 1970s as they tried to identify a new home for sailing events. But it was not until 1981 that the club decided to put something firmly in place here. After a constitution was drawn up the Cullaun Sailing Club officially came into being.
It is a very active dinghy sailing club, with a fleet comprising mainly of Enterprise, Wayfarer and Laser dinghies and it current has six club boats including two Wayfarers, one Enterprise dinghy and three rescue craft.
Since its inception, a beach has been formed on the west shore of the lake and a channel was cut through the reeds. In 1983, President Patrick Hillary opened new facilities where the club calls home today.
In the mid 1990s, there was a lot of sailing activity at the club with the well-established home events and class away events. But unfortunately, the Killaloe, Loughrea and Galway Bay SC dinghy activity died out in the mid to late 1990s and Cullaun Sailing Club stood alone maintaining enthusiastic activity in the area.
With safety of utmost importance in the club, a second rescue boat was purchased in 1996 and it gave the club the capacity to hold events without having to borrow them.
Cullaun has maintained its activity undoubtedly due to the enthusiasm of its members and the encouragement given to new sailors to get into the sport.
Further activities are planned on the lake over the coming months with The Cooler Series due to begin on September 20, which will consist of racing every Sunday until November 1. This promises to be an exciting event with plenty of wind and great racing.
To find out more about the club or about upcoming events please visit www.cullaunsailingclub.com.