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Photo: Pat Biesty

Wind in the sails of Clare sailing club

THERE was wind in the sails of some of Ireland’s leading dinghy racers this weekend on Lake Cullane, outside. Kilkishen. 

Traditionally all dinghy sailing events cease for the year in October with only the hardiest competing in what is known as “the frostbite series”. However, given the impact of Covid on every facet of our life over the last two years, it’s not surprise that it upset that schedule too. 

Cullaun Sailing Club had been scheduled to host the GP14 Munster championships in May of this year, but as the time drew closer it became more and more apparent that it would not be possible to host an event that attracts some of the top sailors and boats from all corners of the country. A decision was made to postpone and reschedule until November. 

Last weekend saw 40 sailors arrive in Kilkishen and the surrounding areas, all set for those who took part said turned out to be a tumultuous event with the wildest and the most beautiful of weather, some great sailing, and some great sport. 

Saturday saw wild winds gusting strongly across the lake challenging all competitors to their limits and providing the fleet with some of the best heavy weather sailing of the season. This was followed on Sunday by lighter trickier winds, and sunshine, which changed the dynamic of the regatta as well as the leader board as the sailing went from survival of the fittest to a serious tactical battle.

In the end the race was won by Alan Blay from Sutton with Katie Dwyer from Sutton coming a close second and JP and Carolyn McCaldin from Lough Ern coming third. Sam and Matthew Street from Blessington took junior honours. 

“Sailing is a strange game and a sport that does not stop at a certain age,” said Des Mc Mahon GP14 sailor and ex Commadore of Cullaun Sailing Club.

Des who is currently a member of the club said is also a representative on the GP14 Ireland Committee.

“It always demands a certain level of fitness, but it rewards experience and this is demonstrated in a fleet that has an age difference of nearly six decades between the youngest and the oldest in the same fleet. All of whom are fighting hard to be first across the start and the first across the finish.”

For those involved, the social side of sailing is just as important as the competitive side and the fleet were looked after by Noreen Gallagher in Gallagher’s pub in Kilkishen on Saturday night and catered to by Carmel Cronin. “Although all Covid protocols still exist, the hospitality and the welcome ensured that there was a sense that we might be returning to some sort of normality sooner rather than later,” Des said.

“Cullaun Sailing Club is a small club located between Kilkishen and Tulla, with a small and active membership and a sense of pride in where its from and what it can achieve. It is about sailing, participation, competing, learning, and teaching, but it is always proud of the place it is from and the community that it is a part of.

“That pride is well founded when you witness the hospitality and the effort put in by everyone, not just the club, over the weekend to make this event the success it was.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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