The annual Cong Galway Boat Race, sponsored by Ashford Estate, took place last weekend against a backdrop of challenging weather conditions.
Taking the top spot this year were Yannick and Seán Lemonnier of Galway Bay Sailing Club, making it three-in-a-row for the father and son duo, who won a luxurious night at the 5-star Ashford Castle for their skilled sailing endeavours.
Second place was awarded to Gary Mangan and Thomas Mills of Blessington Sailing Club, who won a night at sister hotel, The Lodge at Ashford.
Setting off a day later than planned, the high winds and choppy water didn’t put racegoers off, with a bumper fleet of 40 boats registered for the competition. There was strong representation from local clubs including Corrib Rowing and Yachting Club, Cumann Seoltóireachta an Spidéil, Galway City Sailing Club and Galway Bay Sailing Club.
The longest inland boat race in Europe, The Cong Galway Boat Race started in the picturesque shadow of Ashford Castle at the northern end of Lough Corrib and followed the old steamer route to the city of Galway. Strong winds greeted the competitive fleet as they set off from Lisloughrey Pier. There were very few dry sailors as the boats picked up speed from the windward mark and made their way to the halfway point at Kilbeg.
First across the line at Kilbeg Pier were Yannick and Seán Lemonnier in a time of 54 minutes and 34 seconds, pipping Gary Mangan and Thomas Mills by 28 seconds. Amongst the larger boats, Cóilín Óg Hernon led the way in the gleoiteog Asurnaí, ahead of the Manta 19 of Connor Little and the second gleoiteog, Anam Cara, where Jonathan Curran was at the helm.
After a well-earned break at Kilbeg, the boats faced into the tricky, twisty narrow channel to the lower lake. With no sign of the winds abating, there were several altercations between rock and boat, with the rocks invariably coming out better. After navigating the lower lake and moving into the river Corrib, competitors quickly made their way to the finish line with help of favourable winds.
The winners in the dinghy fleet were determined based on the Portsmouth handicap scheme with Yannick and Seán Lemonnier of Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC ) awarded first place. As the overall winners, Yannick and Sean were presented with the CRYC trophy as well as a stay in Ashford Castle, presented by Paula Carroll, Director of Sales and Marketing, Ashford Castle and The Lodge at Ashford.
Second place, and winner of a stay in the Lodge at Ashford, was Gary Mangan of Blessington Sailing Club and his crew Thomas Mills. The prize was presented by Peter Fergus, Hotel Manager of the Lodge at Ashford.
Third place and first monohull was awarded to Rob Talbot of Cumann Seoltóireachta an Spidéil and NUIG alongside his crew, Rian De Bairéad of Galway City Sailing Club.
First gleoiteog /cruiser was awarded to Asurnaí, skippered by Coilín Óg Hernon of the Galway Hooker Sailing Club.