Sailors’ weather test conditions at the annual Spiddal Regatta in Galway Bay


A fleet of 28 dinghies traveled to Galway Bay for the annual Cumann Seoltóireachta and Spidéil regatta this weekend.

Despite cool southerly winds and sporadic rains, eight hardy Optimist sailors completed a series of three races on a course set by racing officer Stephen O’Gorman.

Rian Baynes of the Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) won the Optimist category, while second place also went to a GBSC sailor, Killian Mathieu, and third to his teammate Sean Lemonnier.

Niamh Baynes of GBSC took fourth place, and the first sailor of the CSS club was Sarah Donald who recorded fifth place overall.

CSS Optimist sailors Realtín Boinnard, Padraic Halliday and Séadhna Ní Thuairisg also braved the conditions, with Boinnard and Halliday placing second and third in the club.

Conditions improved further by the afternoon when the mixed fleet took to the water, requiring a series of quick tackings to clear the boulder-strewn coastal edge of Spiddal.

An elite team assisted the visiting dinghies, with the rollercoaster launch off Sean Céibh’s beach proving to be quite a sight from shore.

The classes for the mixed fleet series were 420 / Laser 1 and Pico / Topaz.

There were several capsizes in test conditions over three timed races, with a fourth race requiring two laps of the course.

The first boat in the general classification with corrected time was a GBSC 420 piloted by Adam McGrady and Ally O’Sullivan.

CSS sailors Mac O’Brien and Eoghan Breathnach took second place in a 420, closely followed in third by a Galway City Sailing Club (GCSC) 420 crew of Colm Ó Fatharta and Rian de Bairéad.

CSS boats dominated the Pico / Topaz class, with James Harvey and Charlie Donald in the lead, Aoife Ni Choncubhair and Hooriya Awan in second, and Sarah Donald and Padraic Halliday in third.

The awards for the first three CSS club boats of the mixed fleet went to O’Brien and Breathnach, Cathal and Méabh Mahon, and Orlaith and Liam Cahill – all sailing 420s.

GBSC Dart 16 sailors Laurik and Killian Mathieu crossed the bay for the race, while Galway City Sailing Club Topper sailors Ava McCarthy and Ava Halpin also competed – putting in some very interesting performances.

Last year, CSS launched a new annual award in memory of the late sea kayaker, mountaineer and circuit court judge John Hannan, who died in February 2020.

The Hannan Trophy, a dinghy-shaped piece of glassware on bog oak, was designed and made by Sue Donnellan’s glass craft design studio in An Ceardlann, An Spidéal.

This year’s award was presented by Marcus Hannan to the CSS 420 duo of Mac O’Brien and Eoghan Breathnach, who were the first home club boat.

Speaking at the awards show, Marcus Hannan paid a special tribute written by his mother, Stephanie Adams, who was the CSS sailing training organizer for many years before the family returned to their native Australia in 2020.

CSS Commodore Dave Cahill paid his own tribute to all the Sailors, Visiting Clubs and Shore and RIB Safety Boat teams who were essential to the smooth running of the event.

CSS, founded in 2002, does not have a clubhouse, but was recently dubbed “the coolest place to sail” by Irish Olympic competition Sean Waddilove.