A team of Kerry-native sailors took ultimate glory at a prestigious offshore racing competition in Kilrush over a challenging-but-rewarding weekend.
Tadhg Ó Loinsigh’s Janx Spirit crew – all members of which hail from Kerry – won Class 3 of the WIORA West Coast Championships, but when each boat’s performance across the four classes went through the competition formula, the team took the overall prize also.
The crew – which also included Tralee’s Michael Magowan and Listowel’s Paddy Cunnane, Stephen Cunnane, and Conor Dillon – travelled to Clare for the weekend’s competition, taking part in three races in that time. Conditions were challenging – Saturday’s racing had to be called off – but it was well worth the toil.
“We raced around a course set by the officer of the day,” Tadhg told The Kerryman. “We had two races of the same length on Friday and a long, three-hour race on Sunday.
“We won all our races on the water, but due to the handicapping system, we were placed second in the first race by one second.
“It’s not the kind of thing we’d usually compete in, we race one-design normally, where all the boats competing are the same, but we do the WIORA whenever it’s on. For West of Ireland boats, it’s probably about as big a competition as you’ll get.”
While all five members are experienced sailors, this crew has been together for almost a year. All are members of Tralee Bay Sailing Club – with the exception of Conor Dillon, who’s attached to the Foynes Yacht Club – and there was no shortage of club interest across the classes at the weekend. Indeed, the winners were level with Tralee club member Fergus Kelliher’s boat heading into the final race.
While it was a sweet win for the Kerry team, there’ll be little rest as they head for Plymouth in the coming days to compete in the UK Nationals, a one-design event.
“Same crew, but Brian Fox will return, he’s our regular bowman,” Tadhg said. “He’s from Tralee and is also a Tralee Bay Sailing Club member.
“It’s our first time going to the UK nationals. Sure it’s the biggest event for our boat type in the UK every year, so I’d be expecting 30 to 40 boats. To be honest with you, we don’t have an idea of how we’d like to do, but I’d say a top 10 finish would be doing quite well.”