Highlight of the cruiser racing season in Donegal Bay was the Northwest Offshore Racing Association (NORA) Championships 2015, which was jointly hosted by Mullaghmore Sailing Club, Killybegs Sailing Club and Sligo Yacht Club on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Funded by a three way partnership of Donegal County Council, IPB and Failte Ireland, the event took place over a two week period from 24 July to 8 August in the MalinWaters and was hailed as a great success.
The event began in Mullaghmore with the Mullaghmore Regatta. The fleets were split into spinnaker-flying, and white sails fleets. 17 boats took to the water in perfect weather conditions – steady breezes and sunshine. The festival atmosphere extended onshore in Mullaghmore with the sailing club hosting a ‘pig on a spit’ dinner for sailors and supporters which was a huge success. After this regatta, SYC boats were to the fore, with Martin Reilly’s ‘Crazy Horse’ leading followed by Ken Draper, sailing Gerry Brady’s J24 “Gossip”. Killybegs was well represented with Jonathan Kennedy’s ‘After Hours’ winning the white sails trophy for the Regatta.
On the following Friday, there was a pursuit race from Mullaghmore to Killybegs in County Donegal. Again it looked like SYC boats were going to take all the podium positions, but a smart tactical move by MSC’s Brody Sweeney sailing ‘An tOileanach’, saw him take a wider line and sail past the J24s and cross the line in Killybegs harbour first.
Saturday and Sunday racing for the Killybegs regatta took place in strong winds which challenged all skippers and crew with some thrilling close quarter racing in the tight racing area. Three races were held on Saturday as the forecast did not look at all good for Sunday. Saturday racing was from the docks to the approach mark to the entrance of the harbour.
On Sunday with a change of wind direction, the fleet raced outside the harbour. Gerry Gilligan took over helming duties on-board Gossip and performed very well to finish in second place to Martin Reilly’s “Crazy Horse”. Third place was closely contested by John Buckley’s “Jota” and Michael Carvill’s “Lazy Bones”. Michael took third place by virtue of having won one of the races.
The planned race from Killybegs to Rosses Point had to be abandoned due to the weather conditions, so the fleet made their way to the Point whenever suited them for the final stage of NORA 2015 – the Memory Harbour Regatta.
Friday evening in the Rosses Point saw racing abandoned due to lack of wind. So 3 races were held on Saturday to a fitting climax for NORA 2015. Kevin Collins was again OD, and set a windward-leeward course, then an Olympic course, and finally a windward-leeward course with very close racing throughout the fleets.
Winner of the Memory Harbour Regatta was John Buckley’s “Jota”. The overall spinnaker fleet winner of NORA 2015 was Ken Draper helming “Gossip”, while Martin Reilly’s “Crazy Horse” won on IRC handicap system. Second place was taken by MSC’s Michael Carvill’s “Lazy Bones”. Overall winner of the white sails fleet for the second consecutive year was Jonathan Kennedy and crew on ‘All Hours’.