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Sharing the passion for sailing - the Mayo experience

by Daria Blackwell/Sail-World on 16 May 2014
Preparing to go .. .
How much does YOUR sailing club do about attracting new sailors/members? Sharing the passion for sailing is perhaps one of the vital roles of a sailing club, and here's what the Mayo Sailing Club has been doing about it. Asking 'Where's Mayo?' Read on...

For two weeks in a row, Mayo Sailing Club in Mayo County in the remote west of Ireland (only remote if you don't hail from there) has exposed loads of new people to sailing and fun on the water. If the smiles and peals of laughter are any gauge, the effort has been quite the success.



May Bank Holiday week end, a number of the club’s boats sailed off to Inishturk to visit this very special island for the weekend. They brought with them a fleet of sailing dinghies and a rescue rib, along with life jackets, and instructors – everything needed to get the islanders safely out on the water.

Despite dire forecasts, the weather cooperated with the winds decreasing and rain holding off through the afternoon on Saturday. As the sailboats anchored and moored in the harbour, the dinghies were brought over on a trailer by ferry. The dinghies were rigged around noon and Inishturk resident children and adults were given the opportunity to try sailing under the supervision of experienced sailors in the magnificent harbour.



Mayo Sailing Club Commodore Eoghan Cunningham ran a tight programme and operated the rib, which facilitated crew changes out on the water and allowed him to keep a close eye on the sailors and assist when needed. The buzz in the Community Club house afterwards was electric. Exuberant young sailors told their stories to parents and friends while the cruisers listened in and rejoiced over the new passion instilled.



The success of this inaugural venture means that the dinghies will be brought out to other islands scheduled as stopovers for the Mayo Sailing Club fleet during the course of the summer. The next cruise in company is to Clare Island and takes place June Bank Holiday weekend. As always, non-members are very welcome to join in.

On Sunday 11 May, Mayo Sailing Club opened its doors in Rosmoney to welcome non-members for a day of family fun out on the water. The dinghy fleet was once again brought out and rigged allowing guests to try sailing for the first time with experienced sailors at the helm. This time, the larger cruising sailboats were also at the ready on the pontoon and took anyone interested in sailing on a ‘big’ boat out onto Clew Bay.



Fast ribs were also available to take visitors on a thrilling spin. Adventure Islands provided lessons in their new archery offering on club grounds. A free barbeque meal and hot showers ended the day on a high note. Once again the weather gods cooperated with (mostly) sunshine and (mostly) gentle breezes after a week of high winds and heavy rains.

Liam Mac Réamoinn, Junior Organiser, expressed his thanks to all those who helped make Sail Spree such a success.  The exciting day prompted the Committee to decide to open the sailing club to its members every Sunday afternoon at 3 pm for dinghy sailing. The fleet of dinghies will be available for rental to club members at nominal hourly rates to cover the cost of repairs. Mayo Sailing Club now have more ways you can join and get out on the water without even owning a boat.

About Mayo Sailing Club:

Established in 1976 to promote sailing in Clew Bay and the West of Ireland, Mayo Sailing Club (MSC) has earned a solid reputation in both cruising and racing. There are currently more than 250 members taking part in various on-the-water activities during the season. Activities include a youth sail training programme, dinghy racing, cruising boat racing, and cruising. On the competitive racing front, members have taken part and performed at the top of class in open events along the west coast and beyond, including the Round Ireland Race and the World Student Yachting Championships. On the cruising front, many members actively cruise the challenging waters of the West coast, while more adventurous souls venture to Europe, across the Atlantic, around the world, and even to the remote regions of the Arctic and Antarctic. Training on these local waters of the wild Atlantic prepares intrepid MSC sailors to sail anywhere.

With a beautiful clubhouse that has stunning views on the shores of Westport Bay, MSC offers sheltered moorings, a pontoon laid on with water and electricity, a slipway and hardstand, boat shed for storing outboards and other equipment, a secure area for stowing dinghies, bar and social room open on race days, comfortable changing rooms with toilets and showers, as well as three rescue boats and one race committee boat. Located just 10 minutes from Westport town.

Mayo Sailing Club members have been very active and successful on the racing and cruising circuit and have been attracting attention on a nationwide and global scale.

This year, the Western Sailing Championships (WIORA: http://wiora.org/ ) are coming to MSC and will be sailed on magnificent Clew Bay the last week of July. This is a big event and will provide quite a spectacle on the Bay. Mayo Sailing Club is honoured to be the host of such a prestigious event.

Visit the Mayo Sailing Club website for more details (www.mayosailingclub.com).

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