Dart Invaders Conquer Cong
Updated: Aug 26
It was a day for the Darts at the annual Cong-Galway sailing race, with Yannick and Seán Lemonnier of Galway Bay Sailing Club making it three in a row, bagging themselves a luxurious night in Ashford Castle for their efforts. They were pushed all the way this year in a ding-dong battle with Gary Mangan of Blessington Sailing Club and his crew, Thomas Mills. Asurnaí was first of the larger boats. This historic race, the oldest and longest inland sailing race in Europe, was made extra special this year with a number of historic boats joining the large fleet from all across the west of Ireland. These included a Shannon One Design and two gleoiteogs from the Galway Hooker Sailing Club.
A bumper fleet of 40 boats, representing clubs from as far afield as Cullaun, Blessington, Cliften, Mayo and Lough Ree, set out from Lisloughrey into very challenging conditions on the upper lake. For the first time in a number of years, there was a cruiser race as well as a dinghy PY race, in another return to tradition. The wind was strong and squally as the boats sailed out to the start line in the shadow of Ashford Castle. However, the sun emerged from behind a blanket of rain in time for the start.
Nevertheless, there were very few dry sailors as the boats picked up speed at the windward mark and started on a long reach to Kilbeg with spray flying in the swell. First across the line at Kilbeg 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. Having cleared the hazards, the lower lake was another fast stretch, with the long reach particularly suiting the Darts.
Mercifully, the breeze held up even in the shelter of the river and competitors were spared the usual lull below Bushypark. Walkers along the riverbank at Dangan looked on in bemusement as crews struggled to keep spinnakers set in the shifty airs. First across the finish line at Dangan were David Carberry and Cian Walsh in their F18, with Asurnaí again taking the honours amongst the gleoiteogs.
A summary of the results is as follows:
Overall winner, and winner of the stay in Ashford Castle, presented by Paula Carroll of Ashford Castle:
Yannick and Seán Lemonnier of Galway Bay Sailing Club
2nd position, and winner of a stay in the Lodge at Ashford, presented by Peter Fergus, Hotel Manager of the Lodge at Ashford:
Gary Mangan of Blessington Sailing Club with Thomas Mills
3rd place and first monohull:
Rob Talbot of Cumann Seoltóireachta an Spidéil and NUIG with Rian De Bairéad of Galway City Sailing Club
First gleoiteog / cruiser:
Asurnaí skippered by Coilin Og Hernon of the Galway Hooker Sailing Club
The organising clubs would like to express their gratitude to race sponsors Ashford Castle and the Lodge at Ashford, race officer David Vinnell and his team, safety officer Mark Francis and his team, Ciaran Oliver and the Galway Hooker Association and everyone who contributed to ensuring the continued success of this unique and historic sailing occasion.
Full results can be found here:
A selection of photographs can be found here: