A scene from the Great Glen Raid
Ireland is to have its own Raid in September this year – writer, photographer and ex-Classic Boat editor Nic Compton has written to tell us about it:
‘Since the first Raid was created in Portugal in 1997, the idea of racing and cruising in company in small open boats has spread from continent to continent. Similar Albacore-Dacmar-organised events have been staged in Scotland, Sweden, Finland, Holland, Italy and the USA, with the latest event organised by WoodenBoat magazine in Maine attracting more than 50 entries.
‘Now the original French creators of the concept are back with an event in one of the most beautiful and unspoilt corners of Europe. The first Lakelands & Inland Waterways Ireland Sailing Raid will take place on the Shannon River in September 2012, and promises to be the raid with the most craic.
‘For anyone new to the concept, the idea of a Raid is to gather a fleet of small open boats – usually traditionally-inspired, though not necessarily wood, and usually under 24ft long – and send them off on a series of passage races, exploring scenic areas. There are one or two racing legs per day – either under sail alone or under sail and oar – and a different stopover every night.
‘The Lakelands & Inland Waterways Ireland Sailing Raid will take place over seven days, from the 14th to the 21st September, and cover 120 miles of the most delightful riverain scenery Ireland has to offer – from the tranquility of Lough Erne in Northern Ireland, across the border through the Shannon River (the longest river in the British Isles) to the great lakes of Lough Ree and Lough Derg. The event will finish with a big knees-up in the picturesque town of Killaloe.
‘There will be a wide range of boats from all over Europe taking part. The events have stimulated a resurgence of small boat racing/cruising designs, and the Open Class is likely to feature vessels by luminary designers and builders such as Iain Oughtred, Swallow Boats, François Vivier and Gilles Montaubin. The requirements in this class are deliberately ‘open’, featuring traditional designs or types, as well as recently-built boats inspired by tradition (or not), using traditional or modern materials.
‘For the first time, two one-design classes will race in this event: the Morgan Giles-designed Shannon One-Design (SOD), which boasts the biggest fleet of traditional boats in Ireland, and the historic Water Wags, at 125 years old the oldest one-design class in the world. Both classes race regularly on the Shannon, and a few boats will be available to sail either as bare boat or co-skippering – but make sure you book early, as these places are extremely limited.
‘To ensure complete ‘immersion’ in the event, accommodation will be available in motor cruisers, while others will be able to camp by the river or make other arrangements. The shared experience of these events usually forges strong friendships among those taking part, and lively evening gatherings are a feature of most raids. Few who attended the dinner in the old lifeboat station on Sweden’s southernmost island during the 2003 Blekinge Archipelago Raid, with the gale outside buffeting the wooden structure, will ever forget that experience.
‘The entry fee for the event is €475 per boat. In addition, accommodation is available on the accompanying motor cruisers at a rate of €390-480 per head for the week. Special rates are available for anyone wanting to hire an entire boat for family and friends.’
Photographs from previous Raids in Portugal, Sweden and Scotland: