18th December

A spectacle of sail expected for the ‘Gathering Cruise’

Described as a ‘unique event’, the Irish Sailing Association and Gathering Ireland 2013 are organising a cruise involving 100 boats and 600-strong crew that will sail in company down the east and south coasts of Ireland. The flotilla will be joined en route by boats from feeder ports in the UK, Europe and America. 
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Arriving at gateway ports, boats will be greeted by Gathering Welcome Ambassadors and local communities. They will then join the flotilla that left Dublin on July 13 as it sails southwards to assemble in Kinsale, Co Cork, before heading westward along the West Cork and Kerry coastline for a major farewell gathering in Dingle on August 1.

“The Gathering Cruise offers the ISA the chance to promote Ireland’s beautiful natural amenities, spectacular coastline, unspoilt harbours and the warm welcome of coastal villages and towns,” remarked CEO, Harry Harmon.

“We look forward to working with The Gathering Ireland 2013 to welcome the Irish sailing diaspora back to our shores. In recent years, we have proved ourselves to be one of the world’s foremost sailing destinations with a lot to offer the international sailing community. ‘The Gathering Cruise’ offers another superb opportunity to showcase this,” he said.

Acknowledging the input sailing has to the Irish tourism industry, Jim Miley, Project Director of The Gathering Ireland 2013 said the project forms a “key part” of the year-long calendar.

“It captures what the year is about: bringing people who have an interest or a link to Ireland to be part of it.”

Damian Foxall, Ireland’s most accomplished international racing sailor, says the event provides an “incredible opportunity” for sailing enthusiasts of all levels to get involved in a really exciting sailing spectacle.

Foxall knows what to expect. Last July he sailed up Ireland’s west to a greeted by bonfires burning on the Aran Islands and a 20,000 strong crowd that lined the Galway quays after nine-months at sea and 40,000 miles travelled along with Groupama sailing teammates as part of Volvo Ocean Race 2012. 

“Sailing with a flotilla and being part of the Gathering Ireland 2013, promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  There’ll be something for everyone,” he added. “If you want to hit all the marinas and have a sort of luxury holiday around the coast, that’s possible. On the other hand it can be something totally different, where you drop anchor in a secluded port and you’re on your own; or, anchor up with a few buddies and get the barbecue on the back of the boat. We have some of the best cruising grounds in the world.”

The Gathering Cruise is organised by The Irish Sailing Association with support of the Irish Marine Federation, the Irish Marina Operators’ Association, Irish Boat Rental Association, Irish Sea Marine Leisure Knowledge Network, the Cruising Association of Ireland and Irish Cruising Club.

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