Calves Week takes place in West Cork in Ireland every year around the first bank holiday in August; the three Calf islands give the regatta its name, and it is a celebration of yachting in a beautiful part of Ireland where everybody is welcome to join in what ever their ability or style of yacht. The competitors view some spectacular scenery along the awe inspiring west coast of Ireland and visit some idyllic towns on remote islands.
The 2009 regatta programme is:
Friday 31st July: Crosshaven / Fastnet / Schull (Overnight)
Saturday August 1st: Kinsale to Schull whitesail
Sunday August 2nd: Schull to Baltimore Race
Monday August 3th: Baltimore Regatta
Tuesday August 4th: Offshore Trophy Race
Wednesday August 5th: Cape Clear Island Fun Regatta
Thursday August 6th: Coastal Trophy race
Friday August 7th: Schull / Fastnet Rock / Crookhaven
Saturday August 8th: Crookhaven Regatta
As a youth, Eoin Leahy spent many of his summer holidays in Schull and some of his earliest sailing experience was gained at Calves Week. Eoin now competes in a huge variety of events, including twice representing Ireland in the Rolex Commodores' Cup with Conor and Denise Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice.
Leahy has competed at Calves Week fourteen times. "Calves Week takes place in an area of about 20 square miles in a really picturesque location dotted with islands; it is very well attended and some of the best Irish boats compete every year but people tend to take it not quite as seriously as Cork Week or the IRC Nationals. Many people stay on board but there is a flotilla of boats and RIBS which follow the fleet and take people back to Schull. Most of the boats do all of the events, but there is no pressure to sail every day.
It is so much fun, many towns close off their main street and you can wander from pub to pub soaking up the scenery. Every place you go there is a great welcome, a really relaxed atmosphere and a lot of history; whilst the yachts are out racing in Schull and Baltimore, there are rowing races which go back 100s of years. Calves Week is very much part of the history of West Cork but the event also attracts boats from all over Ireland: many Dublin based boats come down just for the event. Also the area is full of wildlife: seals, dolphins and even whales are often in sight of the boats."
Raced under IRC, the fleets are split into classes of roughly the same speed and size of yacht. There are few foreign boats but they would be most welcome, the competitors and locals welcome visitors from abroad with open arms. Last year there were 70 boats ranging from small, family sailed day boats to Mariner's Cove, a custom Mills 39 and other larger cruisers.
Schull is one of the loveliest villages in West Cork, the prevailing southwesterly winds blow over more than two thousand miles of open sea and the air is marvelously clear and clean. The safe and welcoming harbour is a perfect base for competitors at Calves Week and there are numerous pubs and restaurants in the town. Baltimore is a busy fishing village and also has a safe harbour, and there are spectacular views of Roaringwater Bay, where most of the racing takes place. Cape Clear is Ireland's most southerly island and has a population of just 120 people. Many of the competitors race to Cape Clear in fancy dress, especially those sailors who enter the Miss Cape Clear Competition which is open to both sexes!
Crookhaven is a scenic village on the most south westerly tip of Ireland, during the winter the population is just 40 people which swells to over 400 when Calves Week comes to visit, however the town does have three pubs for the competitors to meet in after racing.
Calves Week is not a high profile regatta but it offers many other attractions; racing under IRC means that virtually any type of keel boat with an IRC certificate can enter, it is a great opportunity for people to get out on the water with family and friends, enjoy sailing and visit some of Ireland's beautiful coastline and islands. Regattas like Calves Week are an excellent opportunity for cruising sailors to try their hand at yacht racing without any pressure. For seasoned yacht racers, events like Calves Week are a reminder of the basic reasons why people chose to go to sea; to have fun and witness some amazing scenery and marine life.
For more information visit http://www.shsc.ie/index.php/calves/