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Perennial Steve Goacher from Lake Windermere sailed to victory in a single race on the final day of the Flying Fifteen Irish Championships at County Antrim Yacht Club. The multiple World and British Champion, sailing with Dun Laoghaire's Alan Green, counted five race wins in the six race series.

Today's single windward leeward race was raced on an inshore course given the gusty conditions at Whitehead.

Strangford Lough boats took second and third places. Andrew McCleary and Colin Dougan from Killyleagh finished second Andy and Rory Martin in third.

Waterford Harbour's Lee Statham and Andrew Paul took fifth and were the first boat from the Republic.

There will be some disappointment that the first Flying fifteen from the fleet stronghold at Dun Laoghaire was as far back as tenth in the 24–boat national championship fleet.

Download overall results below.

Published in Flying Fifteen

The Irish Olympic Laser trials looked like they were being sailed on home waters a week ago when the two protagonists for the single mens Laser berth in Rio this summer contested the Ulster Championships at County Antrim Yacht Club at Whitehead. Significantly, perhaps, in advance of the final trial later this month, it was the young Leinster helmsman who was celebrrating his birthday that weekend had the edge over trials leader James Espey from Belfast.

A combined fleet of nearly 100 boats in 4.7, radial and full rigs witnessed the Olympic class dog fight in a windy and cold championships. 'It was superb to see Lynch, Espey plus O’Sullivan on the local circuit', said one seasoned Laser campaigner.

Lynch's NYC  team-mates enjoyed the Antrim challenge too and posted results at or close to the top of all of the fleets. Heather Spain topped the Laser 4.7 fleet winning both first place overall and the girl’s first spot. Also achieving podium places were Hugh Perrette second place in the Laser 4.7 fleet, Evie Byrne, second girl and Clare Gorman third girl in only her second Laser event. Jenny Fekkes was third girl in the Laser Radial fleet. 

Full results downloadable below.

Published in Laser

#flyingfifteen –  Frequent visitor to Ireland, UK Flying fifteen champion Charles Apthorp, sailing with Alan Green, produced four wins at the East Coast Championships to be unstoppable at a windy County Antrim Yacht Club at Whitehead yesterday. The National Yacht Club's David Gorman and Chris Doorly were second (on tie– break) in the 20–boat fleet with County Antrim's own Bryan Willis and John McPeake third. Full results downloadable below. 

On Saturday three races were held in 10-25 knots of breeze from the west/sw. Being so close to the land it was shifty towards the shore and the wind coming around the headland also had an impact on conditions. Racing started at 2pm,

Race 1: the tide was going out towards the north and this held boats back on the line, the pin was favoured and with the wind out on the left it was important to get a good start. Gorman got a great start and soon tacked across the fleet, he led at the weather mark with Apthorp hot on his heels, Apthorp took the lead on the run and held it to the end, on the second beat Gormans outhaul broke and he was out of the race, not good to use your discard so early but he was up and running for the next race. Mc Cleery was second with Malcolm Crichton & Barry Bridges (SSC) third.
Race 2: The wind and rain were lashing the fleet at this stage. Apthorp won comfortably with Gorman chasing him all the way to be a comfortable second. There was confusion as to how many laps were sailed, after three there was no blue flag up so the fleet sailed another but it didn't affect positions. Chamberlain broke his jib halyard and at the weather mark there was a pile up involving three boats with the end result a large hole in Marcus Crichtons boat- no more sailing for him and his crew Roy.
Race 3: the boat end was favoured, Apthorp got away as Gorman got held up at the start by boats sailing over and not going up to keep clear as they should at the start, despite this he was up in third place at the weather mark behind Apthorp and McCleery. On the next beat the two leaders sailed to the left as Willis, Gorman and Mathews headed in towards the shore, this paid and the three were really close all the way to the finish line, the downwind leg was particularly exciting with boats vying for inside position at the last leeward mark. Local man Brian Willis & John McPeak deservedly won with Mathews second , Gorman third with Apthorp and McCleery back quiet a bit in fourth and fifth place.

On reaching the shore after the three races the well organised helpers on the slip were a welcome sight as were the soup and bread rolls. There was an excellent meal provided later in the club and the revelry in this fine club went on late into the night.

For Sunday the forecast was for the strong winds to continue but on arrival it was moderate, there was an early start so we could get in before the low tide.
In Race 4: Gorman got squeezed out at the start and had to turn round and start in the second lane at the committee boat, he headed in towards the shore but left paid and Apthorp led all the way with McKee, Chamberlain and Crichton all chasing. The wind was up now particularly further out of the shelter of the land and there was some great downwind sailing. On the last beat Gorman worked hard on the shifts and just managed to pip Chamberlain and Crichton on the line. The win was enough for Apthorp & Green to retain the title they won last season.
Race 5 was a triangle Olympic course with some hard reaches thrown in just to tire the already tired crews. Gorman lead at the weather mark but was overtaken on the reach by the heavier crew on Frequent Flyer. After some great reaches and close racing Apthorp and Gorman got well ahead of the pack on the second beat to finish in first and second place in the race and overall. Chamberlain was third with Irish Champion McCleery & Dougan fourth in Race 5. Small consolation for Gorman & Doorly is that they are back on top of the Irish Ranking table.

At the prize giving local class captain and Commodore thanked the sponsors and the many volenteers including the PRO and his team. On behalf of the winning crew Alan Green also thanked all involved in the club and also his fellow competitors who all made the effort to travel to this great part of the Irish coastline.

The next event is the Northern Championships which will be held in Whiterock Stangford Lough in June.

Published in Flying Fifteen

#420 – Howth Yacht Club's Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove continue their unbeaten run in the 420 dinghy class but they did not get it all their own way in the early stages of the Ulster Championships at County Antrim Yacht Club at the weekend.

Royal Cork's Peter McCann and Arran Walsh took the first three races in the ten boat fleet before the youth national champions got into their stride at Whitehead.  

Full results available to download below as a jpeg file.

Published in 420

#RYAAwards - Two sailors from Northern Ireland have received awards from the Royal Yachting Association for their voluntary work, as the Carrickfergus Times reports.

Belfast Lough locals Sheela Lewis from Whitehead received Karl Blythe from Carrickfergus were among 56 people commended by Britain's Princess Royal at the RYA Volunteer Awards in London recently.

Lewis, the first female commodore of the County Antrim Yacht Club, was presented with the Lifetime Commitment Award for her hard work in developing the small club's sailing courses.

And Blythe was nominated by Belfast Lough Sailability for the Youth Award for his dedication to helping others get into sailing and promoting the club online, even while facing the challenges of his autism spectrum disorder.

“I really enjoy helping out with Belfast Lough Sailability and don’t think I do anything more special than any other volunteer," said the 19-year-old. "I really enjoy getting involved, not only with the sailing and on-the-water activities but also helping behind the scenes."

Published in Belfast Lough
Well-wishers broke out the champagne to welcome home Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander as she completed her solo circumnavigation of Ireland by kayak yesterday.
The first woman from Northern Ireland to complete such a feat, Shooter landed at County Antrim Yacht Club 71 days after setting off from the same spot on her 1,000-mile challenge to raise funds for local charity SHARE.
Shooter's skills were regularly tested to the limit. On one occasion she suffered severe sea sickness after getting caught in a large swell during a 12-mile crossing near Brandon Bay.
“I was fully committed with a cliff face on one side and a long paddle to America on the other, so I had to continue despite being severely ill,” she said.
But the challenge wasn't all doom and gloom. One highlight was when Shooter was joined by a pod of six dolphins for over an hour near Easkey on the Sligo coast. And above all, the people she met along the way have left a lasting impression.
“The support from the kayaking community and local fisherman has been great," she said. "Kayakers have paddled stretches with me, met me with tea and biscuits, gave me warm beds and hot showers, shared invaluable local knowledge – I can’t thank them enough."

Well-wishers broke out the champagne to welcome home Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander as she completed her solo circumnavigation of Ireland by kayak yesterday.

The first woman from Northern Ireland to complete such a feat, Shooter landed at County Antrim Yacht Club 71 days after setting off from the same spot on her 1,000-mile challenge to raise funds for local charity SHARE.

Shooter's skills were regularly tested to the limit. On one occasion she suffered severe sea sickness after getting caught in a large swell during a 12-mile crossing near Brandon Bay.

“I was fully committed with a cliff face on one side and a long paddle to America on the other, so I had to continue despite being severely ill,” she said. 

But the challenge wasn't all doom and gloom. One highlight was when Shooter was joined by a pod of six dolphins for over an hour near Easkey on the Sligo coast. And above all, the people she met along the way have left a lasting impression. 

“The support from the kayaking community and local fisherman has been great," she said. "Kayakers have paddled stretches with me, met me with tea and biscuits, gave me warm beds and hot showers, shared invaluable local knowledge – I can’t thank them enough."

Published in Kayaking
Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander is set for hero’s welcome this week as she becomes the first woman from Northern Ireland to circumnavigate the island of Ireland by kayak.
The solo paddler is expected to reach the finish line at County Antrim Yacht Club on Wednesday after her 70-plus-day test of endurance.
Shooter began her epic 1,000-mile voyage on 3 May, facing a tough challenge navigating a coastline of cliffs and headlands, strong tides and brutal weather. She has been storm-bound for a total of 21 days, often only with a small tent for shelter.
When asked what home comfort she was most looking forward to, she simply replied: "A proper toilet and some clean clothes."
Shooter embarked on the challenge to raise funds for SHARE, a charity providing outdoor activity programmes that promote the inclusion of disabled and non-disabled people.
“I expected and had trained for the physical challenge but I don’t think you can ever prepare mentally," she commented.
"It has been a real struggle coping with the repetition of paddling, getting changed into wet clothes and packing up a wet tent every day. Especially on the windy days it has been hard just to push on that extra few miles each day.”
But connecting with fans and supporters through social media made a big difference.
“The Facebook page has really been a lifeline," she said. "There is nothing more motivating than coming off the water after a tough day to read so many supportive and funny comments from well wishers."
See below for a map showing Shooter's live position as she edges closer to the finish line.

Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander is set for hero’s welcome this week as she becomes the first woman from Northern Ireland to circumnavigate the island of Ireland by kayak.

The solo paddler is expected to reach the finish line at County Antrim Yacht Club on Wednesday after her 70-plus-day test of endurance.

Shooter began her epic 1,000-mile voyage on 3 May, facing a tough challenge navigating a coastline of cliffs and headlands, strong tides and brutal weather. She has been storm-bound for a total of 21 days, often only with a small tent for shelter. 

When asked what home comfort she was most looking forward to, she simply replied: "A proper toilet and some clean clothes." 

Shooter embarked on the challenge to raise funds for SHARE, a charity providing outdoor activity programmes that promote the inclusion of disabled and non-disabled people. 

“I expected and had trained for the physical challenge but I don’t think you can ever prepare mentally," she commented. 

"It has been a real struggle coping with the repetition of paddling, getting changed into wet clothes and packing up a wet tent every day. Especially on the windy days it has been hard just to push on that extra few miles each day.” 

But connecting with fans and supporters through social media made a big difference. 

The Facebook page has really been a lifeline," she said. "There is nothing more motivating than coming off the water after a tough day to read so many supportive and funny comments from well wishers."

See below for a map showing Shooter's live position as she edges closer to the finish line.

Published in Kayaking
Monaghan's Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander will soon begin her challenge to be come the first Northern Irish woman to circumnavigate the island of Ireland by kayak, the OutdoorNI Adventure Blog reports.
On 3 May she will set off from the newly refurbished County Antrim Yacht Club at Belfast Lough on a 1,000-mile trek that's expected to take two months to complete.
Alexander will be paddling clockwise around Ireland, taking on tides, cliffs, headlands - and Ireland's unpredicable weather.
The Ulster woman has been training since last year for the challenge, which is intended to raise funds for the Fermanagh-based SHARE, a charity that brings together disabled and non-disabled people in arts and outdoor-based activities.
“Last year I paddled around Ulster which took 26 days and prepared me for some of what to expect for this expedition," says the competitive kayaker, who represented Northern Ireland twice at the Surf Kayak World Championships.
'Shooter' will also be posting regular updates of her trip on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Details on this as well as how to donate are available on her website www.canoearoundireland.com.
The OutdoorNI Adventure Blog has more on the story HERE.

Monaghan's Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander will soon begin her challenge to be come the first Northern Irish woman to circumnavigate the island of Ireland by kayak, the OutdoorNI Adventure Blog reports.

On 3 May she will set off from the newly refurbished County Antrim Yacht Club at Belfast Lough on a 1,000-mile trek that's expected to take two months to complete.

Alexander will be paddling clockwise around Ireland, taking on tides, cliffs, headlands - and Ireland's unpredicable weather.

The Ulster woman has been training since last year for the challenge, which is intended to raise funds for the Fermanagh-based SHARE, a charity that brings together disabled and non-disabled people in arts and outdoor-based activities.

“Last year I paddled around Ulster which took 26 days and prepared me for some of what to expect for this expedition," says the competitive kayaker, who represented Northern Ireland twice at the Surf Kayak World Championships.

'Shooter' will also be posting regular updates of her trip on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Details on this as well as how to donate are available on her website www.canoearoundireland.com.

The OutdoorNI Adventure Blog has more on the story HERE.

Published in Canoeing