Displaying items by tag: Belfast Lough
Bangor has more of a link to the prestigious SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race than is at first obvious writes Betty Armstrong. This year Royal Ulster Yacht Club looks forward to tracking the progress of father and son duo, Johnny and Jamie Ritchie in their Dufour 41 Classic, Mingulay, who have, after the last race when they had to retire to Dingle, forensically sorted out the sea cock problem, and kitted out the sail locker with two new sails having discovered their large full genoa and spinnaker wasn’t quite the solution for close reaching.
The RIR website tells us that the first race took place in 1980 with only thirteen boats. That indeed is the case for the race in its current format with the Wicklow start, but in 1975 Ballyholme Yacht Club had jumped on the increasingly two-handed race offshore scene and ran what was, in fact, the very first Round Ireland Race starting at Ballyholme with stopovers in Crosshaven and Killybegs.
Four yachts took part. The names will ring a bell with the more senior members of the Irish sailing fraternity; Eamonn Crosbie and the late Jim Poole from Dun Laoghaire in the little Ruffian 23 Ruffino; Brian Law from Strangford Lough with Brian Daniels (ex-Great Britain 11) in Sai See, a 38 ft Finnisterrre class yawl; Robert Mollard and Dick Watson in an S&S 34 Korsar from Dun Laoghaire, and the late Brian Coad and Derek Wyndham’s Folkboat, Shoestring from Waterford. Korsar won in a time of nearly seven days. And Coad won the 1980 race in Raasay of Melfort.
Sadly, Ballyholme let go of the idea and following the success of Wicklow SC’s Round Ireland Rally in 1979, a race starting from and finishing in Wicklow, leaving Ireland and all its islands to starboard, was proposed and under the stewardship of the late Michael Jones, the first Round Ireland took place in 1980.
But Belfast Lough’s association with the race was renewed from time to time. In 1986 Fiona Hicks reminds me that she was part of an all-women crew, which included Enda O’Coineen's sister, Ann Marie Bowring, racing in a Sigma 41 called Electra. And again in 1988, Fiona was in the crew of Twenty Twenty, an MG RS 34 owned by Jimmy Mackey.
So now the Ritchies are renewing that association, determined to go the distance this year, hopefully without mishap.
In 2018 all began well, and they were mid-fleet between the Tuskar and the Fastnet, but within four hours of rounding the Fastnet in calm conditions at 1800 on 1st July, the wind was gusting 40 knots. They admit they were over canvassed, heeling and taking in water through galley and toilet sinks. They were unaware of the ingress of water as both were in the cockpit. Discretion being the better part of valour, they retired, along with a couple of others to Dingle for repairs. Mingulay did, in fact, complete the passage round Ireland – well nearly – they stopped in Belfast Lough. The father and son hope for better things this time round.
Ballyholme Yacht Club will be the venue for the Irish Multihull Association’s Weekend of Speed in mid-May.
The club has extensive experience of hosting national and international sailing events on the virtually tide and hazard free waters of Belfast Lough and it was here in 2014 that the F18 Worlds came to town. Winners then were Gunnar Larsen and Ferdinand van West from the Netherlands. The event also attracted America’s Cup sailor Glenn Ashby (afloat.ie 15/6/14).
So, over the weekend of 23rd and 24th May, the Multihulls will return in numbers, this time hopefully joined by the 49er and 29er fleets, an innovation introduced in 2018. The catamaran fleet race as an Open fleet with Dart 18, Dart16, Hurricane 5.9 SX and a highly competitive F18 fleet.
Due to the huge interest and success the event is being developed into an annual meet in association with one of the I.M.A. Regional or National calendar events, this year the Northern Championships.
The organisers welcome any high-performance skiffs with a Portsmouth Number no lower than 900, as well as RS400s, Fireballs and 505s. This could be the event of the year, a chance to see young potential Olympic talent along with Olympians and Olympic contenders on show.
PRO will be International Race Officer, local man, Robin Gray so competitors can be assured of full and fair racing.
A full social programme is planned, and visitors will find smart refurbished and extended changing facilities which include a spacious changing area for disabled people.
There is ample car parking and with the dinghy park extension, plenty of boat space. Camping on site is also available.
Further enquiries to Ballyholme Y.C. +44 (0) 28 9127 1467 or email [email protected], +44 (0)7878 643426.
Among the craft in Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough who have made it their home since it opened thirty years ago, are the rowing boats belonging to the Bangor Sea Cadet Unit, T S Decoy. Their shore base is an ex-Scout hall in Ward Park in the town. The unit’s sailing dinghies are kept at the Outdoor Centre at Killyleagh and the paddleboards at their HQ. Officer in Charge is Philip Atwell.
The Bangor unit has a great record in local and national competition. It prides itself on winning last year, the Sea Cadet burgee with Shamrock as best overall unit in Northern Ireland, and the Amaryllis Trophy for the best sporting unit in the region.
Skilled rowing is high on the trophy list with the under 15 girls’ team winning bronze in London at the national finals. And the unit’s football teams excel also, the under- 15 girls having competed in 5 a-side football, winning Gold in the district competition and bronze in the national competition.
Three of the District team boys took silver. And the junior section cadets (10 - 12-year olds) won bronze in the same competition. A force to be reckoned with.
The 58 strong group, about half of which are girls, is one of several in the region with a total of 380 cadets. The others are Carrickfergus, Larne, Portrush, Belfast (where there are two), Lisburn, Newtownards, Kilkeel, Ballymena, Cookstown and a planned one in Enniskillen.
The Sea Cadets are a national charity with 400 units across the UK. T S Decoy welcomes “young people to a different kind of adventure. We're helping to launch local young people for life today, transforming them into confident, resilient young people who thrive in a complex world.
The regeneration of the waterfront in Bangor as detailed on 25th November in Afloat.ie, reached another crucial stage in its progress when the developer Bangor Marine Ltd. submitted a comprehensive planning application for the site at Queen’s Parade and Marine Gardens overlooking the Marina.
Announcing this next step, the Department for Communities flagged it up as a significant milestone towards seeing the major £50 million regeneration project delivered in the town. Bangor Marine Ltd. is a consortium made up of several leading companies including the Karl Group and Farrans.
The proposed scheme is made up of; Marine Gardens Public Realm combining external events space, cafes, sheltered promenade and kiosks, beach, seafront lawns, children’s play area and water feature, a hotel, a destination/cinema building, residential units, commercial/retail/restaurant space, office space, a play zone, refurbishment of existing commercial properties, basement car park, and marketplace & courtyard squares.
With several key shops quitting the town centre for outlying retail parks and the only shopping centre closing its doors some years ago, it is hoped that this project will go some way to restoring confidence in the town.
Welcoming the application, the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA, said: “This is a huge step in the right direction for the redevelopment of Bangor’s town centre. We are one step closer to the £50 million investment in Bangor, which will create much-needed jobs, shops, offices and homes, and will create an attractive place for people to visit”. She went on to say, “Now that the developer has submitted the Planning Application, I am encouraging everyone in Bangor to get involved, share their ideas, and make their voices heard in the consultation that follows”.
The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Alderman Bill Keery said: “The regeneration of Queen’s Parade is critical to the future of Bangor and working with Council’s plans to help regenerate the Bangor Waterfront will help to maximise the economic growth potential of the wider Borough of Ards and North Down”.
Aran Blackbourne, from Bangor Marine Ltd, said: “We are delighted to submit our exciting plans for the transformation of Queen’s Parade and Marine Gardens in Bangor. Submission of these plans follows a period of extensive and meaningful engagement with Ards and North Down Borough Council, the Department for Communities and, most importantly the people of Bangor.
Jackie Patton, chair of RYANI and Donaghadee Sailing Club member, is on a mission. She used to crew a 505 and along with Thomas Anderson, ex 505 helmsman and crew and past Commodore of Royal North of Ireland YC, is organising a 505 Irish fleet reunion on Saturday 25th April in the RNIYC clubhouse at Cultra near Belfast.
The fleet disbanded in the mid-1980s. The well-known sailor and the retired owner of McCready Sailboats chandlery in Holywood, Wic McCready, and Jackie were the last to win an Irish championship. The class is still active in the rest of the UK and internationally.
As reported previously in Afloat.ie there was an august gathering of Irish 505 sailors at the National Yacht Club on Thursday 7th November to commemorate the second European Championships of the class, which was held in Dun Laoghaire in August 1969.
Former 505 sailors came from far and wide across the island of Ireland to remember the championships, which helped build a young and dynamic group who went on to contribute greatly to Irish Sailing over the following 50 years.
Jackie can be contacted at [email protected]
Today you couldn’t swim across Bangor Bay on Belfast Lough without skirting the Marina but from 1910 till the 80s the ‘Pickie to Pier’ annual sea swim saw many participants taking part in the 650-metre race from Skippingstone Beach, beside what is now Pickie Fun Park, to the then North Pier, now named the Eisenhower Pier, and back.
Now, in its Seaside Revival programme, the Open House Festival which runs in August every year in Bangor, the Pickie to Pier race is being held again, (in 2020 it is on July 4th) but sadly, the men’s prize, the Lyttle Trophy is missing! The ladies are lucky, however, as their prize is still intact. It is named the Connor Shield after a well-known old Bangor family.
So, the hunt is on for that trophy. Local businessman David McCullough won the race in the late 1960s when he was around 12 years old and remembers the trophy had three handles.
The swim to the pier pre-dates the Bangor swimming club – the 18th annual swim was organised by Donegall Amateur Swimming Club based in Belfast. By the time Bangor ASC was formed, there were inter-club races to the pier featuring Wellington, New Alliance and Northern swimming clubs. BASC swam the route weekly, and the Pickie to Pier race carried on through two world wars but met its demise in the late 1980s when a new heated indoor pool was favoured to the freezing cold, jellyfish-laden waters of Bangor Bay.
According to one of the local librarians who has done some research, it is probable that 1918 was the 18th year of the race but no evidence that it started in 1910 could be found in the local press. The race did continue through WWII but there is a gap in the library reels from 1916 – 25 so those years cannot be checked. Generally, the race was run for individuals in a handicap system according to how good a swimmer they were – the faster you were, the longer you had to wait before starting off. There was also a team event for the Gamble Memorial Trophy.
Before Pickie Pool was built in 1931, gentlemen swam in that area and the ladies swam just below the large mansion called Seacourt in what was called ‘Ladies Bathing Place”.
Many people who did the race remember how cold it was, even in August; the horrors of being touched by the seaweed and stinging jellyfish as well as the distance, all presented a huge challenge. One of the competitors remembers the coal boat leaving harbour during the race, creating chaos. But what amounts to a questionable memory is that of a competitor who did the swim with a bottle of Olde English (an American malt liquor) in one hand and a Rod Stewart album in the other!
So if you can help please contact Caroline McCoubrey [email protected]
Olympian Matt McGovern returned for the final race of part one of the Icebreaker Series on Belfast Lough and showed enough class and speed in the very light winds to show the rest of the Laser fleet the way home. Nearly 40 Lasers fought hard to get away at a compressed start line made worse by a right-hand bias. A black flag on the second attempted start kept them back enough but the wind dropped almost immediately to less than 5 knots.
Series leader Chris Boyd showed his light wind prowess to get a third place and the overall win. Conor Simms tried to make it back through the fleet but finished second overall with Johnathan Henry third. Cavan Fyans had an even better race with a third-place which propelled him to Silver fleet winner in his first series since coming back after children and a PhD. Alex Ward also showed unknown light wind skills to take the Bronze fleet overall prize.
Ollie Haig has a great start in the Laser Radials but was unable to keep Joni Rock and Ellen Barbour behind him. Jess Winton had already won the Laser Radial fleet overall. Special note must go to Sara Sofia Odiso who was sailing her final race at Ballyholme - Sara comes from BYC’s twin club Andora Yacht Club in Italy and has been staying with BYC members for the last 16 weeks but goes home on Boxing Day. She will be missed by the other sailors.
The large dinghy fleet has a mix of boats with RS Aeros’ of varying shapes (including IRO Robin Gray) and sizes, Rs200s, RS400s, 505’s but they have been largely following the Laser 2000 of Dave Fletcher and Ryan Smyth throughout the series. Recent Jacques Fabre sailor Chunky/Michael Gunning with a rare showing from Jeremy Tomalin shot away in their RS400 however followed by Garth Flannigan and Brian Spence who had to retire with equipment failure.
Rob Milligan and Paul Blamphin came second overall in an RS200 with Sandra Halliwell third in an RSAero5.
Richard Swanston and Matt McMurtry were able to break away in their F18 for the win in front of series winners Adrian Allen and Barry Swanston. Special note must go to Pete and Dee McDowell who come second in their Viper before celebrating their Gold Wedding Anniversary today - how many multihull or other crews can claim such a prize.
The Topper fleet was won by Charlie O’Malley with Dan Sheriff and Charlotte Eadie following him home and in similar positions in the series. Ian Moore and his young son Aaron won the small PY class in their Mirror beating the O’Tiarnagh and Harrington teams in their RS Feva’s
The prize-giving was held after racing followed by the infamous Icebreaker dinner which has been held for over 25 years with the usual merriment and a quiz. Over 90 dinghies have raced in this years Icebreaker showing the strength of dinghy racing at Ballyholme. The Laser Radial fleet expect even greater numbers in Part 2 in preparation for the Youth European Championships in July 2020 - the second series starts again on the first Sunday in February. Many thanks were given to Charles Hurst Jaguar Landrover who have sponsored the event for the first time as well as all the volunteers that help to make the series run - on and off their water.
Artemis Technologies, the world’s leading high-performance maritime design and applied technologies company, will collaborate with Tuco Marine Group to integrate its new electric eFoiler propulsion system into an 11m carbon fibre vessel.
This will serve as a demonstrator vessel as proof of concept for the innovative technology that will be marketed to the marine trade by Artemis Technologies and Tuco Marine Group, which supplies a range of different composite structures for the shipping industry.
The hydrofoils and propulsion system for the proof of concept vessel will be manufactured and assembled in Belfast Harbour, following a multi-million-pound investment in the project.
Artemis Technologies, Chief Executive, Iain Percy OBE, double Olympic Gold medallist and veteran of four America’s Cup challenges, said:
“This Joint Venture with Tuco Marine Group will introduce our unique foiling solutions to the workboat market which could now benefit from zero emissions and fuel savings of up to 90%.
“Last year when we announced our plans to create a new advanced manufacturing facility in Belfast, we laid out our commitment to developing technology that will decarbonise maritime and plans for the development of an ‘autonomous sailing vessel’. This electric foiling technology is the next natural stage of this project and a step in the right direction to realising our vision.
“As the first ever electric foiling solution for vessels, this is a truly transformative project and it is incredibly exciting to be part of one of the solutions to climate change.
“The technology is perfect for those requiring high speed vessels with minimal environmental impact. Initially targeted at the Aquaculture, Off Shore Energy, Water Taxi, Leisure and Defence sectors, the proof of concept for the technology will provide an immediate route to market.
“Integrating our new electric eFoiler propulsion system into a composite autonomously controlled hydrofoil presents a scalable solution that can be applied to much larger vessels such as high-speed passenger ferries.
“Belfast’s rich maritime history provides the perfect setting to play a role in the development of such technology and we’re incredibly excited as to what this project will mean for our future as a company and in Northern Ireland.”
In March it was revealed that the Artemis Technologies-led bid - “Decarbonisation of Maritime Transportation – a Return to Commercial Sailing” – was the only application from Northern Ireland and from the maritime industry to be selected for the next stage of the UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund.
Recipients of the major seedcorn programme will be announced in spring 2020 and if successful, the Belfast Maritime Consortium will receive more than £30m towards its plans to decarbonise maritime transportation.
Since its establishment in 1998, Tuco Marine Group has established itself as a key player in developing the industry towards more environmentally sustainable vessels.
Jonas Pederson, Managing Director at Tuco Marine, said:
“We aim to manufacture world class workboats and adding Artemis Technologies’ superior foiling and propulsion technology will further improve our product offering.
“Whilst Tuco Marine has the knowledge and technology to build carbon fibre vessels, getting these boats foiling is a significant stride in reducing emissions on the water.
“Our lightweight structures are built for speed and even with this new technology, this is not compromised.
“Reducing emissions is a huge focus for the maritime industry and we’re thrilled that this partnership with Artemis Technologies allows us to play a role in shaping what is undoubtedly the technology of the future.
“We look forward to continuing our Joint Venture with Artemis Technology and marketing this technology to industries for which workboats are essential.”
An interesting take on wind-power made by Econowind has now been installed on DFDS container/side-port loader vessel Lysbris Seaways following recent tests in the Netherlands.
A metal sail in a box is a novel concept, but it could be a solution to save fuel and emissions for shipping by utilising the power of the wind that nearly all ships once relied on.
The prototype (view video) was installed on the deck of Lysbris Seaways last month in Amsterdam. The system is from Dutch company Econowind which created a foldable aluminium sail concept that sits on the deck of a vessel. It comes in a 40-foot container and is a far cry from historic sail designs, as two metallic 10-metre foils, or wings, fold out with the press of a button.
The design and software let the wings move to optimally catch the wind and help propel the vessel forward. Just last week the company received the Dutch Maritime Innovation award for the Econowind unit, which shows promise from earlier testing.
Poul Woodall, Director of Environment, and Vidar Karlsen, Managing Director in Norway, signed the agreement in September for the collaboration with Econowind and Green Shipping Programme (Grønt Skipsfartsprogram or GSP), a Norwegian programme for research into, and development of, green shipping solutions. GSP delivers a theoretical modelling of historic weather data, consumption, routes and more that we use for testing.
Vidar says: “Lysbris Seaways is perfect for testing such a concept. In theory it looks like a good idea, but we need to see if the estimated fuel savings are realistic for this type of vessel. We are going to measure fuel consumption with the sail and get a picture of the efficiency gained over time compared to the regular numbers.”
“The finalised design works automatically, meaning you can open the container from the bridge and open the sail, but for the prototype it’s a bit more hands-on with manual controls and a service engineer present to operate the system. After a successful installation we are now looking forward to seeing the outcome of the two months of testing,” Vidar adds.
Sofie Hebeltoft, Head of CSR, says: “With projects like this we take responsibility for developing new energy sources and methods of propulsion that can take us towards cleaner ships and eventually zero emission shipping. We are therefore extremely grateful for initiatives such as this taken on by Vidar and his team.”
Belfast Harbour has been named the best port of call in the UK and Ireland for cruise ships. The accolade was awarded by a global panel of cruise experts as part of the 2019 Cruise Critic Editors’ Pick Awards.
It follows a record-breaking 2019 cruise season for the city with 146 cruise calls and 280,000 visitors. The judges were particularly impressed by a £500,000 investment by Belfast Harbour and Tourism NI in the island’s first dedicated cruise terminal which was officially opened in July.
The welcome facility, which includes a Visitor Information Centre managed by Visit Belfast, also boasts new facilities for coaches and taxis, and an easily accessible deep-water berth to accommodate larger cruise ships. The judges also praised the location of the terminal for providing “easy access to the city’s world-class attractions, such as Titanic Belfast in the city's famous Titanic Quarter”.
Joe O’Neill, Belfast Harbour’s CEO, said: “With our partners Visit Belfast we’ve worked hard to market Belfast Harbour and Northern Ireland under the ‘Cruise Belfast’ initiative as one of the best cruise destinations in Western Europe. We’ve also invested in a new terminal with the support of Tourism NI to encourage further growth in this strategically important sector. Considering the quality of other destinations in the UK and Ireland, we’re delighted to win the award”.
If you had left Belfast twenty years ago (as many did) you would remember the city as having turned its back on the River Lagan. Not so today. The waterfront has developed beyond imagination with of course, the magnificent Titanic Belfast, the Marina and many office and apartment blocks, river cruises and maritime festivals. Belfast Harbour is Northern Ireland’s leading gateway and key economic hub for trade and tourism, handling more than 70% of the region’s seaborne imports and exports. The 2,000-acre Harbour Estate hosts more than five million annual visits, including 1.5 million ferry and cruise ship passengers. It’s home to a vibrant mix of 760 businesses working across multiple sectors, to include marine logistics and heavy engineering, commercial and residential real estate, retail, financial and IT services, tourism and leisure, media and creative industries.
And helping feed the economy is the successful cruise tourism sector which encourages new tourist and leisure projects, and further enhances Belfast’s reputation as a leading destination, including within the cruise market.
Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast, added: In the 20 years since Visit Belfast was established, we have worked with Belfast Harbour to attract cruise visitors to the city and region, and the result has been an enormous increase in the number of visitors and ships coming to the city. In total, Cruise Belfast has brought 784 ships to the city since 1999, and in the last five years alone, cruise visitor numbers have increased by 135%.
John McGrillen, Tourism NI Chief Executive, commented: “This is a great achievement for Belfast’s international visitor reputation and is a result of major investment in the cruise tourism market which saw the opening of our first dedicated cruise terminal in July. The new terminal can accommodate bigger cruise ships bringing visitors from key markets across Europe and ensure that once they are here, they are easily able to access all of our world-famous attractions and hospitality.
The awards are based on Cruise Critic editors’ impartial cruise expertise which draws upon first-hand experiences and industry knowledge. Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor, Cruise Critic said: “The desire for more experiential holidays, especially amongst younger travellers is certainly helping to boost the UK cruise sector. There is more choice than ever before in ocean, river and expedition cruises as a result of an array of exciting new ships launched this year and next. Whether you are cruising as a multi-generational family, a couple or solo, there really is a cruise for everyone.”
In addition to its record-breaking cruise season, Belfast Harbour also welcomed several firsts during 2019. These included the visits of ‘Disney Magic’ and SAGA’s first ever new build vessel, the ‘Spirit of Discovery’. The port also welcomed 6,500 visitors and crew onboard the ‘MSC Meraviglia’, the largest ship by passenger capacity to ever visit Belfast. The Harbour has also invested in new facilities to market Belfast as a cruise embarkation port. Cruise & Maritime has already scheduled departures from Belfast for next summer including Norwegian Fjord and British Isles itineraries.