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The Spring Series at Royal Ulster Yacht Club on Belfast Lough ran over three Sundays in April and attracted 12 cruiser racers. IRC winner after six races was the local boat, five points ahead of Stuart Cranston’s Ker 32 Hijacker from Strangford Lough YC. Michael Eames’ All or Nothing was in third slot.

Final Call II light airs on the first day racing of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club Spring Series Photo: courtesy TYTFinal Call II light airs on the first day racing of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club Spring Series Photo: courtesy RUYC

In the Whitesail division, Vicki and Martin Dews’ Sigma 33 Elandra was the first of two starters, having something of an easy time of it as Jacada (Andrew Kennedy) sailed only two races.

Elandra, the Sigma 33 of Vicki and Martin Dews (left) with Ian Chapman's Cheoy Lee 36-ft Classic yachtElandra, the Sigma 33 of Vicki and Martin Dews (left) with Ian Chapman's Cheoy Lee 36-ft Classic yacht

The first day’s racing was in light winds, as was the second outing, with only the last meeting having anything of a decent breeze.

The Hijacker team looking relaxed at the Royal Ulster Yacht Club Spring Series Photo: Bob EspeyThe Hijacker team looking relaxed at the Royal Ulster Yacht Club Spring Series Photo: Bob Espey

For the first three races, Hijacker looked as if they were going to give Final Call II a run for their money with two wins and a second, but a drop to seventh in the final two races meant they were down to second overall. John Minnis says they can laugh about it now but in one of the early races, the crew was debating which spinnaker to use, only to find they actually had none on board. All were in the marina store.

It was good to see three boats new to the fleet - Elandra the Sigma 33, Alan Hannon’s JPK 1030 Coquine and Ian Chapman’s Cheoy Lee 36 Classic yacht.

At the prizegiving, Hon Secretary Catherine Gallagher thanked everyone who helped make the Spring Series successful. She also mentioned the new rating system, RYA YTC, which the club will use this year alongside the more traditional systems.

Michael Gunning, a Final Call II crewman on John Minnis's Archambault 35, the overall RUYC Spring Series winner with Barbara Coffey Photo: Fiona HicksMichael Gunning, a Final Call II crewman on John Minnis's Archambault 35, the overall RUYC Spring Series winner with Barbara Coffey Photo: Fiona Hicks

Stuart Cranston, skipper of Highjacker, the RUYC Spring Series runner up in IRC with Barbara Coffey Photo: Fiona HicksStuart Cranston, skipper of Highjacker, the RUYC Spring Series runner up in IRC with Barbara Coffey Photo: Fiona Hicks

Martin Dews, the Whitesail division winner of the RUYC Spring Series with Barbara Coffey Photo: Fiona HicksMartin Dews, the Whitesail division winner of the RUYC Spring Series with Barbara Coffey Photo: Fiona Hicks

The overall winner John Minnis was happy with the Series and the result of Final Call II. “Great series conditions and racing format for everyone… super to see so many yachts from different clubs creating some tight competition… the RUYC sailing committee, mark layers, battery team and Tom Bell of Grange Wine Merchants deserve special thanks for all their organisation and extremely generous sponsorship” He added, “Well done to the team on Final Call II who showed composure and commitment securing a series win only on the last day”.

Leading high-performance maritime design and applied technologies company, Artemis Technologies, has been named among the winners at the prestigious 2023 Maritime UK Awards.  

Beating stiff competition from UK counterparts, the Belfast-based company received the Innovation award in front of 400 people at a ceremony held in the Hilton Hotel, Hull.

The accolade was presented to the organisation deemed best-in-class for its exceptional commitment to innovation and ability to develop transformative technology that will deliver industry-wide benefits. 

CEO of Artemis Technologies Dr Iain Percy OBE said:  

“At Artemis Technologies, we have a mission to lead the decarbonisation of the maritime sector and we continually strive to develop technology and bring vessels to market that will offer greener, cleaner solutions for maritime operators around the world.

“Our innovations can deliver game-changing benefits and we believe our technology, and its mass adoption, will be integral to not only the UK achieving its Net Zero targets but the collective global fight against climate change.

“We are thrilled to have that potential recognised by the voice of our sector, Maritime UK, and are extremely proud to have triumphed in the Innovation Award category at the 2023 awards.

“Congratulations must go to the entire team at Artemis Technologies, the partners we work with, and indeed the other fantastic finalists we shared the stage with.”

Entries to the Innovation Award category for 2023 needed to showcase an organisation’s ability to not just develop concepts to solve challenges within the maritime sector but to deploy products to market for real-world operations.

Within the last 12 months, Artemis Technologies has successfully launched to market the world’s first commercially viable, 100% electric, high-speed foiling workboat range and the Artemis EF-24 Passenger ferry – a 100% electric foiling, high-speed passenger ferry set to revolutionise waterways worldwide.

The patented Artemis eFoiler® propulsion system which powers these vessels lends itself to varying applications within the workboat, public transport, defence and leisure sectors, providing further testament to the scale of impact the company can have on global operations and creating a more sustainable maritime future.

This award is the latest recognition by Maritime UK of Artemis Technologies’ efforts to decarbonise the maritime sector, having previously chosen the company as winner of the Clean Maritime Innovator award in 2022.

Published in Belfast Lough
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Did you know that Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast and Pancakes is the perfect way to do this? Not that Kevin and the Bangor Marina staff on Belfast Loughwill be undertaking that task next Tuesday, but there will be free pancakes and refreshments on 21st February from 1100 till 1400 in the foyer.

This feast adds to those celebrated at Bangor Marina - on St Patrick’s Day (Irish Stew), Christmas (Mince Pies) and the End of Season Burgers On Board.

Published in Belfast Lough

A Northern Ireland fisherman who landed a blue lobster last week says it was a “one in two million” shot, as Belfast Live reports.

Stuart Brown made the marine wildlife discovery of his lifetime on Friday (3 February) while hauling lobster pots set near Blackhead Lighthouse in Carrickfergus.

“You would get lobsters out there that don’t look normal, they’d be a bit browner or redder, just something different with them, but nothing that extreme,” he said.

As the cerulean crustacean was under the allowable size to keep, Brown snapped some photos before releasing it back into the waters of Belfast Lough — where it may yet surprise another unsuspecting fisher or local.

Belfast Live has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

It was that time of year again for the keen Stand Up Paddlers to get into the Santa and Elf costumes and take to the water in Bangor Harbour on Belfast Lough.

Eighty-two went afloat and raised £600 for the local lifeboat with safety cover by Safer Waters NI. All that effort makes them hungry and Iain McCarthy of SUP Hub thanked the Zero waste market store Lightfoot for the refreshments as well as Bangor Marina for permission to use the Harbour and the SUP Hub Team for the volunteering time to help make this run safely.

The winner of Fastest Santa was Kelly Marie Wood, and the fastest Juniors were Theo and Jonas Hamilton. Fancy dress winners shared the prizes - Sylvia Watt, Phil Forsythe, Karen Sykes, Christine, Gemma and Maggie McCullough.

This was the fourth year of the Santa SUP at Bangor HarbourThis was the fourth year of the Santa SUP at Bangor Harbour

This was the fourth year of Santa SUP, and in that time it has seen over 250 Santas take to the water. Iain McCarthy, who runs the company, was delighted with the response: “We have raised over £2500 over the years for the Lifeboat, and we hope to make a fixture of this event on the first weekend of December every year to continue supporting our local lifeboat team, promote our city and celebrate the good fortune we have to be surrounded by such brilliant bodies of water”.

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BBC News reports that the body of a man who went missing from a ferry in Belfast Lough late last month has been found.

Claims that a man had fallen overboard from a ferry on the night of Saturday 29 October prompted a multi-agency search of Belfast Lough that was stood down the following day.

Belfast Harbour Police have now confirmed that a body found on Thursday morning (17 November) on a beach in Holywood, Co Down is that of the missing ferry passenger.

As previously noted on, the man was understood to be “a high-risk missing person” and had been on a crossing from Cairnryan in Scotland to Northern Ireland on the Stena Superfast VIII.

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A major search operation for a man believed to have gone overboard from a ferry in Belfast Lough at the weekend has been stood down and the matter handed over to police.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, searches were suspended on Sunday (30 October) and a spokesperson for Belfast Harbour Police told the newspaper it is “engaged in an ongoing investigation into a high-risk missing person”.

It was reported in the Irish press that Dublin Port was contacted on Saturday evening by someone with concerns for their relative, a 39-year-old Limerick man who was expected on a ferry to the capital from Holyhead in Wales.

It later emerged that the man in question was on a crossing from Cairnryan in Scotland to Belfast on the Stena Superfast VIII.

Commenting on social media, Larne Search & Rescue — which was one of the many partners involved in the multi-agency response — said it was stood down on Sunday afternoon with nothing found.

“During the search, our dedicated volunteer crews were out in testing conditions in very little visibility,” it said. “Both lifeboats were deployed alongside Quayside teams and rotated through five crews during the long searches through the night and the following day.”

Larne Search & Rescue added: “It is very difficult for the team to not have a positive outcome, but…the area was extensively searched by all assets using various search patterns.

“Our thoughts are with the family at this time and we hope for positive news.”

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RTÉ News reports that searches are ongoing in Belfast Lough today (Sunday 30 October) after claims that a man fell overboard from a docked ferry on Saturday night.

The PSNI has asked the public to avoid the area as a multi-agency response involving coastguard rescue teams from Northern Ireland and western Scotland and RNLI lifeboats resumed searching this morning.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, a rescue plane was dispatched this morning to search an area of interest, with searches focused on the area of Belfast Lough between Greenisland on the northern shore and Bangor on the southern side.

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 A year to the day after a successful inaugural windsurfing event last year, Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough is running, in association with the Irish Windsurfing Association, the Open Ulster Championships on 22nd October, and a Coastal windsurf or wing foiling and Novice races on the following day, Sunday 23rd.

This will be the first time a ranked event will have been hosted in Bangor and follows the success of an IWA event last Autumn.

Event Organiser, Aidan Pounder has been liaising with Nick Fletcher, who runs the annual IWA event in Downings, Co Donegal and he is delighted that Ballyholme has been offered the opportunity to host this event this year. “We are really looking forward to a fun and enjoyable event for all concerned. Hopefully the weather and sea state conditions will be favourable to the competitors and spectators alike”.

Coastal windsurf and wing foiling will also be held on Ballyholme BayCoastal windsurf and wing foiling will also be held on Ballyholme Bay

The event will take place off Ballymacormick beach on the east side of the Bay. It is expected that the competitors will be assembling and registering at the nearby Banks Lane car park from 0730 hrs, with racing starting 1055 hrs.

This is an IWA ranked event and will have Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets on a slalom/figure of 8 courses with up to 11 races, either on fin or foil for Gold and Silver fleets only on Saturday.

There will be Coastal races on Sunday, for windsurf or wing foiling only. At the same time, there will be racing for the Novice class, alongside try-a-windsurf activity.

Irish Windsurfing Association, the Open Ulster Championships

Published in Belfast Lough

It all came good at the end of the 22 season for John Minnis and his team on Final Call II from Royal Ulster Yacht Club on Belfast Lough.

Eight weeks after a serious hiccup in June during Bangor Town Regatta, when the Archambault 35 suffered rigging damage and had to be hauled out, Minnis’s slick team pulled it all together for the remaining events and won the Vantage Health and Life-sponsored Celtic Cup, clinching the title by one point from Debbie Aitken’s First 36.7 Animal from Clyde Cruising Club and Royal Northern.

Four events make up the RC35 Celtic Cup - Kip, Tarbert, Bangor Town Regatta and Cork Week but only Pat Kelly’s Storm raced in Cork. John Minnis burst onto the RC 35 scene at Kip when he won the event. It was victory also at Howth.

Bangor Town Regatta proved a testing event for Final Call II. Apart from the challenging and varied conditions, severe damage to the mast meant that the crew were desperately disappointed at having to withdraw from the competition. It was soon clear that the boat would be out of the water for a considerable time. But Iain Percy’s Artemis Technologies in Belfast was quick to come to the rescue and made life somewhat easier for Minnis when they transported the 64-foot mast on a low loader to their HQ. So, two months after being taken ashore the Archambault 35 was back in the water. Final Call II came second at BTR despite the problems.

Final Call also raced in the RC 35 ChampionshipFinal Call also raced in the RC 35 Championship Photo: Afloat

Final Call also raced in the RC 35 Championship crossing the North Channel to the practically windless Largs event, Helensburgh and Rhu, the last cancelled due to Queen Elizabeth II's passing. John appreciated the help of Alastair and Nada, who helped by taking Final Call to Rhu.

Celtic Cup results

John said he and the crew have very much enjoyed Final Call’s first season in the RC 35 class:- “I would like to thank the class for their hospitality and would love to see them next year in Belfast Lough when Royal Ulster YC in Bangor hopes to host a special RC35 event. Thanks also to every member of the crew who have worked hard this season”.

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago