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Displaying items by tag: Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club

A week out, the dogs on the streets could have told us that the weather was not looking good for the last day of racing, and true enough, with a base rate of 18 knots gusting 33 knots and a miserable drizzle, it was decided early in the morning to call the final Frostie Series race for RS400s off at RNIYC on Belfast Lough.

It wasn’t a great shock to know who had finished where, as the results stood from the previous week.

The RS400s at the Royal North of Ireland dinghy park did not sail on the last day of the Frosties The RS400s at the Royal North of Ireland dinghy park did not sail on the last day of the Frosties due to strong winds

In third place was Luke McIlwaine from Newcastle Sailing Club with his crew Ryan Wilson from Carrickfergus Sailing Club.

In second place were Liam Donnelly and Rick McCaig, both from Carrickfergus Sailing Club and in 1st place was the ever-consistent but not flawless (only three capsizes this series) Peter Kennedy from Strangford Lough Sailing Club and Stevie Kane from RNIYC who picked up the Frostie Series Trophy for the second year in a row.

The RS400 Frosties Series, including the overall trophy, laid out at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on Belfast LoughThe RS400 Frosties Series, including the overall trophy, laid out at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on Belfast Lough

As for 2023, the RS400 & RS200 calendar is just about finalised. The events lined up so far are:

  • RS Westerns, 1st & 2nd April @ Galway City SC
  • RS Northerns, 6th & 7th May @ Strangford SC (Castleward)
  • Irish RS Games 30th June, 1st & 2nd July @ Blessington SC
  • RS400 UK Nationals 31st July – 4th August – Mounts Bay, Cornwall

The RS400 Frostie Series will be back at RNIYC next November and December.

RS400 Frosties Series Race Officer Gerry ReidRS400 Frosties Series Race Officer Gerry Reid

Published in RS Sailing

This year's Royal North of Ireland RS400 Winter Series 2022 represents the fifteenth year of the popular Belfast Lough sailing event.

It will kick off on Sunday, the 8th of November, for seven consecutive weeks up to the 18th of December.

With a regular 18 boats on the start line and a bonanza of boats turning up for the last day, GP14s are joining the RS 400’s for the last day, known as the Christmas race. A further twelve GPs are expected for that.

Last year a record 20 RS 400’s entered for the whole series. The Series draws boats and very talented sailors from all over the country, with one boat travelling all the way from Dublin.

Last year's winners, Peter Kennedy and Stephen Kane won a hard-fought battle, mostly coming down to the last day, with relentless pressure from Andrew Vaughan and veteran of the fleet Liam Donnelly. This year will see additional pressure from other contenders, Jane Kearney, or Tom Purdon perhaps. 

A busy Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club dinghy park at last year's RS400 Winter Series 2022 on Belfast LoughA busy Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club dinghy park at last year's RS400 Winter Series 2022 on Belfast Lough

The PRO Gerry Reid said, “A typical Sunday race will consist of three quick-fire races of about 20 minutes each. We bear in mind that it gets cold for the competitors and the event team, so we don’t hang about. This all came about back in 2007 when a few 400’ guys approached the Club and asked about a few races around Halloween, this developed into its present guise of, three races per day over 7 /8 weekends the numbers just built. We are delighted to keep this event going despite an interruption from Covid.”

Racing can be watched from the shore at Cultra, starting at 1.30 Sunday 6th November.

Racing at last year's Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club  hosted RS400 Winter Series 2022 on Belfast LoughRacing at last year's Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club hosted RS400 Winter Series 2022 on Belfast Lough

Published in RS Sailing

The Vaughan family in the Jeanneau 349 Toucan win the second Glenarm Race in Northern Ireland.

The chance to end the season on a high rewarded those who took part in the Royal North of Ireland annual Glenarm event in late September as the brisk Northerly kept them on their toes in a lively race.

The club lies at Cultra on the southern shore of Belfast Lough, and the destination Glenarm is a few miles north of Larne Harbour on the East Antrim Coast.

Nine boats entered the event he which is open to both racing crews and those who prefer the camaraderie of a cruise-in-company. The Vaughan family in the Jeanneau 349 Toucan, Gordon Patterson’s Sigma 362 Fanciulla, Woo Kearney in the Sigma 33 MaDeCoco and Johnny Parkes Oceanis Clipper 323 Pegasus left Cultra start line at 10:00. While Toucan made the decision to cross the Victoria shipping channel at the earliest opportunity preferring the relative shelter of the Co. Antrim side of the Lough they made it out of the Lough first, heading northeast to make the most of the tidal gains. They held firmly onto the first position until the finish off Glenarm.

The other three hugged the Co. Down coast on the way up the Lough. Next to finish was Fanciulla and having suffered a huge tear in their main sail and damage to their jib, this was no mean feat. However, it was MaDeCoCo that clinched second position from Fanciulla on corrected time, followed by Pegasus in fourth.

Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club's Glenarm Race resultsRoyal North of Ireland Yacht Club's Glenarm Race results

The five boats taking the cruise-in-company option timed their departure from Bangor Marina at 11:00, heading straight for Glenarm under engine and arriving amongst the finishing racing fleet. The strong Northerly against the north-flowing ebb resulted in a fairly bouncy sea state for those motoring, but they did have more time to appreciate the stunning east Antrim coast, and all enjoyed the hospitality on arrival.

A barbeque had been arranged by Conor Haslett at the Marina, and the winner’s trophy was awarded to the Toucan crew in front of a crowd of family and friends.

Published in Belfast Lough

Come Saturday 18th September, cruising boat owners from Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on Belfast Lough will be sailing north on the club's inaugural 'Glenarm Challenge'.

Glenarm is a small village on the famous Antrim Coast Road on the east of County Antrim, and it has a forty-eight berth marina, which includes a new ten berth pontoon.

This race will see offshore racing re-established at Royal North, and this year the race will hopefully start from one of the club lines at 1100 hrs and for those interested in a more leisurely day, it will be combined with a cruise-in-company. The event is limited to members only for this season, with the opportunity to make it an open event next year.

The germ of the idea started earlier this summer. Gordon Patterson's Sigma 362, Fanciulla threw the proverbial gauntlet down to Gavin Vaughan's New Jeanneau 349 Toucan, stating that he challenged his heavy displacement 36-footer against the new 34-foot light displacement boat in a race to Glenarm. So, word got back to the club's Honorary Sailing sec, who thought it a great idea if it were to be opened up to other cruiser owners within the club.

Gordon Patterson said that what makes it more interesting is "There are a few conditions which were part of the original challenge; Owner helm (helm to start and finish and spend at least 50% of the race on the helm); the start is from RNIYC and the crew must not exceed 4". He continued; "Gavin Vaughan and myself are putting some sponsorship together for a trophy, and this will consist of a crystal keeper and the perpetual Cup which will be named in honour of whoever wins between us on scratch handicap. Gavin would be the favourite as he would normally give the Sigma a little under two mins an hour, but if conditions are favourable, we are confident".

A late afternoon/evening social event near Glenarm marina is also being planned.

The NHC handicap race start will be from one of the club lines, and NoR and Sis will be issued shortly. It is hoped to organise a late afternoon or evening social event near the marina.

Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club still has places available for sailing courses and fun days this season.

The club lies on the North Down coast, near Holywood and enjoys safe waters in Belfast Lough.

The courses start on 5th July and run for 7 weeks till 20th August, covering a variety of RYA Stages from 1 and 2 in the first week running up to Stages 3 and 4 and are open to members and non-members from age 8 to 18. There are fun afternoons during that time and the course season ends with a fun week for everyone.

For those new cadets who are not sure about taking to the water for the full day, the Club provides two weeks for newcomers with half-day Stages 1 and 2 morning or afternoon sessions during the weeks 12th till 23rd July.

Cadet Officer Gillian Killiner encourages children and young people to take this valuable opportunity. She says, "We have a wonderful team of instructors waiting to teach your child how to sail or get them to the next stage in the beautiful and safe surroundings of Belfast Lough".

The courses can be booked online here

Cadet Summer Sailing at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on Belfast Lough is proving popular with much interest in the scheme which starts on Monday next (13th July).

Rear Commodore Sailing Jonny Millar, Cadet Officers John Driscoll and Gillian Killiner and the Hon Sailing Secretary Denis Todd have put together an attractive though restricted programme for the children.

Due to the current COVID 19 restrictions the sailing will run in a new format in order to get the Cadets on the water and remain safely within current guidance. There will be no access to the changing rooms, or any other rooms inside the clubhouse. This makes it impossible to run the usual RYA course structure. The new format will simply focus on getting children out sailing, improving their skills and confidence on the water.

Morning or afternoon sailing sessions will be bookable in fortnightly or weekly blocks. Morning sessions are for those looking to improve their sailing skills, afternoons for Cadets looking to start or improve their racing. These active sessions will be run by RYA qualified Senior and Dinghy Instructors. There will be no inside classroom sessions, just more time on the water! Group sizes will be limited and consequently, overall capacity is reduced.

Unfortunately, the restrictions do not allow shared boats or the close contact with instructors needed to run beginners’ courses. All sailors taking part will be sailing single-handedly. As the club is aware many younger Cadets want to learn to sail this situation will be kept under close review.

Online booking is open here

Rear Commodore House Lindsay Nolan says, “The new format is different to our usual, but the changes allow us to remain within current guidance and get some Cadet sailing. We look forward to seeing our Cadets on the water again this summer”.

Published in Belfast Lough

The start of the RS400 winter racing season begins at 2pm on Sunday at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on Belfast Lough. The annual RS400 Frostie Series, has grown over the years and this year the club expects to have over twenty boats lining up on the start line which is great for any double-handed class.

There will be three back to back races every Sunday. The beauty of it is that the races are short sprint style windward leeward’s with only two laps which makes it fun and exciting. The racing will go right up until Sunday 23rd December where the winner will be crowned and presented with the Trophy.

"The annual RS400 Frostie Series, has grown over the years and this year the club expects to have over twenty boats lining up"

Past winners have included Liam Donnelly & Rick McCaig, Trevor D’Arcy & Ginge, Robert Hastings & Rory Higgins and last year Paul McLaughlin and Own McKinley from Cushendall picked up the Bosun Bob’s Trophy.

So who is also in the mix this year? Bob Espey is getting in back in the saddle joined by Richard McCullough. Bob is a past winner of many of the regional events and one to watch. Barry Mac who has been dabbling with Fireballs, is joined up front with Andrew Penny. Chris and Jess Penny have a fairly fresh boat and aim to have the fleet behind them. Tiffany Briens & Oli Loughhead are joining forces this year and they have reportedly been out practicing. Hammy Baker will be back and has a newer boat. Sam Pickering, new to the fleet this year will be joined by Simon Martin. Peter Kennedy & Stevie Kane fresh from winning the “All Ireland Sailing Championships” are hoping to put some manners on the young bucks. 

RNIYC will be hosting the UK & Irish RS400 Nationals in August 2019, many crews have this well in their sights so will be using the Frostie Series as good practice. It is expected there will be one more boat purchased before the year is out.

Published in RS Sailing

Ireland's youngest ever Olympic helmsman won three of six races to be crowned Ulster Laser Champion yesterday at Royal North of Ireland. Finn Lynch, of the National Yacht Club, had a four point margin with six top three results but was chased hard by Ballyholme's Liam Glynn, who also had a consistent score sheet with five results in the top three to finish on 11 points. Kinsale Yacht Club's Darragh O'Sullivan was one point back to take third in the 13–boat fleet. Both Lynch and Glynn are on the Tokyo 2020 campaign trail, and benefited from a week of competition at the Sailing World Cup in Hyeres immediately before the Ulster event. 

Full results in each division are downloadable below.

The breeze on Belfast Lough held very well over the weekend despite fears to the contrary.  At eight to 13 knots, a mainly easterly wind had predictable shifts with a short and choppy sea for the combined turnout of 116–boats in three divisions.

As reported earlier, there were not many surprises in the six–race Radial division with Howth's Ewan McMahon staying top of the 32–boat fleet. Wexford Boat Club's Ronan Wallace was second with Aoife Hopkins of Howth Yacht Club third. A visting Norwegian girl Elnan Flotoft finished sixth.

Royal St. George's Tom Higgins was very quick in the 4.7 division with a scoresheet resembling Finn Lynch's. Higgins, a past UK and Irish Optimist Champion, had three race wins to be seven points clear of club mate Jack Fahy. Kinsale's Michael Caroll was third in the 24–boat fleet.

Published in Laser

Just before the presentation of prizes got underway yesterday at the Fireball Ulster Championships in the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club at Cultra the race officer Alistair Hunter asked to say a few words. It was one of those odd moments, nobody knew what was coming.. In the event he paid the fleet a huge compliment by declaring the Fireball racing at the Ulsters amongst the most competitive he had ever seen. He went on to say that he was astonished that there wasn’t a one recall over the six race event and yet about half the fleet shot through the start line at full speed bang on the gun every time.
The level of competition was remarkable given that a relatively small ten boat fleet made it up to the Ulsters. The event was dominated by Noel Butler/Stephen Oram who won five of the six races, and by Conor and James Clancy snapping at their heels with one bullet and a string of seconds. But the rest of the fleet immediately behind enjoyed extremely close racing. It was nip and tuck throughout the event with places changing on each leg of the courses and several finishes with a second or two between a string of finishers.
After a shaky start on Saturday the weather gods looked kindly upon the fleet – the first race took place in a very light westerly in an odd breeze which had all the hallmarks of a light thermal fighting a light gradient wind. It was snakes and ladders all the way up the beat until suddenly a Northerly kicked in. Spinnakers were hoisted and as the fleet converged on the mark from all directions a rib came charging down to declare the race abandoned. Quickly the PRO reset the course and the fleet got three decent races in, with enough pressure to allow trapezing on the beats. With a filling tide on Saturday most boats headed inshore to the shallows but the usual play-off between pressure, wind-shifts and tide applied so there was plenty to think about.
On Sunday with an earlier kick-off three races were sailed in a strong Northerly and an ebbing tide, and getting out into deeper water and a better tide was the way to go, except of course when it wasn’t! Again there were options, the chop in the middle of the course was hard work and by the second race in particular the breeze in the middle had gone patchy while there was a decent vein of wind to be harvested on the southern shore. By race three the tide was flat but pressure had improved again in the middle, proved by Louise McKenna/Hermine O’Keeffe who took out three boats by a foray to the left, and bagging a fourth place finish into the bargain.
Second overall in the event were the Clancy brothers with Niall McGrotty/Neil Cramer a deserving third with consistent third and fourth place finishes in most races. Behind them Michael Ennis/Marie Barry had a very good event at 4th overall in Ennis’s old home waters, and Alan Henry/Simon Revill on equal points showed that though relatively new to the fleet they are very quickly working their way up through the ranks. Frank Miller/Grattan Donnelly showed early promise with a 3rd place finish in the first race but had a mixed second day which left them in 6th overall. Neil Colin/Margaret Casey were 7th, Louise McKenna/Hermine O’Keeffe 8th and Dara McDonagh/Neil Duke took the silver trophy over Ulster sailors Brian O’Neill/Craig Ossler, both sailing classic Fireballs.
Overall this was a superb event – the race officer delivered the fastest race turnarounds the class has ever seen, and his proactive management of the marks for wind variation between rounds and his time management was superb. One race came in at exactly the suggested 60 minutes, another at 57! The club itself delivered warm and efficient hospitality under event director Fenton Parsons. On the Saturday night the class sat down to a fine curry in the private dining dining room followed by entertainment by the Pikestone Preachers , with Fenton double-jobbing as drummer with his band. The next regional event is the Open event in Wexford on July 3rd/4th, but club racing continues in DBSC and in Killaloe and a scattering of Fireballs are expected out in the Dun Laoghaire regattas.


(above) Race officer Alistair Hunter gets his just reward from class chairman Marie Barry; and (below) second and third overall with event director Fenton Parsons. Photos: Frank Miller




Published in Fireball

There was a time when the local sailing club was a social centre for children, where they got their first ‘taste’ of sailing as a ‘fun’ and enjoyable occasion without the stress of competition and performance separating them from each other, based on their “sporting prowess.”

In the past few weeks I have learned from readers and listeners who have contacted me that there is more than one aspect of exclusivity about sailing and my opening description this week is compiled from what I have been told since I first expressed concern that the public perception of elitism in sailing may be excluding a wider coterie of people from participation in the sport.

The Irish Sailing Association has responded with the launch of the ‘Try Sailing Programme’ and a number of clubs have introduced Crew Point’ for newcomers to be introduced to the sport, which are positive initiatives, but ‘sailor/parents’ have referred me to their concerns that representative “squads” and “teams” lauded by clubs can deter youngsters who do not reach the perceived sporting parameters from continuing in the sport..

There is a dichotomy between the desire of clubs to be well represented nationally, which builds their reputations and similarly, for Ireland to do the same at international level, which necessitates identifying and developing high performers. Sailing is not the only sport needing the sustenance of success, but what about maintaining the interest of those who do not aspire to or succeed at the higher levels? Clubs are not founded on the success of “squads,” or “teams” or individual “stars” but on strong committed ‘ordinary’ members, the foundation for the future.

The Vice-Commodore of Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, based at Holywood, Co.Down, is Michael Meharg, who has been telling me about the development of the concept of the ‘Regatta Club’ on Belfast Lough, mixing fun, the sociability of sailing and a gentle introduction to racing for young sailors, while at the same time increasing club membership, participation and introducing newcomers to the sport:

“You are probably aware of the RYA's "Push the Boat Out" initiative, encouraging "come and try it" days at the various yacht clubs? My club, RNIYC, has been running these days for the last five years with good results. We are holding our next one on May 22.”

He went on to tell me of a bigger concept, currently being launched, called ‘Regatta Club’ with a focus on young sailors. Michael is an RYA Senior Instructor with 30 years’ experience of training children, is easy to listen to and explains the concept well on this week’s THIS ISLAND NATION PODCAST, which you can hear below.

“As you rightly point out, a lot of organisations are racing-focussed and in my experience, many of the youngsters coming out of their first courses have neither the experience nor confidence to go straight into racing/squad training and prefer to sail for the fun and sociable side of things. If these opportunities are not there, we lose them! At the same time, Regatta attendance in Belfast Lough has been declining for some time now.”

Regatta Club’ aims to encourage youngsters from 8-to-18 years into "sociable sailing” and, perhaps, return to those days when children loved to go down to ‘the club’ to go sailing and the sport captured their lifetime interest as a result. Saturday, June 4, off Grey Point in Helen’s Bay, is the inaugural event and there is an open invitation to Afloat readers.

    • Listen to the podcast below.

Published in Island Nation
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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