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Nine young sailors from Northern Ireland travelled to England last weekend to compete in the Eric Twiname 2022 Championships at Rutland Sailing Club in the East Midlands.

The first Eric Twiname event took place in 1986 and has seen thousands of young sailors, including Olympians past and present take part. Sailing stars Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy were among the early winners of the regatta before going on to Olympic greatness.

The regatta took place on the 3000-acre Rutland Water and is named in memory of legendary sailor, author and journalist Eric Twiname. It is regarded by many young racers as a rite of passage as they continue their journey to become top-level competitors.

Twiname made his name in sailing, winning numerous national titles in a range of dinghy classes, as well as in team racing where he captained the British Universities Sailing Association.

Daniel Palmer of Ballyholme YC - 4th overall in the ILCA 4

Northern Ireland had six compete in the huge 110 strong Topper 5.3 fleet over five races and best performer was Bobby Driscoll of Royal North and Ballyholme Yacht Clubs on Belfast Lough. He came fifth overall with results never above ninth. His best placing was a third.

Autumn Halliday of Strangford Lough YC and Ballyholme clocked a seventh as her best result finishing in 27th place. She was closely followed by Cormac Byrne from Strangford Sailing Club and Ballyholme whose best placings were two ninths. Also competing were Emily McAfee, Isabelle Nixon, and Hugo Boyd also of Ballyholme

In the ILCA4 fifty-five strong fleet were Daniel Palmer of Royal North and BYC who finished in an excellent fourth slot with a third in the last race. In that fleet also was Callum Jackson from Coleraine and Portrush on the North Coast and Lucy Ives from the opposite end of the region, Carlingford Lough Yacht Club on the South Down coast.

RYA Northern Ireland posted on Facebook “ Some great results and lessons learned by all. No time to rest though as we are back training next weekend with our Youth Performance Topper Sailors”.

Published in Youth Sailing

The Irish Sailing Association and Ballyholme Yacht Club have thanked the RNLI and HM Coastguard for their assistance at the Youth Sailing Championships on Belfast Lough on Saturday.

In a statement, the organisers said a 'small number' of competitors had minor injuries. One person was taken to hospital for observation following a concussion.

No serious injuries occurred and all competitors are fully accounted for, the organisers said.

A number of competitors also retired from racing and sailed ashore without incident when wind against tide created difficult conditions at the under 18-championships.

Six sailors were brought ashore on safety ribs. An official rigid inflatable (RIB) also capsized in shallow water.

"We are grateful to the RNLI and HM Coastguard for their response and support when they were alerted as part of the event safety protocols," Harry Hermon, CEO of Irish Sailing said.

On the third day of racing at the Irish Sailing Youth National Championships in Bangor, Co. Down (Saturday 23rd April 2022) a number of minor incidents are being managed by the contingency arrangements agreed with Ballyholme Yacht Club.

The event with over 200 young sailors competing concludes today.

Published in Youth Sailing
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Challenging conditions on Belfast Lough were to the liking of Howth's Rocco Wright on the second day of racing at the Irish Youth Sailing National Championships at Ballyholme Yacht Club in Northern Ireland.

The Howth teen has moved into the overall lead of the ILCA 6/Radial fleet after four races sailed. The former Optimist ace has a two-point margin over day one leader Jonathan O'Shaughnessy of Royal Cork Yacht Club. Third is Howth YC's Luke Turvey on the same 17 points as the Crosshaven youth. 

At least four races have been completed in the series so far but in spite of a promising start and the hoped for four-race day, the wind quickly died and just two races were sailed.

The steep rolling swell made for difficult launching at Ballyholme but all sailors managed to avoid the heavy surf before reaching the open course areaThe steep rolling swell made for difficult launching at Ballyholme but all sailors managed to avoid the heavy surf before reaching the open course area.  

Ava Ennis (Royal St. George Yacht Club) narrowly leads the 28-boat ILCA4 event with a one-point advantage over Ballyholme's Daniel Palmer.

Ballyholme sailor, Bobby Driscoll leads the 48-boat Topper 5.3 event ahead of a string of local rivals.

Crosshaven's Oisin Pearce of Royal Cork Yacht Club has established an 18-point lead after five races in the 49-strong Optimist fleet.

Ben O' Shaughnessy and Eimer McMorrow Moriarty of RCYC lead the eight boat 29er skiffs by five points from clubmates James Dwyer and Andrew Conan. Lying third after four races sailed is Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey of the RStGYC. 

Jack McDowell and Henry Thompson of Malahide Yacht Club continue to lead the 420 fleet on 15 points after four races sailed. Clubmates Imogen Hauer and Hugo Micka are second on 24 points. Waterford Harbour's Max Sweetman and Robert Jephson from Waterford Harbour are third on 25 points.

Published in Youth Sailing
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On the first day of racing at the 2022 Irish Youth Sailing National Championships at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough on Thursday, the event got off to a staggered start with four of the six classes racing. 

A 50-strong Optimist contingent had, what organisers termed 'a false start of sorts' when the fleet sailed to the wrong first mark and the first race had to be abandoned.

In the following two races, Caoilinn Geraghty-McDonnell of the Royal St. George YC emerged as overnight leader from Royal Cork's Oisin Pearse with a slim two boat lead.

Three races had been planned originally for all four classes but the fresh breeze dropped off mid-afternoon.

Nevertheless, two races were enough for Jonathan O'Shaughnessy (Royal Cork YC) to establish a six-point lead over no fewer than five Dublin boats tied for second place amongst the 38 Laser/ILCA6 single-handers.

The group includes Howth's Eve McMahon, the Under 17 World ILCA6 World Champion who was beaten into third place in the opening race right at the finish by O'Shaughnessy and would otherwise have edged ahead in the standings.

"We got two races, it didn't rain so I think everyone's pretty happy," said Olympian and International Umpire Bill O'Hara who is on the race management team this week. "When we went out we were expecting it to be full-on with 15-16 knots and some gusts to 20 and we didn't have any reason to think it wouldn't drop til five o'clock. But the forecast is brilliant (for the next few days) with wind from the northeast and nice, big rolling waves."

In the eight boat 29er skiff event, the lead is tied between Ben O'Shaughnessy with Eimer McMorrow Moriarty and James Dwyer with Andrew Conan both from the Royal Cork YC in Crosshaven.

Jack McDowell with Henry Thompson (Malahide Yacht Club) proved most consistent for the day in the 420 event with two race wins in the eleven-boat class. Racing continues on Friday with all classes due on the water from 11 am. 

Published in Youth Sailing

The RYA Youth Sailing National Championships returned to Pwllheli, North Wales, over the Easter break as the 2022 champions were crowned across seven youth fleets.

Last hosting the premier youth sailing regatta in 2016, Plas Heli welcomed 280 youngsters from all over the country (and from across the Irish Sea) for five days of racing from 9-15 April.

As Afloat reported earlier, there was a fine showing from Northern Ireland female sailors and there was a Republic of Ireland wild card presence in Wales too (See the full results link below)

With the 2021 Youth Nationals spread across two weekends and two venues, the 2022 edition saw all the youth fleets together in one place for the first time as the kite foilers joined the iQFOiL, 420, Nacra 15, 29er and ILCA6 in competition.

Despite contending with unstable wind and weather conditions throughout the week, everyone but the kite and board fleets came very close to completing their full schedules in tough race conditions that varied from sunny to foggy.

Although enduring a tougher week onshore, the iQFOiL and kite sailors still completed enough races to confirm their national champions.

Mark Nicholls, the RYA’s Youth Racing Manager, said: “Year after year at the Youth Nationals I am amazed by the strength and resilience of our nation's young sailors.

“They have had a few tough years, as has everyone, and the start of the regatta was no different. But, yet again, they dealt with everything thrown at them with fortitude.

“There was some great racing as always and congratulations to all the winners, but as well as medals we also give out spot prizes for British Youth Sailing values and behaviours, and this was the hardest job for us.

“As regatta organisers it is fantastic to see these young sailors coming together to help each other and support each other. It’s so heartening to know the future of our sport is in such good hands.”

The Youth National Championships is the flagship event of British Youth Sailing, which aims to develop and retain the world's best young dinghy racers, windsurfers and kitefoilers.

British Youth Sailing also sets young people up for a lifetime in sailing, whether in Olympic classes, club dinghy racing or yachts, or as coaches and race officials and teaches them valuable skills and behaviours to take into their adult lives.

kite foilers joined the iQFOiL

BYS Behaviours and Values Award winners:

‘Courage and Determination’
George and Tom Blunt – 420 (male) - Whitstable YC

Endeavour Award
George Creasy – 420 (male) - West Kirby SC

Warsash Plate – Youngest Helm
Joseph Jones – 420 (male) - Burghfield SC

Harken Competition winner
Toby Smith – 29er (male) - Royal Hospital School

The winners in each class were:

420 (female)
Megan FARRER (Emsworth SC) and Ellie RUSH (Nottinghamshire County SC)

420 (male)
Henry HEATHCOTE and Hector BENNETT (both Royal Lymington YC)

420 mixed
Alice DAVIS (Draycote Water SC) and Oliver RAYNER (Yorkshire Dales SC)

29er (female)
Ellen MORLEY and Hazel MCDONNELL (both Hollowell SC)

29er (male)
Santiago SESTO-COSBY (Royal Lymington YC) and Leo WILKINSON (Maidenhead SC)

29er mixed
Annabelle VINES (Royal Lymington YC) and Raulf BERRY (Hayling Island SC)

Nacra 15
Sam STEWARD (Brading Haven YC) and Isobel SMITH (Starcross YC)

Kite foiling (female)
Francesca MAINI (BKA)

Kite foiling (male)

ILCA6 (female)

ILCA6 (male)
Tommie GRITT (Royal Hospital School)

iQFOiL (female)
Lucy KENYON (Parkstone YC)

iQFOiL (male)
Charlie DIXON (Blackwater YC)

Full results from the regatta can be found here.

420 dinghy

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Northern girls shone at the RYA Youth Nationals last week with Ellen Barbour of County Antrim Yacht Club at Whitehead and East Antrim BC at Larne making her mark in the Women’s ILCA/Laser 6 fleet with a convincing third overall.

There was a huge fleet of around 300 competitors across seven classes in this big event in Pwllheli, North Wales.

Ellen’s scores were never lower than 10 except for a UFD (a premature start) in the first race which was one of her discards, but with five first places she proved a force to be reckoned with in the 13-race event.

Ellen Barbour - 3rd in the ILCA 6 fleetEllen Barbour - 3rd in the ILCA 6 fleet

Also, up there in the top half of the 23 strong fleet was Zoe Whitford from East Antrim who had impressive scores in the top dozen except Race 7 for which she had to count 24 for a DNE (disqualification) – and she actually was the first finisher in that race.

Zoe Whitford  - 7th in the ILCA 6 fleetZoe Whitford - 7th in the ILCA 6 fleet

Eleventh in the 39 strong 29er fleet was the Royal North/Newcastle duo, Lauren McDowell and Erin McIlwaine whose best races were two fifths.

Erin McIlwaine and Lauren McDowell (pictured centre) in the 29er fleetErin McIlwaine and Lauren McDowell (pictured centre) in the 29er fleet

Tom Coulter of East Antrim finished 17th in the ILCA (Men) with a varied set of results, his best performances being a seventh, eighth and ninth in the 61-boat fleet.

Tom Coulter of East Antrim finished 17th in the ILCA (Men)Tom Coulter of East Antrim finished 17th in the ILCA (Men)

The next big event for some of the Pwllheli competitors will be the Irish Youth Sailing Nationals at Ballyholme on Belfast Lough for which Olympian Finn Lynch's top tip to competitors is to "not focus on the result but to try learn as much as possible!" And local sailor Liam Glynn who has recently retired adds that as having grown up sailing in Ballyholme, warns that the wind can often be very shifty and gusty and since it’s close to the land, it’s hard to see what’s coming down towards you. Therefore, sailors will need to react quickly and sail their own race with whatever they’ve got in front of them, not what somebody else has on the other side of the racecourse!

Published in Youth Sailing
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The 190-strong fleet at the RYA Youth Nationals hosted by Pwllheli Sailing Club in North Wales this week should be a good run-up to the Irish Youth Sailing Nationals next week at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough where around 200 competitors are expected.

So far, the best performances have been delivered by Zoe Whitford of East Antrim BC in the ILCA 6 Women’s class and Ellen Barbour of County Antrim YC/EABC in the same fleet.

Lying fourth in the 23 strong fleet after six races and scoring two first places, Barbour is just one point better than Whitford at fifth so with two more days to go the contest between them is hotting up.

Sailors from East Antrim, County Antrim and Carrickfergus at the RYA Youth NationalsSailors from East Antrim, County Antrim and Carrickfergus at the RYA Youth Nationals

Making their mark in the 29er fleet are Erin McIlwaine and Lauren McDowell from Royal North and Newcastle Yacht Clubs who are seventh overall after today’s racing.

Tom Coulter (213562) at the RYA Youth Nationals in WalesTom Coulter (213562) at the RYA Youth Nationals in Wales

The best placing in the ILCA 6 (Men’s) is Tom Coulter from East Antrim BC at 14th.

Other NI competitors are Lucas Nixon (Ballyholme), Matthew McClernon (East Antrim and Carrickfergus) and Daniel Corbett (County Antrim YC). Another East Antrim competitor, Kelly Patterson had entered under GBR.

Published in Youth Sailing
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The rising young stars in Ireland's ILCA 6 aka Laser class have had a very successful outing to the seasonal opener of the XVII Andalusian Olympic Week in southern Spain. In a hugely popular win for the times that are in it, the convincing victor was Andrii Verdysh of Ukraine on a scoreline for Gold in which he discarded a third, and came in with four firsts and two seconds.

Royal Cork's Jonathan O'Shaughnessy discarded a 7th from a scoreline of 2,2,4,2,2, and 4 to take Silver, while Howth's Rocco Wright took the Bronze on very improving form as it was he who pushed Verdysh into his two concluding seconds by taking a couple of wins, his other scores with a sixth discarded being 4,5, 6 & 6.

Fiachra McDonnell of Royal St George was next best of the Irish on 6th overall.

Published in Youth Sailing
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Over 450 of the world’s very best youth sailors from 69 countries have confirmed their participation in the Allianz Youth World Sailing Championships 2022. Taking place off the coast of Scheveningen in The Hague, The Netherlands, from 8-15 July 2022, the Championships are open to young sailing stars up to the age of 19.

Competitors at the Championships represent their respective countries as they do at the Olympic Games, as the only entrants in their class. The prestigious event is seen as the stepping stone to the Sailing World Championships and a major indicator of future success in the sport. Almost all current Olympic champions have competed in previous editions of the Youth Sailing World Championships.

Kiteboarding has been included for the second time, reflecting the growth of the Kite class in recent years. The discipline will make its long-awaited debut as an Olympic event at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and many of the young sailors competing in The Hague will have an eye on making the transition to the Formula Kite class ahead of the forthcoming Olympics.

David Graham, CEO, World Sailing, said, "The Allianz Youth Sailing World Championships is a prestigious event in the World Sailing calendar and we are looking forward to the event in The Hague. The combination of a natural beach and the North Sea winds will make for an exciting competition, and a true test of sailing skills for the world’s brightest prospects."

Tournament Director, Dorian van Rijsselberghe, two-time RS:X Windsurfing Olympic champion, said, "I am really looking forward to this role and to giving something back to the sport that has given me so much. I'm not talking about the medals, but the fun, the camaraderie, the road to get there and the enjoyment to be had. We will make sure that all participants will not forget The Hague and that the whole sports-loving Netherlands can watch and enjoy the action from close by. Fun and performance go hand in hand, and where better for that to happen than in Scheveningen."

For the sailors taking part, the Allianz Youth Sailing World Championships is much more than just a sailing competition. With a daily entertainment and social schedule, the event aims to create lifelong friendships across borders, nurturing lifelong friendships and opportunities to learn from each other.

The Hague will also host the Sailing World Cup over two weeks in August 2023, also from the port of Scheveningen. The event is expected to see 1,400 sailors from 90 countries compete for the world titles in the ten Olympic and three Paralympic sailing classes.

Published in Youth Sailing
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The Eric Twiname Junior Championships is back after a two-year absence – and entries are now open.

The RYA’s iconic “battle of the regions” pits young sailors from across the country against each other, representing their RYA Region or Home Country.

But the regatta is so much more than just a competition – it’s as much about nurturing young sailors in a racing environment and empowering them to learn and develop.

The Eric Twiname Junior Championships, lovingly known as the ETs, will once again return to long-term hosts Rutland Sailing Club from April 30 to May 2.

Eric Twiname Junior Championships

It takes place in the British Youth Sailing recognised junior classes – Optimist, RS Tera Sport, RS Feva, Topper and ILCA 4 dinghies plus four different rig sizes of Bic Techno windsurfer.

This year, ETs entry for the ILCA 4 and RS Tera Sport classes is open to all young sailors. Entry for the Optimist, RS Feva, Topper and Bic Techno is by invite, through British Youth Sailing’s Regional Training Groups.

Chris Atherton, RYA National Performance Manager, said: “After a two-year forced absence we are absolutely delighted to see the Eric Twiname Junior Championships back with a bang.

“Huge thanks go to Rutland Sailing Club, long-term supporters of this much-loved event, who have once again made this year’s event possible with their backing and generosity.

“We can’t wait to see everyone at Rutland over the early May bank holiday for a long weekend of great sailing and racing, and lots of fun.”

The first event took place in 1986 and has seen thousands of young sailors compete, including Olympians past and present. Sailing stars Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy were among the early winners of the regatta before going on to Olympic greatness.

The regatta, named in memory of legendary sailor, author and journalist Eric Twiname, is regarded by many young racers as a rite of passage as they continue their journey to become top-level racers.

Twiname made his name in sailing winning numerous national titles in a range of dinghy classes, as well as in team racing where he captained the British Universities Sailing Association.

He was also greatly influential in shaping the Racing Rules which govern racing in the UK, sitting on the RYA’s Racing Rules Committee and working as the Racing Rules Advisor to the British Olympic Association.

For more information, and to enter, click here.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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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