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Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough – The First 50 Years Book is Published

26th November 2020
Ballyholme Yacht Club dinghy park in the late 1950s Ballyholme Yacht Club dinghy park in the late 1950s

Eric and Barbara Mayne had been active sailing and committee members of Ballyholme Yacht Club for many years. Eric had been a past Hon Secretary and Commodore and Barbara held many and various positions on Committees. They undertook the mammoth task of producing a history of the first 50 years of what is reputedly the 'premier dinghy and training club in Northern Ireland'.

It has always been located at Ballyholme on Belfast Lough, on the mile-wide bay to the east of the town of Bangor, well sheltered from all points except the north where a long fetch in a strong wind produces big waves which were the demise of many moored yachts ending up on the beach. That all stopped when Bangor Marina was built in the late eighties, and the moored boats migrated to that shelter location in Bangor town.

Ballyholme Yacht Club jetty in the early days of the clubBallyholme Yacht Club jetty in the early days of the club

The Club had its birth as Ballyholme Sailing Club in 1900 on a portion of land at Dufferin Villas on the east of the bay and eventually, by 1908, decided to move to its present location on the western side. In 1909 the Club bought land on the south side of the Seacliff Road and built a new wooden clubhouse.

Ballyholme Yacht Club and its wooden pavilion in 1909Ballyholme Yacht Club and its wooden pavilion in 1909

The book takes us through, year by year till 1969, the development, classes, events, and members' achievements, as well as intriguing facts, gleaned from minutes of meetings.

BYC Flag officers in the early daysBYC Flag officers in the early days

Eric and Barbara quote liberally from the Club minutes and have said " To provide more interest, we have included some concurrent events, not all-important, or sailing. We hope you enjoy them." Among those interesting anecdotes are several about the Cadet and Junior members, not all of whom behaved in an 'acceptable' manner. 1953 – "They also regard the grounds as a sports arena and run around shouting like madmen". What has changed? And notable were the objections by local clergy to Sunday sailing.

Sailing was first held in keelboats such as Rivers, Cruisers, Waverleys and Lakes which were on permanent moorings in the bay. Eventually, dinghies were introduced among which were Insects (which were also on moorings), GP14s, Enterprises, and Cadets. The Club produced Irish, World and International champions. Bill Whisker and Jimmy McKee won the World GP14 event in 1965, the same year in which Burton Allen became British Champion and Ken Hawtin topped the Irish Enterprises in 1967.

Ballyholme Yacht Club's Insect classBallyholme Yacht Club's Insect class

Regattas weren't always as we know them. In 1919 the August event included Fancy Dress, Wheelbarrow races, Three-legged races, and possibly the forerunner of the Triathlon – Combined Running, Wading and Swimming Races!

Over the years the Club hosted many large events including in 1959 the first-ever Irish Dinghy Racing Association Championships to be held in Northern Ireland. In that same year, other anecdotal gems were recounted; " the main topic of discussion at the September General Committee meeting was capsizing. Six incidents were reported!

And another now very well-known sailor had sailed out of bounds in his Cadet and on another occasion was out in 'adverse weather conditions and when the light was failing'. He was suspended till the end of the year. It didn't put him off sailing.

Ballyholme Yacht Club HistoryThe Ballyholme Yacht Club History

Commodore Aidan Pounder welcomed the publication. "I was delighted to learn of Eric and Barbara Maine's interest in compiling a history encompassing the first 50 years of Ballyholme Yacht Club to print. Eric and Barbara have put an enormous amount of time and effort into their research, and I very much look forward to reading about our Club's early years".

Eric and Barbara added, " We hope you enjoy reading this book and we look forward to someday reading an account of the next fifty years".

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

Email The Author

Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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