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Ballyholme Yacht Club's Junior Icebreaker Sailors Get Racing on Belfast Lough

15th December 2020
Topper's racing at Bangor for the first time since the Summer Topper's racing at Bangor for the first time since the Summer

Saturday 12th December saw an early Christmas present for Ballyholme Yacht Club junior sailors as racing returned for the first time since the end of the summer.

A steady 10-12 knots from the West allowed a windward-leeward course to be set using the club's turning mark, providing parents ashore with a grandstand view of the racers as they vied for position at the windward mark. The windward-leeward course setup was chosen over the regular club courses in order to give the sailors as much time as possible racing under championship type conditions, and the steady wind meant that once the course was laid, there were minimal alterations to be made.

Race one saw Daniel Palmer, Eva McDonagh and Hunter Reddy hit the front of the field early and race off into a lead which they held in that order to the finish. The final beat saw Henry Nelson and Joseph Robinson in a tight battle for third with Jojo winning by half a length on the finish line.

Race two really demonstrated how competitive the fleet is becoming with all fifteen Toppers hitting the start line within a few seconds of the start gun. Daniel Palmer was judged to have been OCS but didn't come back and restart for around 20 seconds giving him the challenge to catch back up with the pack. At the end of the first leg, the front of the fleet was dominated by the female sailors Eva, Annika, Romy and Isobel with Henry and Jojo in the mix for the boys. By the finish line, it was Daniel again taking line honours with Jojo once again beating Henry in a photo finish followed closely by Annika, Romy, Isabel and Eva.

The wind built slightly for the third and final race of the day with one or two capsizes before the sequence but all masts were pointing skywards for another close start. Halfway down the first run, it was Daniel Palmer leading from Jojo with Isabel, Annika, Eva, Henry and Finn Neely in the chasing pack. Jojo certainly had an edge of speed with a new sail and was kiting (heeling to windward). That was when it happened. A gust hit at the same time as an awkward wave and Jojo went into windward as the pack edged past. He righted the boat quickly and with great determination recovered over the next two laps to finish in sixth place. Daniel won with Henry in second and Isabel, Annika and Eva completing the top five.

The Topper 4.2 sailors racing on the course shared the race wins with Hannah Archer now leading overall from Jessica Dadley. We also have some sibling rivalry with Emily and Caitlyn Macafee, both competing in full rig toppers. They both have best-placed finishes of eight place with Caitlyn now eight overall and Emily twelfth after missing the last race. Also in a tight battle, Toran Davenport and Adil Mohamed are separated by just one point after three races after finishing all the races within one place of each other.

After two years of Junior Icebreaker, we have now seen some of our sailors "graduate" from toppers into other boats. Hannah Dadley in a Laser 4.7 was racing Dan Sherriff in his laser radial in a reduced laser fleet and shared line honours in the first two races with Dan winning the last race and Hannah scoring a DNF.

Covid restrictions mean we can only have same household double-handed sailing which means sisters Emily and Annabel Rideout in their RS Feva were the only double hander afloat but got great racing with the toppers and lasers and should have an advantage over other feva teams when they are allowed afloat hopefully in the not so distance future.

Afloat.ie Team

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