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Ballyholme Yacht Club Regatta Had Something for Everyone on Belfast Lough

19th July 2021
A race start at Ballyholme Yacht Club Regatta
A race start at Ballyholme Yacht Club Regatta

There was non-stop activity at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough at the weekend (July 17th/18th) for the Regatta which enjoyed day-long hot sunny weather. Though lacking any decent breeze on a Saturday morning for the Cadet racing, just enough appeared to get two races. A reasonable north easterly filled in eventually during the afternoon.

In what used to be a one day sailing event, this now two-day celebration also provided races for Stand Up Paddleboarding, Swimming, and Kayaking, now all official club activities, not only for adults but for children as well.

First on the water on the Saturday morning were the Cadets for their own special Regatta, sailing in Laser Picos, SailQubes, Topper 4.2 and Topper 5.3 classes. After a postponement due to lack of wind, 32 Toppers gathered on the start line and racing got going in a light north-easterly on a windward/leeward course. The first race was secured by Daniel Palmer, with Joseph Robinson and Toby Hughes in 2nd and 3rd places respectively. In the Topper 4.2 fleet, Hugo Boyd grabbed the honours with Natalie Palmer coming in 2nd. In the second shorter race, the finishing positions were Bobby Driscoll, Daniel and Toby in 1st, 2nd, 3rd places respectively. In the Topper 4.2s, it was Hugo and Natalie 1st and 2nd again.

Ballyholme Yacht Club Cadets prepare ready to launch Toppers and Pico dinghiesBallyholme Yacht Club Cadets prepare ready to launch Toppers and Pico dinghies

In the light breeze, the Qubes and Picos found it difficult to fight their way through the Topper fleet's dirty wind. Emily-May Gillespie won the Picos and Emma Westhurst made a valiant effort in taking the Qube around the course.

The afternoon saw sail racing to which traditionally all the Belfast Lough clubs are invited, as set out in the Belfast Lough Regatta Conference information, and eleven stars were catered for the 101 boats who took part.

Winners in the NHC classes were Chris Boyd's Puppeteer Free Spirit; the Quarter Tonner, Snoopy (Martin Mahon and Joanne Hall); the Lindsay family's Beneteau 31.7, Caesium; the Sigma 33 Mithril (Mark Mackey and Andrea Fordham) and the Ruffian 23 Brigand owned by Commodore Aidan Pounder. The Mirror class winners were Ian and Aaron Moore, Laser Standard, James Moore; GP14 S Nelson, Laser Radial Jess Winton and the Catamaran F18 M McMurtry.

Anneka Hunter winner of the Cadet swim with Alan Whyte, Club CaptainAnneka Hunter winner of the Cadet swim with Alan Whyte, Club Captain

Ballyholme's efforts to expand the range of water-related activities has certainly borne fruit with many new members joining to take part in the organised Paddleboarding, Open Water Swimming and Kayaking as well as Sailing. One family, the Quittenehs, who moved back to Northern Ireland in 2019, has joined the club after taking part in the open water swimming which then, pre Covid, was open to anyone. They subsequently became members and now are involved in several club activities as well as volunteering. They found as complete beginners, Melanie says, "the support and encouragement as non-sailors in getting our kids on the water has been fabulous and we have benefitted so much since joining".

The scene ashore at Ballyholme Yacht Club Regatta dayThe scene ashore at Ballyholme Yacht Club Regatta day

Another of the Club's efforts to spread the sport of sailing among young people is the use of the Commodore's Ruffian 23 Brigand to encourage youngsters into big boat sailing. A 12-year-old helped crew Brigand in the Regatta and in Royal Ulster racing on Thursday nights, there would regularly be up to four nine- to fourteen-year-olds aboard.

Winner of the Ladies' swim Caroline Mitchelson with Alan Whyte, Club CaptainWinner of the Ladies' swim Caroline Mitchelson with Alan Whyte, Club Captain

Commodore Aidan Pounder was pleased at how the Regatta went " "I am delighted to say that another fantastic Ballyholme Yacht Club Regatta weekend was had by its Members and visitors. With 101 boats competing, superb weather and a great atmosphere, you couldn't ask for more". 

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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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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