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Displaying items by tag: Ballyholme Yacht Club

Rutland Sailing Club in England’s East Midlands was a hub of energy over the May Bank Holiday weekend (4-6 May) as some 300 junior sailors — including nine from Northern Ireland — took to the water for the highly anticipated RYA Eric Twiname Junior Championships.

The event, now in its 36th edition, encourages junior sailors to race and represent their region or home country in the British Youth Sailing recognised junior classes of Optimist, Topper, RS Tera, RS Feva and Techno windsurfer.

The North region, having shared the spoils with the South West last year, won the prestigious Eric Twiname Shield outright this year, which is awarded to the overall winning region or home country.

The North region also picked up the Eric Twiname Dinghy Trophy, with London & South East’s windsurfing talents impressing to take home the Eric Twiname Windsurfing Cup.

This year’s event introduced new formats such as short-course and long-course races that injected a fresh feel to the competition which was well received by the young racers.

“The purpose of these new-style races is to make sailing more appealing to competitors and spectators alike,” said RYA Northern Ireland performance manager Andrew Baker.

Ballyholme YC sent a contingent of nine young sailors to the 2024 RYA Eric Twiname Championships over the May Bank Holiday weekend Ballyholme YC sent a contingent of nine young sailors to the 2024 RYA Eric Twiname Championships over the May Bank Holiday weekend

“Shorter races guarantee more boat-on-boat interaction and a need for the sailors to think quickly, therefore improving their abilities.

“Mainstream sailing is moving towards shorter, more intense racing including future potential Olympic race formats. Events such as SailGP match racing and team racing series have already been running shorter races for a number of seasons.”

Among the notable additions was the RS Tera Pro class to this year’s event that increased the diversity of the racing fleet, as well as the new introduction of bibs for frontrunners which added an extra layer of competitiveness.

Sailing conditions on Saturday were optimal, providing a perfect backdrop for the juniors to battle it out. Amid the intensity of competition, juniors and parents found moments to reconnect with friends and families as well as strategising for upcoming races or simply enjoying the vibrant event atmosphere.

Sunday brought its own set of challenges, with a slightly delayed start due to the lack of wind, necessitating practice sessions led by coaches that offered valuable insights and exercises to eager participants. As the breeze picked up, racing resumed under sunny skies, albeit with tricky wind conditions. Fortunately, the originally forecasted rain held off, allowing for a full schedule of racing across three course areas.

Chris Atherton, RYA junior racing manager extended his appreciation to all involved: “A huge thanks to Rutland Sailing Club for their hospitality and for the collective effort of parents, umpires, coaches, race officers and volunteers that all pulled together and contributed to the event's success.”

Full results are available from the RYA website HERE.

The Northern Ireland squad consisted of sailors from Ballyholme Yacht Club in the Feva, ILCA and Topper classes:

RS Feva
Annabel & Emily Ridout
Sally Nixon & Jessica Dadley-Young

Hugo Boyd
Isabel Nixon
Emily Mcafee

Sophie Cairns
Polly Robinson

Published in Youth Sailing

Since the doors opened for the European ILCA 6 Championships at Ballyholme Yacht Club a few weeks ago, 388 applications for 440 places have been received.

The club lies on the north shore of County Down near the mouth of Belfast Lough and has vast experience hosting top-level competitions. It is ideally placed to run a huge regatta like this, with most of the lough providing a vast area of virtually tide - and hazard-free water, as well as ample boat and car parking ashore.

Applicants are from 26 countries across Europe including some from Northern Ireland and from young sailors hailing from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Thailand, Qatar and Brazil.

The event will take place over eight days, from 27 July to 3 August 2024. The qualifying rounds will decide who will race in the Gold, Silver, and Bronze divisions.

Aidan Pounder, one of the event organisers, is delighted with the support for this major event thus far. “Although there were 388 entries at last year’s event in Poland, we believed that we should be more modest with our expectations given that Northern Ireland is a long journey for many sailors coming from continental Europe. It seems that, in fact, we underestimated the dedication that these sailors have for their sport and that they are indeed keen to make the journey for what we hope will be a cracking event.

Applicants for the European ILCA 6 Championships at Ballyholme Yacht Club are from 26 countries across Europe including some from Northern Ireland and from young sailors hailing from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Thailand, Qatar and BrazilApplicants for the European ILCA 6 Championships at Ballyholme Yacht Club are from 26 countries across Europe including some from Northern Ireland and from young sailors hailing from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Thailand, Qatar and Brazil

Among applications from Northern Ireland sailors for the event are those from Autumn Halliday from Strangford Lough YC, Lucy Ives from Carlingford, Daniel Palmer from the host club and Rory Pollard and Luke Simpson from County Antrim YC as well as Cormac Byrne of Strangford Lough YC and Ballyholme.

Trevor Millar, one of the founders of the fledgling Laser fleet at Ballyholme is looking forward to bringing a team to the Euros: “Heading to Ballyholme Yacht Club, where it all began for me, starting one of the first Laser classes in Ireland along with Ron Hutchieson. After some 50 years, it will feel like returning to familiar waters after a long voyage. The postponement during Covid of the ILCA 6 Youth Europeans was a bitter setback. Returning this July fills me with a profound sense of homecoming and anticipation. The club, having hosted the 1979 European Championships, was not just a backdrop for my early sailing days but a launchpad for my coaching journey".

Trevor MillarTrevor Millar

Another important aspect for the club, and indeed EurILCA, was the ability to deliver a ‘Clean Regatta’.

As sailors and water sports enthusiasts, BYC holds a very strong marine environmental position and the club is proud to be signed up to the Green Blue Pledge, hold platinum-level Clean Regattas Certification and Final Straw Certification, all of which aligns with EurILCA’s values and has put BYC in an excellent position to meet EurILCA’s sustainability requirements. A group of hardy BYC sailors braved the chilly easterly to climb Cave Hill for some tree planting with #thewoodlandtrust and were rewarded with great views over the Lough. They planted over 550 saplings to help offset carbon emissions of the RIBs during the ILCA 6 European Championships.

Ballyholme Yacht Club members planting trees on Cave HillBallyholme Yacht Club members planting trees on Cave Hill

The application closing date is 31st May, and the entry closing date is 25th June.

Successful applicants will be chosen after the 31 May deadline. The list of applicants is here 

Published in Laser

Bangor RNLI on Belfast Lough received a donation of £2,500 from the members of Ballyholme Yacht Club this Christmas. The funds were raised during the festive period over a series of events hosted by the club.

The Christmas Prize Draw alone raised a massive £1,000, and the Christmas Quiz raised £120. On Boxing Day, 140 brave cold water swimmers participated in the annual Boxing Day Swim, and the club donated £700 of the entrance money to the charity. Generous donations in the RNLI collection buckets raised a further £680.

Tom Bell, Bangor RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer, expressed his gratitude for the continued support from Ballyholme Yacht Club. He stated, "We cannot thank them enough for their latest donation. The funds they have donated to date equate to kitting out an inshore lifeboat crew member in full personal protective equipment such as drysuit, helmet and lifejacket. The money they have and continue to donate will be used locally at Bangor RNLI Lifeboat Station, allowing us to continue to provide our 24/7 lifesaving service and achieve our overall goal of saving lives at sea."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The European ILCA 6 Youth Championships 2024 will be sailed at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough next season.

“This is a very significant championship for Europe’s youth sailors and hosting the event is a feather in the cap for both the club and for the region,” says Rob Milligan, Ballyholme Yacht Club Commodore.

The club is no stranger to hosting major dinghy sailing championships and next year Belfast Lough will see around 300 IlCA 6s (previously known as Laser Radials). The club has 122 years of racing experience behind it and now is seen as a family-friendly water sports centre that champions participation, enjoyment and excellence in water sports for all skill levels and ages. Today, in addition to sailing, the club provides training and access to a diverse range of water sports, including paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming, powerboating, and windsurfing.

"Racing will take place over eight days from 27th July to the 3rd of August 2024"

Young sailors aged 15-19 from around 42 European countries will make the trip to Bangor with their families and some 80 coaches. The event is a major coup for BYC and indeed for Northern Ireland. Principal Race Officer will be club member Robin Gray will lead a team which includes visiting International Race Officers from England, Tom Rusbridge and Paul Jackson. The event Organiser is ex-Commodore Aidan Pounder.

ILCA youth racing on Belfast LoughILCA youth racing on Belfast Lough

The ILCA 6 Youth European Championships is a major sailing event, where the competitors race single-handed in an Olympic class dinghy, formerly known as a Laser.

The event will take place over eight days from 27th July to the 3rd of August 2024.

Pounder says the Club is absolutely delighted to be awarded the hosting of the EurILCA 6 Youth European Championships and Open European Trophy. “This is a very significant championship for Europe’s youth sailors and hosting this event is fantastic news for UK and Irish sailing. The young sailors are representing their countries, and success at these championships is an important step not only in their own development, but future representation for their respective countries in World and Olympic class events. We are really looking forward to July and delivering a fantastic event which will bring the sailing community together and see the Borough thriving”.

The announcement of the Club’s successful bid to host the prestigious Championships was formalised recently when the EurILCA Chairperson, Jean-Luc Michon, flew in from France to meet the event organisers. After a tour of Bangor as part of a familiarisation visit and a review of the facilities, organisational plans and seeing the sights of the city, Michon shared his enthusiasm for the venue saying: “We’ve found the facilities to be very good, and with the highly experienced organising team in place, there is no doubt that we will have a great ILCA Youth European Championship at Ballyholme next summer”.

Rob Milligan, Club Commodore, explained, “BYC won the bid thanks to the club’s impressive track record of organising many ‘gold cup’ championships such as the F18 World Championships, the Topper Worlds and the World Police and Fire Games along with many other regional and national events. We also benefit from our fantastic location, which offers a top-level competition environment on the open waters of Belfast Lough,”

Another important aspect for the club and indeed EurILCA, was the ability to deliver a ‘Clean Regatta’. BYC holds a very strong marine environmental position, and the club is proud to be signed up to the Green Blue Pledge, hold platinum level Clean Regattas Certification and Final Straw Certification, all of which aligns with EurILCA’s values and has put BYC in an excellent position to meet EurILCA’s sustainability requirements.

The success in hosting such major events hinges on the generous contributions of the BYC volunteers, the support of other sailing clubs, the local community, and Ards and North Down Borough Council, who underpin the commitment necessary.
Milligan added, “The evidenced benefit to the community in delivering such events is a substantial economic boost to the borough and wider community as a whole. With competitors and their supporters often arriving weeks before the event, accommodation bookings, dining, and participation in local activities and tourism experiences are all set to soar. Having travelled to Northern Ireland for the competition, we are encouraging our visitors to stay and experience all that the region has to offer tourists. It will be a busy summer”.

Several Irish sailors competed successfully at the 2023 event in Poland, including many familiar with the waters of Belfast Lough. Among them were Bobby Driscoll, Dan Palmer, and Zoe Whitford, who are associated with NI clubs.

Published in Laser

Taking off from Ballyholme Yacht Club in Northern Ireland a day ahead of Storm Agnes' arrival, Mixed Catamaran Olympic Medalists, John Gimson and Anna Burnett sailing a foiling Nacra 17 have beaten the previous record (subject to ratification) for a cross-channel crossing between Ballyholme Yacht Club near Bangor on the North Down coast and Portpatrick on the Mull of Galloway in Scotland.

The new time recorded was 1hr 30 minutes 41 seconds, beating the 1995 record set by Ian Wilson and the late Johnny Mullan of Ballyholme Yacht Club in a Tornado catamaran in 1 hr 41 minutes 28 seconds.

Mayor Gilmore (right) with Anna Burnett and John Gimson at Ballyholme YCMayor Gilmore (right) with Anna Burnett and John Gimson at Ballyholme YC

The record attempt was made in association with Artemis Foiling Technology, a zero-carbon passenger ferry which is being developed in Belfast.

Ballyholme YC member Robin Gray, an RYA National Race Officer and Chair of the RYA National Race Management Committee acted as Judge of Fact for the attempt and is submitting the time to Guinness World Records.

The successful cross-channel record attempt was supported by the RNLI The successful cross-channel record attempt was supported by the RNLI 

Robin was on board the Artemis support vessel Pioneer and described mid-North Channel conditions as huge seas with 3m waves. The tide was ebbing north. The wind had been blowing from the South for three days beforehand, resulting in the big seas. Gimson and Burnett had to gybe downwind for a time and were at one stage within three-quarters of a mile off the Copeland Island just off Donaghadee.

Bangor RNLI also accompanied the pair.

The Mayor of Ards and North Down Council, Councillor Jennifer Gilmore, was at Ballyholme Yacht Club for the start of the record attempt, where she gave her best wishes to John and Anna.

The Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Steve Baker, showed his sailing skills on (August 22nd) on a visit to Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough.

On a previous visit to Bangor, the Minister heard first-hand about the exciting regeneration plans in development for the City, and as he enjoyed a tour of the waterfront area, it prompted the Minster’s desire to return, and with a particular interest in sailing, he visited the yacht club again.

Having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019, Ballyholme Yacht Club has much to be proud of in terms of the important role it plays in Bangor and the wider North Down community. As an RYA-recognised training centre, it not only provides a hub of opportunity for all ages and abilities to enjoy a variety of watersports and social activities safely, but it also helps boost tourism to the area and puts Bangor on the map through our many national and international events.

Ballyholme Yacht Club Commodore Rob Milligan (left) with the Minister of State for NI, Steve Baker, and Mayor Jennifer Gilmour Photo: Simon GrahamBallyholme Yacht Club Commodore Rob Milligan (left) with the Minister of State for NI, Steve Baker, and Mayor Jennifer Gilmour Photo: Simon Graham

The club is fortunate to benefit from both Ballyholme Bay's safe waters and Belfast Lough's open waters. During his visit, Minister Baker enjoyed sailing a hydrofoiling dinghy and a catamaran, as well as taking the opportunity to meet children taking part in an RYA Youth Sailing Scheme.

Minister Baker said: “Sailing with local people in Bangor’s Ballyholme Bay has been an amazing experience, allowing me to enjoy first-hand the city’s great watersports infrastructure. This area has a bright future, with exciting projects such as The Queen’s Parade Development which will benefit from £10m of UK Government Levelling Up funding, and the £40 million Belfast City Region Deal Funding from the NI Executive set to redevelop assets such as Bangor Marina.

Chatting with children taking part in a Ballyholme Yacht Club youth sailing course Photo: Simon GrahamChatting with children taking part in a Ballyholme Yacht Club youth sailing course Photo: Simon Graham

The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Jennifer Gilmour, said: “I am delighted that Minister Baker was so keen to visit Ballyholme Yacht Club and enjoy some of the water sports on offer. This is a very significant time for Bangor with the Queen’s Parade and Bangor Waterfront redevelopments offering the promise of £120M+ of investment into the area over the next ten years”.

The Yacht Club’s inclusion in the Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment is exciting for the club and the community. The Club has been identified as a premier location within Northern Ireland to develop sailing and water sports further.

Published in Belfast Lough
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Two Ballyholme Yacht Club Cadets have been praised for their quick action in helping a kayaker in trouble in Ballyholme Bay on Belfast Lough in Northern Ireland last Tuesday.

Hunter Reddy and Joseph Robinson could see on the Club webcam that the man was clinging to his kayak after he had capsized. His lifejacket kept him afloat, and he called 999 for the Coastguard, but the call was garbled due to his mobile not being in a waterproof case.

The boys helped guide Bangor Coastguard onto the scene and helped the man ashore. Following a medical check by the Coastguard Rescue team and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service paramedics, he was given the all clear. Bangor RNLI was also tasked but stood down as the boys swiftly saved the man.

Commodore Rob Milligan praised the boy’s quick thinking, “Well done, Hunter and Joseph-great job!”.

The Ballyholme Yacht Club webcam is here

Published in Belfast Lough
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It was worth waiting for. Belfast Lough having suffered the same fate as the first day of the Dun Laoghaire Regatta, the Irish Topper Nationals got underway a day late at Ballyholme on the north Down coast last Saturday afternoon after a postponement. By lunchtime, the wind had quietened to about 20 knots, which came from the Southeast, meant the sea was relatively friendly. So, Race Officer Sheela Lewis from County Antrim Yacht Club got racing underway for the eighty Toppers in separate starts for the 20 4.2s and the 60 5.3s’

By the end of Sunday’s racing, they had seven races under their belts, but the dominant sailors certainly had emerged after Saturday’s four races. In the 4.2s with four firsts was Andrew O’Neill from Royal Cork and Royal St George, and five points behind was Paidi A’Coistealbha from Malahide. Tom Driscoll from the host club and Royal North at Cultra had three firsts and a discarded 6th, leaving him 2 points ahead of Craig O’Neill Jnr (RCYC/RSt GYC), elder brother of 4.2 sailor Andrew.

Sunday brought reduced fleets to the start line. After the last three races, Andrew O’Neill and A’Coistealbha kept their first and second places, but Adam Green from Lough Erne YC in the western County Fermanagh, who had tied overnight with Rian O’Neill from Royal Cork jumped into third overall. Overall winner Andrew O’Neill heads to Spain to compete in the 2023 Optimist Worlds and will return to his home club to compete in the Topper Worlds at the end of this month.

Tom Driscoll 49099 pulling ahead of Craig O'Neill 48119 and Luke Simpson Photo: Rob ArmstrongTom Driscoll 49099 pulling ahead of Craig O'Neill 48119 and Luke Simpson Photo: Rob Armstrong

After the Sunday races, Tom Driscoll held onto first overall, but the local Cormac Byrne, who also belongs to Strangford SC, counted two seconds and a first to take the runner-up slot. Luke Simpson of CAYC kept the third slot but Craig O’Neill dropped from second to fourth.

Topper 4.2s racing at close quarters Photo: Rob ArmstrongTopper 4.2s racing at close quarters Photo: Rob Armstrong

Among the special prizewinners, Isabelle Passberger from Waterford Harbour took 1st 5.3 Youth Female and the local Cormac Byrne the top 5.3 Male. Emily McAfee from the host club claimed 5.3 Junior Female and 1st Female and Tom Driscoll 5.3 Junior Male. In the 4.2s, Andrew O’Neill took home to Cork the Ist overall prize.

Commodore Rob Milligan was delighted to see so many visitors to the club; “The club was absolutely buzzing over the weekend, and our young sailors experienced some challenging but rewarding conditions. Without members giving up their time to organise and help out ashore or on the water, these events won’t happen. Well done to all involved and thank you once again.”

Many of the Toppers who sailed in this event will be on the road again soon for the Topper World Championships at Royal Cork YC starting on 24th July.

Results below

Published in Topper

Ballyholme Yacht Club’s online Baycam had a very prominent red line on Friday (7 July) with the southerly offshore wind forecast to reach 37 knots in the gusts, putting paid to the first day of the 2023 Topper Nationals.

In a strong southerly, the conditions inside Ballyholme Bay on the north Co Down coast in Northern Ireland looked friendly enough — except for the cat’s paws marking the strong gusts.

There are about 60 sailors in the Topper 5.3 and 20 more in the 4.3 keen to race and they have been asked to meet Saturday morning (8 July) at 11am for an updated briefing. It is expected the first warning gun will be at 12.55pm.

Published in Topper

With two more day’s racing to go in the Junior Icebreaker Ballyholme Yacht Club in Belfast Lough, Emily McAfee looks invincible in the Topper 5.3 fleet, which inclement weather has considerably reduced from the original 22. In the Feva division, only three points separate Emily and Annabelle Ridout and the other Ridout family members, Matt and Peter. The only Oppi contestant, Oliver Stevens, has no opposition. And the Topper 4.2, in the end, was reduced to just one.

The minimum requirement is Stage Three sailing ability (usually age 9/10 and the maximum age is 18, including ILCA and 29ers.

On Easter weekend, the turnout was lower than normal, with 12 boats heading out to the race area, but before the first race was completed several had to return to shore due to the strong wind gusts. Two classes were amalgamated into one start to ensure the quick running of races in the still-cold conditions.

RS Fevas and Topper dinghies on the slipway and set for the Junior Icebreaker Series at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast LoughRS Fevas and Topper dinghies on the slipway and set for the Junior Icebreaker Series at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough

The course was a short windward leeward with a Gate followed by a downwind finish. The first start was hotly contested with all boats on the line ready for the off but with such a strong breeze, staying close to the line stationary before the start was difficult and many competitors were over the line at the gun. This resulted in the first general recall of 2023 and a quick turnaround by the excellent Race Committee of Mike Cairns and Katelyn MacAfee enabled the second start to follow soon after, with all competitors being more cautious in their approach to the line.

Staying upright was difficult sailing towards the Ballyholme shore, with the gusts funnelling down the avenues towards the Promenade at more than 20 knots. That proved testing for all competitors, and two retired.

Places were lost and gained during the beat, with the right-hand side of the course paying off in the first round and the left-hand proving better in the second. The Fevas’ downwind leg was exciting, with Annabelle and Emily Ridout surfing with the spinnaker up, fully hiked out through the finish and off for a five-minute jolly towards Scotland, enjoying the speed and displaying exceptional boat handling and teamwork.

After two laps, in the Topper class, Cormac Byrne came first, followed by Emily MacAfee and Katie Brow.

Race 2 saw was a three-lap race, with boats favouring the right-hand side of the beat, Emily McAfee and Cormac Byrne traded first and second places throughout the race, with Emily coming through in first, closely followed by Cormac. Izzy Nixon suffered a capsize on the last leg and came in fourth position after Katie Brow, who made it around the course closely after Cormac.

The final race had only six boats competing over the Fevas and Toppers, with the now stronger breeze forcing the young sailors to work hard to keep the boats flat and performing upwind. In the Topper 5.3 final upwind leg, Cormac had a lead of five boat lengths which was given away after a death roll in a strong gust. He showed great skill and strength, quickly righting his boat and sailing again but he was just beaten by Emily MacAfee. In the Topper 4.2, Alex Eadie worked very hard to finish the last lap and recover from a capsize to cross and finish the race

Saturday’s race conditions highlighted the skills and capabilities of the young cadets, some of whom are only 11, to manage their boats in such tough conditions. Dave Nelson from the Training Committee appreciated the help running the series; “many thanks to Rescue and Shore crews who helped the sailors get out onto and off the water safely, particularly on such a challenging day. Good luck to the seven Cadets from BYC travelling to Howth Yacht Club in the week ahead for the Youth Championships”.

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About the Loughs Agency

The Loughs Agency is a governmental body established under the 1998 Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of Ireland. The Agency's goal is to provide sustainable social, economic, and environmental benefits by effectively conserving, managing, promoting, and developing the fisheries and marine resources of the Foyle and Carlingford areas.

The Agency's governing legislation confers several specific functions, including the promotion of development of Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough for commercial and recreational purposes in respect of marine, fishery, and aquaculture matters. Moreover, the Agency is responsible for managing, conserving, protecting, improving, and developing the inland fisheries of the Foyle and Carlingford areas. Additionally, the Agency has the task of developing and licensing aquaculture, as well as the development of marine tourism.

The Loughs Agency reports to the North South Ministerial Council and its government Sponsor Departments, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland, and the Department of the Environment, Climate, and Communications (DECC) in Ireland. The Departments fund the Agency on an equal basis.

The Loughs Agency's focus on sustainable development is expected to have a positive impact on the economy, environment, and local communities in the Foyle and Carlingford areas. The Agency's efforts to conserve and enhance the region's marine resources, including fisheries and aquaculture, are expected to benefit local communities, promote tourism, and contribute to economic growth.

In conclusion, the Loughs Agency plays a vital role in promoting the sustainable social, economic, and environmental development of the Foyle and Carlingford areas. Its work on marine conservation and development is crucial in ensuring the long-term viability of the region's natural resources and in promoting sustainable economic growth.