Displaying items by tag: Belfast Lough
Artemis Technologies, a spin-off from America’s Cup team Artemis Racing, is to establish a new facility in Belfast Harbour, initially creating 35 jobs, in a bid to return commercial shipbuilding to the city.
The company led by double Olympic gold medalist, Iain Percy OBE, will use its expertise garnished at the highest echelons of world yacht racing to develop new green maritime technologies and build an ‘Autonomous Sailing Vessel’ (ASV).
The ASV will be a zero-emissions 45-metre catamaran, that will require no fossil fuels, offer unlimited range, and has the potential to travel at 50 knots, with a cruising speed of 30 knots in any condition.
Artemis Technologies, Chief Executive, Iain Percy OBE, a veteran of four America’s Cup challenges, most recently as Team Manager and Tactician of Artemis Racing says the company has a clear vision: “We aim to lead in the decarbonisation of the maritime industry by building on our America’s Cup heritage and expertise in hydrofoils, wing sails and control systems to develop and manufacture green-powered commercial vessels, helping to ensure a sustainable maritime future.
“The ASV has a variety of applications including City to City passenger transportation and will be the first in a series of commercial maritime products developed by Artemis Technologies in Belfast using the wind and innovative energy recovery systems.
“Through collaboration, research and innovation we plan to utilise Belfast’s rich maritime history and the region’s world-class expertise in aerospace and composite engineering to create the UK’s most advanced maritime manufacturing facility.
“The Artemis Technologies’ team already consists of experts from the fields of motor sport, aerospace, yacht design, simulation, electronics and aerodynamics. We plan to share our expertise with Northern Ireland and work in collaboration with stakeholders to grow this sector by delivering innovative yet sustainable maritime products.
At today’s launch in the historic offices of Belfast Harbour, with Artemis Racing’s AC45f America’s Cup yacht moored in the channel outside, Iain Percy set the context and outlined the plans for Artemis Technologies. He said:
“Under a new international agreement, issued by the International Maritime Organisation, the global maritime sector has committed to cutting emissions by at least half by 2050.
“We believe, given our expertise and the strength of the skills base here in Northern Ireland, that we can position the region at the forefront of helping deliver these targets, by developing new green innovations to assist in the decarbonisation of maritime.
Already the company has received the backing and collaborative support from stakeholders including Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour, Stena Line, Bombardier, Harland and Wolff, Queen’s University, Ulster University, Belfast Met, NIACE, Creative Composites and Catalyst Inc; and is the lead applicant on a UK Research and Innovation, Strength in Places funding call.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, said: “I am delighted to attend the launch of Artemis Technologies in Belfast Harbour and support their ambition to research and develop a zero-emissions shipbuilding facility.
"It’s fantastic news that the company has chosen Belfast to build a 45 metre passenger vessel using a design based on the America's Cup catamaran yacht. To begin there will be 35 high-skilled jobs created but a clear ambition to expand rapidly.
"Building on Belfast’s rich history of shipbuilding and combined with our current world-class expertise in technology and engineering, Artemis will collaborate with local universities and the aerospace sector to help kick-start a modern, shipbuilding resurgence in the city.
"This is brilliant news for Belfast and another example of a world-class company choosing Northern Ireland as the best place to invest, innovate and grow a world-class workforce."
Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive of Belfast Harbour, said: “Belfast Harbour is delighted to support such a hi-tech project which complements our plans to further develop Belfast Harbour as an innovation hub.
“Artemis represents another diverse addition to the 700-plus firms already within the Harbour Estate. This growing community offers high-calibre employment and opportunities which are critical for the economic wellbeing of both Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole.”
Dave Thompson, General Manager of Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering said: “The locating of Artemis’ centre in Northern Ireland is a great endorsement of the technological capability of the region. Artemis is developing products that have the potential to revolutionise sustainable maritime transportation.
“The technologies required to support these developments correspond well with the capabilities and aspirations of our local supply chain. The ASV, and its precursor, will draw on aspects of aerospace, automotive, marine and electrical engineering, in addition to AI, control systems and data security.
“There are a number of innovative advanced engineering firms in Northern Ireland already operating in these areas and they welcome the unique opportunity to work with Artemis.
“Local knowledge providers such as NIACE, QUB and UU are relishing the opportunity to collaborate with the company’s technical team on numerous advanced development activities.”
Donal Lyons, Chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee said: “I’d like to welcome Artemis Technologies to Belfast - its vision for green innovative growth will, I am certain, capture the imagination of all our citizens. I’m delighted to see further investment that brings jobs creation and a boost to the local economy.
“Artemis is one of the success stories from the council’s City for Investment Service which provides a ‘soft landing’ for businesses to tap into council networks and get marketing, employability and skills support.
“Through the Belfast Agenda and our proposal for a City Region Deal, Belfast City Council is committed to accelerating innovation and research whilst enhancing the skills and employability of its people. Not only will Artemis Technologies help deliver these objectives, but its presence will inspire young people that such world-leading technology is being developed on their doorstep and they can play a part.”
#RNLI - Last Wednesday evening (8 August), two men enjoying an evening’s fishing on their speedboat near Groomsport in Co Down hit rocks and lost their propeller.
Thanks to their skill, it wasn’t long until they were able to hand the rescued vessel over to the Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team and make their way back to Bangor to enjoy what remained of their evening.
More recently, volunteer crew from Bangor launched to a report of a person in the water on the Carrickfergus side of Belfast Lough yesterday, Monday 13 August.
On arrival, however, the crew determined that it was just a cluster of helium-filled balloons, and returned to base.
Over 500 sailors and 100 keelboats and dinghies relished in the champagne sailing conditions served up in Belfast Lough by joint host yacht clubs Royal Ulster and Ballyholme in the first Bangor Town Regatta.
The new event is already booked again in the calendar for late June/early July 2020 and the success of this weekend's racing can only grow the numbers of competitors for a format that is already working well in the Scottish Series and Dun Laoghaire Regatta.
The pick of the racing could be said to have been in Class 2's IRC fleet comprising mainly of the RC35 class but there was close racing across the board and many of the classes weren't finalised until the very last race.
Class 1 saw just four entries from Scotland and Hong Kong against the pride of Strangford Lough. Jamie McWilliam's mainly ex pat crew in Signal 8 were hard worked with relatively short windward leeward courses to contend with and ended up second to Jonathan Anderson's Elgran Senior from Clyde Cruising Club.
The RC35 Class saw Pat Kelly's J109 Storm surge forwards from Day 1 when they had two bullets. Apart from an OCS in Race 4 alongside 4 other boats, Storm continued to set the pace until the final morning when an unusual poor last two races saw Debbie Aitken's First 36.7 Animal from RNCYC squeeze past by one point to win the overall trophy followed by Storm and then John Stamp's Corby 33 Jacob VII in third. The mix of makes of boat shows the success of this class with tight arcing throughout the weekend.
Class 3 was more of a local (almost Larne) family affair with Rory Fekkes' FN'GR8 sailing out of Carrickfergus SC mixing it up with Peter Doig and his crew in their J92 from East Antrim YC. Other Belfast Lough competitor's Steve Atkinson's Bad and John Minnis' Final Call kept them honest.
The Quarter Tonners in Class 4 decided to race as IRC handicaps for Bangor Town Regatta causing much consternation before the event when some boats found that they suddenly gave others much more time than they expected. One benefit was Garth and Miles Lindsay's Jonathan Star who won the class by 5 points. Alan Morrison and John Simms Starflash showed great speed when the wind freshened especially on Day 1 whilst David Milne's Manzanita came third enjoying the flatter waters of Day 2 and 3.
Class 5 - NHC Unrestricted - saw a large mix of boats from Pure 6, a custom sportsboat, to a Sun Odyssey 42. Four Sigmas made up much of the racing led by Miss Behavin who won the British/ Class Championship at the same venue 2 years ago. Recent Irish champion Squawk tried to make it a battle winning the first two races on a breezy Day 1 which also saw Miss Behavin's genoa tack eye shear off at the end of the first race and a DNC in Race 2. Such is the camaraderie amongst the Sigma family that Squawk's owner Paul Prentice took the Miss Behavin part to a friendly stainless steel welder 30 miles away to get the part fixed in time for Day 2. The intricacies of the NHC handicap system saw Micheal and Chris Johnston's Impulse beat Squawk for second place whilst Pure 6 enjoyed the lighter flatter conditions of the final day to win both races and take third place on countback.
NHC Restricted in Class 8 saw the smallest keelboat Shara from Donaghadee SC against some of the largest in Jo and Doug Rennie's Oceanis 43 and Roger and Suzie Clegg's Sigma 38 Ocean Tramp. The latter lead for most of the series and if they had been 1 second faster on Race 8, could have been the overall winner. Instead, they shared 5.5 points on the penultimate race with Gerry and John Bell and Bryan Lawther's MerryJack, allowing the smaller Sigma 33 of Terry Fair to also come equal with them, this time on overall points but take the overall win on countback.
The Waverley class also competed on Saturday and Sunday around the RUYC buoys with 6 of the historic class in action. Martin and Victoria Dews won in Merrilies from Michael Stephens in Waverley and Jimmy McKee in Nigel.
Full results here
Irish RS400 and RS200 National Championships
Bangor Town Regatta also hosted the Irish RS400 and RS200 National Championships with 18 RS 200's and 26 RS400's hosted at Ballyholme over Friday to Sunday. The RS200 class was won by Julian Bradley and Helen Cafferata from Royal Cork's Adam Power and Jack Young. Julian and Helen now sail out of Wembley SC and although Julian is from Northern Ireland, they didn't qualify for the Irish Championships due to their RS membership giving the win to the Cork duo. County Antrim's Jocelyn Hill came third with new crew Jenny Lewis.
In the RS400 class, there was some very close racing with Paul McMahon from Howth leading until the last race with Sue Monson as crew. Sue is a regular Ballyholme visitor and RYANI and ISA coach as well as sister of navigator Rosco Monson who just completed the Volvo Round the World Race aboard Team AkzoNobel. Unfortunately, it didn't help them navigate the final race when a 5th place saw them equal on points with regular RS400 winners Alex Barry and Richard Leonard who then claimed the Irish National title again on countback. Carrickfergus's Chris Penney and Jessica Rutherford came third. The RS400 class now has a large number of very competitive sailors with Olympians, Figaro sailors and Round Britain record holders amongst it and "pleasantly" surprised to see how strong the Irish fleet has become over the last few years with more regular competition.
Of course, the aim of Bangor Town Regatta has also to see the festival of keelboat and dinghy racing return to Bangor with great social evenings every night at both clubs and lots of friendships renewed with the influx from Scotland, Ireland and Hong Kong. Jo Rennie also entertained a party of Italians aboard "Three Sheets" who come from Andora YC which "twinned" with Ballyholme Yacht Club in recent years. The final evening saw the bars run out of rum, ice and glasses - always a great sign of success.
The prize giving was hosted this afternoon quickly after racing and thanks given to the hard work of Event Chair Jim Coffey and his race management teams from both clubs. Lots of organisation has gone into the inaugural event and lessons learnt for the next version - all competitors were asked for their views into how to grow it and encourage their fellow sailors along.
Also thanked was Principal Race Officer Robin Gray home fresh from his involvement in the Volvo Ocean Race, and Race Officers Angela Gilmore from Killyleagh YC and Tom Rusbridge who came all the way from Birmingham to run the RS200 and RS400 course.
Photos were taken with sponsor Damian Fusco of Fusco Cars and Bangor Fuels. Photos courtesy of Andrew Gallagher.
Belfast Lough's offering as a maritime heritage destination has been given a major boost today as two iconic attractions – the Great Light and Titanic Walkway – officially opened to the public in Titanic Quarter.
The opening event was also selected to launch The European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 in Northern Ireland.
The Great Light gave Mew Island Lighthouse on the Copeland Islands its traditional revolving light and guided mariners to and from Belfast Lough until 2014. It is the world’s first and largest hyper-radial Fresnel lighthouse lens, installed in Tory Island Lighthouse in 1887 then reconfigured and moved to Mew Island in 1928.
The optic was removed from Mew Island in 2014 as the lighthouse was modernised and converted to solar power.
The Great Light project from Titanic Foundation, the charity committed to preserving Belfast’s maritime and industrial heritage, in partnership with the Commissioners of Irish Lights, will see the optic given a new role bringing to life the story of lighthouses, their technological developments, their light-keepers and their role in the maritime and industrial history of Belfast and beyond.
From Friday, 9 March, visitors will be able to walk the new 500 metre Titanic Walkway on Victoria Wharf, which connects the Titanic Slipways to HMS Caroline and the Thompson Dock, learning about the maritime and industrial heritage of the area on their way to the Great Light. This iconic waterfront walkway has been delivered by Titanic Quarter Limited.
The projects have been funded by Tourism NI, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council, Ulster Garden Villages and the Commissioners of Irish Lights.
Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation, said: “At around 130 years old, weighing 10 tonnes and standing seven meters tall, the Great Light is a unique heritage object of national and international importance with links to our maritime and industrial past. We are delighted to have played a role in saving this fantastic artefact and preserving it in Titanic Quarter for everyone to enjoy.”
James Eyre, Commercial Director of Titanic Quarter, said: “We are delighted to see the completion of the Titanic Walkway and the Great Light. They both add new and exciting aspects to our world class public realm to be enjoyed by those that live, work and visit Titanic Quarter. The Titanic Walkway now provides a seamless connection between our maritime heritage assets from the heart of the city centre to HMS Caroline and the Thompson Dock. We are very grateful for the support and dedication from all of our partners, delivering these magnificent projects.”
Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Nuala McAllister, said: “We’re delighted that support from our Local Investment Fund is allowing people to enjoy the Great Light. The theme for my year of office is ‘Global Belfast’ and important projects like this one are illuminating the very special visitor experience we offer to people, the world over. We made a commitment in The Belfast Agenda to protecting and enhancing our environment and built heritage, and as well as helping to deliver on that objective, this project will also enhance our ever growing visitor offer.”
Anna Carragher, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund Northern Ireland, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, the Great Light has been conserved and given new meaning as the beacon which connects the wealth of maritime and industrial heritage attractions on offer in Titanic Quarter. National Lottery funding has been crucial in transforming this area - HMS Caroline, the Nomadic and Titanic Hotel Belfast amongst those to have benefited –which now attracts both local and international visitors to learn about the former shipyard, its workers and the wider industrial development of the city.
“Today also marks the launch of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Northern Ireland. The slogan for the year is Our Heritage: Where the past meets the future, and nowhere is this more fitting than here in Titanic Quarter. We are working with the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division, Tourism Northern Ireland, the Arts Council and the British Council to help leverage the potential of our cultural heritage in new and interesting ways.”
The Chairman of Ulster Garden Villages, Dr Tony Hopkins CBE said: “We were pleased to be able to fund this project and to help to save this important piece of maritime history. Lighthouses are among the most visible and interesting icons of our coastline. The “Great Light” located at Titanic Quarter will give citizens and tourists the opportunity to see the workings of a lighthouse up close and to learn about their history and importance as a navigational aid and a warning to shipping.”
Yvonne Shields, Chief Executive of the Commissioners of Irish Lights, the body which delivers an essential navigation service around the island of Ireland said: “Irish Lights has been serving the mariner around the island of Ireland, north and south, for over 200 years. Throughout the generations our engineers and lighthouse keepers have been at the forefront of continuous change and technological innovation. The Great Light is a fantastic example of the ingenuity and talent of past and current members of our staff.
“We are delighted to have had this opportunity to team up with designers, architects, historians and tourism interests to develop this amazing landmark project which brings the heritage and story of lighthouses right into the heart of Belfast, a community that has contributed so much to our maritime economy past and present. We are also delighted that today the Great Light not only becomes a stand-out attraction in its own right but also becomes part of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland network, promoting lighthouse tourism, north and south.”
Early in July 2018, the well-loved coastal town Bangor on Belfast Lough will be the backdrop to the largest sailing event to be held in Northern Ireland for many years – the Bangor Town Regatta.
More than a dozen classes of yachts and dinghies, and hundreds of sailors, will compete on four courses during the four days of the regatta, with both the RS200 & RS400 classes having already confirmed that they will be using the event to hold their Irish National Championships. With so much activity on the water, this will be a wonderful event for participants and spectators alike, and, with a full programme of shore-side activities, this will be a real family attraction.
Entry is now open at http://ballyholme.com/events/bangor-town-regatta-2018/ where the Notice of race is also available. We already have a few heavy hitters enrolled in Class 1 including Jamie McWilliam's Ker 40 Signal 8 (Hong Kong YC) and Jay Colville's Forty Licks (East Down YC). First of the smaller classes to enter was Cillian Mackin's Quarter Tonner Don Giovanni from Howth, keen to come and play with the revived Belfast Lough Quarter Ton Class.
A strong Scottish RC35 presence is promised by Bangor ex-pat Dane Ralston. The Sigma 33 Class enjoyed some great racing in Belfast Lough for their 2016 Class Championships and it is hoped that many of the Dublin Sigmas will join the Scottish contingent this summer. And the oldest fleet in the Lough – the Waverley Class which has blossomed again in recent years with 12 on the water last summer – hope to attract other classic fleets such as the Fairies, Glens, Rivers and even some of the Howth 17's that made the journey up for RUYC's 150th celebrations.
Event Chairman, Jim Coffey of RUYC, said: In Ballyholme Bay and Belfast Lough we have a wonderful sailing area that is internationally renowned, and in recent years our clubs have hosted a number of international events. Even so, this will be the largest sailing event ever to be hosted in Bangor'.
Class 1 – IRC with TCC 1.041 and above
Class 2 – IRC with TCC from 1.015 to 1.040 (RC35 Class)
Class 3 – IRC with TCC 1.014 or less
Class 4 – Quarter Ton Class – see NOR Attachment 1 for eligibility
Class 5 – NHC with Base Number 0.901 or above
Class 6 – NHC with Base Number 0.900 or below
Class 7 – Sigma 33 OOD
Class 8 – Restricted Sail Class NHC
RS400 & RS200 Irish National Championships:
The Mackey Opticians sponsored Belfast Lough Autumn Series came to a sad finale yesterday with Storm Brian hanging around long enough to put paid to the morning's racing.
Race Officer Ruan O'Tiarnaigh had hoped to run two races as the series had only completed three out of six Sunday mornings due to the previous Storm Ophelia and a cou-ple of windless days before that. However a constant 30 knots and gusts into the late 30's made the RO's mind up that it was better to end the season with all of the boats in one piece.
There has been some close racing in the 3 races achieved. The IRC handicap has worked well for the wide range of sizes in their class with the 44 foot Hanse Grey Goose, First 40 Giggle, 38 foot Indigo and First 31.7 competing against the much small-er Beneteau 26 Stratus Sailing campaigned by Gavin Watson and his compatriots who normally compete on Jay Colville's Forty Licks. Despite managing to almost deglove the finger of one crew member on the first race, followed by a young crew member having to be taken off the boat during the second race after getting his hand stuck in a block, Stratus Sailing won the class by 3 points from Dickie and Pauline Donnan's Indigo
The Belfast Lough Quarter Ton class had a good turnout for the series and the differing breezes over the 3 races upset the normal standings with the older ladies Chatterbox owned by Davy Quinn winning the class and Mumbo Jumbo - a 1976 Contessa 25 owned by the Moran/Storey/Westhurst partnership coming in second with more con-sistent results than the rest.
The NHC Whitesail fleet may have been won by Gerry Bell and Bryan Lawther's Merry Jack if they had read the Sailing Instructions for the first race. After completing their two laps, they opted to try and sail a 3rd rather than sailing through the downwind finish line - winning Mug of the Day instead of the first race. Instead John Moorehead and his team on Margarita took the overall class win from David McMullan's Steel Pulse.
The Sigma class saw some close racing as typified by the Sigma fleet this summer in Scotland and Dún Laoghaire. Paul and Emma Prentice's Irish Sigma Champions on Squawk managed to get a jump on the others in the breezier first two races to win over-all although both Starshine Challenger and Impulse showed some good pace at times - in particular in the lighter wind 3rd race with Impulse's shiny and crackling new genoa - to promise more great one design contests when the boats relaunch for next season.
Rear Commodore Ruan O'Tiarnaigh thanked the various committee boat owners, race management teams and mark layers from Ballyholme and Royal Ulster Yacht Clubs for their help over the seven weekends. Mark Mackey and Mackey Opticians were also thanked for sponsoring the event, as well as all of the competitors for continuing to support what is normally some of the best racing of the year in Belfast Lough sadly limited by this years hopefully freak weather.
Fourteen boats comprising over forty sailors of varying ages gathered in Bangor Marina, County Down and were welcomed there by David Meeke and Betty Armstrong from the Royal Ulster YC, who acted as local organisers and publicists of events for the cruise. The marina manager, Kevin Baird, provided a barbecue for the participating sailors and supplied wine and beer for the evening. The following day the sailors visited the Walled Gardens in Bangor and afterwards met the Ards and North Down Mayor, Councillor Robert Adair, who welcomed us to Bangor and explained his duties as Mayor and the functioning of the town council. Afterwards we were treated to lunch and were given a guided tour of the town hall. The sailors were invited to the Royal Ulster Yacht Club for a splendid buffet that evening. The Vice Commodore Nigel Hamilton and Honorary Treasurer Phil Davis welcomed us to the magnificent clubhouse and the excellent dinner was enjoyed by all. One of our young sailors, Caoimhe McCormick, addressed the group to explain her fundraising for the Rapunzel Organisation. This group supports cancer patients with hair loss due to their treatment. Caoimhe explained that she would have her long hair cut short and that her tresses would be used to make a hair replacement wig for a victim of cancer. She raised a large sum of money in donations from our sailors.
The fleet proceeded the next morning to the Belfast Harbour Marina located in the Abercorn Basin. On the afternoon of our arrival we had a guided tour of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Offices. The next day many sailors visited the local attractions in the Titanic quarter. HMS Caroline is the only surviving vessel from the Battle of Jutland and this new attraction is now open to the public – it is an amazing ship and well worth the effort. Titanic Belfast also proved popular and the Nomadic tender vessel has been refurbished which adds to the visitor experience. In the afternoon there was a civic reception with the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister. She welcomed us to Belfast City Hall and the commodore of the CAI, Clifford Brown, presented her with a CAI burgee. In his address to the Lord Mayor he stressed the importance of maintaining open sailing waters between the North and South of Ireland so that sailors can enjoy the many amenities in Irish coastal waters. The sailors then enjoyed a guided tour of the magnificent Belfast City Hall.
After two days in Belfast, the fleet proceeded to Carrickfergus Marina. We were welcomed there by the Harbourmaster, Nigel Thompson, and the Commodore of Carrickfergus Sailing Club, Trevor McCaig, and the members of the sailing club. An evening of traditional music was enjoyed in the clubhouse and some of our sailors participated in the entertainment. The next morning was the deciding match in the Lions rugby Tour of New Zealand. A large group of sailors watched the match in Ownies Bar and enjoyed an Ulster fry for breakfast. That evening the proprietor of the bar, Jack, hosted a barbecue for the group in the beer garden. A musician was in attendance to entertain us as we ate and a sing- song developed as the evening progressed. Many talented sailors regaled the group with renditions of popular and less known songs.
The next morning the fleet of boats departed Carrickfergus with some continuing to cruise further north, some going to Scotland and the Isle of Man and some returning home. The cruise was a great success and everyone was made very welcome in the places we visited. New friendships were established and the CAI is very indebted to David and Betty who did so much to facilitate the visit. Belfast Lough is a very beautiful place with many amenities to be enjoyed and the facilities in the marinas are excellent. Sailors will be sure of a friendly welcome and the CAI will definitely return in the future.
A small group of Fireballs, combined with a slightly larger group of 420s enjoyed a light weather start to the regatta season under the burgee of Ballyholme Yacht Club, on Belfast Lough’s southern shore for the Ulster Championships this past weekend. Ballyholme has always been a popular destination for the Fireballs with a combination of an excellent Race Officer in Robin Gray and traditional northern hospitality the mainstays of that attraction. While our smaller numbers changed the requirement for on-site hospitality, Robin Gray was as excellent as ever, getting six races in in challenging circumstances, particularly on the Saturday. Sunday was easier in terms of the wind direction but for the competitors, the challenge of going the right way and avoiding the wind lulls on the course was just as demanding.
Noel Butler and Stephen Oram (National Yacht Club, 15061) dominated the winners’ enclosure by taking five race wins. In the sixth race they swapped roles on the boat, with Stephen taking over as helm. That led to an opening of the door to another winner, Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer (Skerries Sailing Club, 14938) which was enough to secure second overall ahead of Michael Ennis & Marie Barry (National Yacht Club, 14854). However, while Butler & Oram won all the races, they didn’t have things completely their own way even in those races. In the first race of the Saturday, Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley (Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, 14713) led around the first weather mark and Michael & Marie pushed them all the way in the fifth race before a tight cover had to be applied on the last leg of the course from Mark 4 of the trapezoid to the finish to make sure Michael & Marie didn’t sneak out from underneath them. Niall & Neil also pushed the eventual winners and the “pink ladies”, Louise McKenna and Hermine O’Keeffe (Royal St George Yacht Club, 14691) while not quite pushing the overall winners were also close enough to benefit from any mistakes the leaders made. Saturday started overcast and cool but cleared and warmed as the day progressed, to the extent that we came ashore after three races to blue skies and glorious sunshine. Saturday’s wind was better than Sunday with some trapezing being possible. The consequence was that the racing was reasonably tightly bunched. Dinner was eaten al fresco at a nearby by pub/restaurant. Our weather was made all the more intriguing by hearing that DBSC’s racing in Dun Laoghaire had been cancelled due to strong wind.
On Sunday we woke to clear blue skies and a much more fickle breeze but Race Officer Robin Gray made an early declaration of his intent by not appearing at the club but rather, going afloat on the committee boat directly from Bangor marina. While some of the other light crews may have had some trapezing on Sunday, this correspondent only hooked up very rarely during the day’s proceedings. As the biggest combination on the water, Miller & Bradley were off the pace in the lighter first two races and it was only in the last race when there was a bit more wind that they were able to stay with their opposition. Trapezoid courses were the order of the weekend in order to accommodate the two fleets and the preference of the 420s for this course configuration.
Fireball Ulsters – Ballyholme Yacht Club
Noel Butler & Stephen Oram
Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer
Michael Ennis & Marie Barry
Three weeks hence from this morning, on Saturday May 19th, an unlikely convoy of vehicles with a very special collection of unique vintage boats and people will emerge in Cherbourg from Irish Ferries’ ship just in from Rosslare writes W M Nixon. Meanwhile, well to the west in northern Brittany, a similarly rare group with antique boats of a different type will have disembarked in Roscoff from the Brittany Ferries vessel from Cork. By that night, if all goes according to plan, both groups – people and boats alike - will be united a long way away, in the little port of Arradon on the shores of the Morbihan, the island-studded inland sea at the heart of its own Department, the most southerly part of Brittany.
The Irish classic boats and those who sail them will have arrived to immerse themselves in the fleet of more than 1,300 other unusual craft in a very French celebration of sailing and pride in individualistic boat ownership. It’s a wonderfully complex biennial celebration which uses the magic waters of the Morbihan, where sea and land completely intertwine in the midst of the sweetest countryside with enchanting village ports, to provide a unique playground for boats of all types and sizes.
At the time of writing, they’re expected to range in size from the extraordinary Russian re-creation of Peter the Great’s huge warship of 1703, the Shtandart, right down to a selection of the sometimes decidedly unusual yet effective little craft which emanate from the creative minds to be found in Francois Vivier’s design office. In between, we’ve everything from the America’s Cup 12 Metre France through a comprehensive selection of traditional sailing fishing boats and classic yacht from several maritime nations, and on through a goodly fleet of other traditional craft with a strong representation of the Bantry Boats, until at the lower end of the size scale, we find some little boats which are very odd indeed, owner-designed craft which can best be categorized somewhere on the scale which ranges from Rather Quirky to Utterly Bonkers.
In the midst of the huge fleet, there’ll be twelve Water Wags and six Howth 17s from Ireland. Small and all as they are by comparison with some of the enormous traditional fishing craft and Tall Ships taking part, they will be accorded honoured status partly on account of age. The Water Wags of 1887 origin, with the present class a re-worked larger design from 1900, introduced the One-Design concept. And as the Howth 17s are of 1898 origin, they are accorded the special honour of being the world’s oldest one design keelboat class still sailing as originally designed.
Further to all that, both classes bring international status through coming from Ireland, and few have come further, even if the little Irish boats are sensibly using the ferries. But we will also see Irish Sea representation with boats which have sailed there, with the beautifully restored classic Laurent Giles-designed Carbineer 46 Sylvana voyaging from Northern Ireland, while the irrepressible Joe Pennington from the Isle of Man is entered with his restored 1895-built 36ft Manx longliner Master Frank, which might find it interesting to have a spot of competition with the comparable French-based Essex smack Unity of Lynn.
However, for the little Irish boats, it’s a formidable logistical challenge. The Water Wags - in which the Olympic Mother Cathy MacAleavey has been setting the racing pace of late, though David MacFarlane won on Wednesday – are in good hands as Carol O’Rourke is coordinating their arrangements. But anyway they’ve useful experience here, as seven of them travelled to the 2015 Semaine du Golfe du Morbihan, and eight came back. They returned with a new boat for Adam Winkelmann which had been built to the class’s ancient designs by Mike Newmeyer and his team at the inspirational boat-building school Skol ar Mor.
Skol ar Mor – which is located near the entrance to the Morbihan – is currently building a new Howth 17 for Ian and Judith Malcolm, but she won’t be finished until July as her construction is timed to phase in with the school’s term periods. But in any case, the Malcolms are keen to make their debut for the Howth 17s at Morbihan with their 1898-vintage boat Aura, which they’ve owned, lovingly cared for and raced very regularly since 1980.
It’s not the first time the Howth 17s have travelled far from their ancestral home, in fact it’s not the first time they’ve been to France, as a trio went to the Brest Festival in 1972. But road travel technology for little old boats wasn’t so advanced 45 years ago, so it wasn’t until 1998 that another road migration was taken on, with seven of them going to Belfast Lough to celebrate their centenary at their birthplace at Carrickfergus. They sailed the 90 miles home.
Then in 2005 they’d a seriously major movement, when an incredible 15 managed to get to the Glandore Classics involving an efficiently-organised set of low loaders which could take the boats down to West Cork three or even four at a time.
The Howth 17s are nothing if not individualistic, so the regimentation essential to the success of this expedition was exhausting for them. It took a while for the normal busy season of racing (usually they’ve sixty races a year) to resume once they’d got home. So since then, they’ve been building up a group of owners within the class who have proper road trailers, and that was the means used to get seven boats to Belfast Lough for last year’s 150th Anniversaries of Carrickfergus Sailing Club and Royal Ulster Yacht Club, together with the celebration of the yacht and boat-building achievement of the John Hilditch yard at Carrickfergus.
But there’s a heck of a difference between taking just part of a morning to road-trail mostly on motorways from Howth to Bangor, and trailing your boat from Dublin to the Morbihan via the Rosslare-Cherbourg ferry. The Water Wags know they can do it, but for the much heavier Howth 17s and their interesting selection of four-wheel-drive towing vehicles, they’re facing a total haul of 540 kilometres, 348 of them in France.
Naturally, there are those who’ll say that boats of this vintage should live pampered lives. But the Howth 17s are nothing if not adventurous, and Irish Ferries have been so much taken with all this that four of the boats and their towing vehicles are travelling the ferries there and back for free, so between them the six travelling equipes have only had to divvy up for two boats’ cost.
Nevertheless as two of the boats – Aura and Roddy Cooper’s Leila - are from the original 1898 Hilditch-built five, they’re moving a uniquely precious cargo on a project very far removed from their origins. So far removed, in fact, that I can’t help but imagine John Hilditch urging on his men on a Monday morning early in the Spring of 1898 with the inspiring words: “C’mon, lads, we have to build these new Howth boats strong and true, for in 119 years time their owners will want to trail them the 217 miles from Cherbourg to Vannes on some sort of road cart.”
Quite. Either way, it will be an exhausting journey, but it’s the sort of project which re-energises those involved as it moves along, and once they’ve got to the Morbihan, the Water Wag and Howth 17s sailors will find themelves among kindred spirits. It’s something they need from time to time. Only the other day I was asked to reveal to a non-sailor what the Water Wags are all about in 2017, and found it very challenging. For how can you explain the inexplicable?
Around the Morbihan, there’ll be no need to explain. Yet even in France supposedly among members of the same nautical religion, the Howth 17s and the Water Wags will find themselves slightly at odds with the crew of some other boat types, as the essence of both the Irish classes is that they race a lot, so much so that both classes are healthier than ever. But that is not always to the taste of all those who simply love old boats for themselves, and find that keeping them in good order and sailing them in non-competitive style on various expeditions within the ambit of the Semaine du Golfe du Morbihan is all that is required.
But the Morbihan has so much to offer that there’s something for everyone, and for smaller racing boats that want racing, there’ll be racing available. As for others who simply like sport in sailing challenging bits of sea, the tides in the Morbihan whoosh in and out through the narrow entrance with such vigour that many treat it like a nautical ski slope.
This is markedly unlike the attitude at the entrance to Strangford Lough. There, the tide-race on the bar is admittedly on a bigger scale, but it’s regarded as something to be avoided. At the Morbihan by contrast, there are small boat sailors who’ll spend their whole day crawling in the eddies against the tide, and then returning with it in the middle of the full exuberant burst of the rip.
For those with more leisurely tastes, there are all sorts of waterside establishments where lunch can go on for ever, but be very sure to have secured your table by 12:30pm. And as for visiting other boats, that too can go on for ever.
Certainly there are some with which the Howth folk should link up. A noted presence will be the McGruer 8 Metre Cruiser/Racer Orana of 1959 vintage. For many years she was based in Howth under Johnny Pearson’s ownership, and she had her moments, including winning the 1966 RORC Beaumaris-Cork Race overall. She was the first yacht I ever did the Lambay Race aboard, and when you do your first Lambay Race with the likes of Johnny Pearson, Bob Fannin and Brendan Murray, you learn an awful lot about what living in Howth is going to involve, and you even learn a little about racing round Lambay.
Orana had been off the radar for decades, but now she has re-emerged, spic and span in French ownership and ready to strut her stuff in the Morbihan in three weeks time when she’ll be part of a mind-blowing feet. In fact, so diverse is the fleet, that while most of it will be the challenge of recognising what’s going past, some are worth seeking out directly, and one such is surely the famous Pen Duick, Eric Tabarly’s original boat, a Fife-designed 15-tonner which started life in 1898 at Carrigaloe on Cork Harbour.
Originally, she was given the unlovely name of Yum, and her owner, one Adolphus Fowler of the Royal Munster YC, was evidently feeling prosperous, for at the same time he had the Carrigaloe yard built him the Cork Harbour One Design Jap.
Both boats still sail the sea, but mercifully Yum soon received a pleasanter name as she was quickly sold, and she is now immortalised as Pen Duick, the eternal beauty brought back to life by Eric Tabarly to be an extraordinary link between William Fife of Scotland, Cork Harbour in Ireland, and all that is best in French sailing in Brittany.
In a league like this, the little boats from Ireland will need to do something special to fulfill their role. But I think that the poster that the Howth 17s commissioned from local artist Carol O’Mara for display on the various sites around the Morbihan is definitely a step in the right direction. There’ll be so many messages flying around from all sources that something which says what it wants to say so well, so simply, and so directly will make the most impact.
In all last year’s celebrations of the 150th Anniversaries of Royal Ulster Yacht Club and Carrickfergus Sailing Club on Belfast Lough, it was generally overlooked that neither is the senior club on the lough, even though both were founded way back in 1866 writes W M Nixon.
But now friendly little old Holywood Yacht Club, with its hospitable clubhouse and drying anchorage close east of Belfast itself, no longer needs to draw attention to the fact that it was founded in 1862, even if that clearly makes it the daddy of them all. For on the last Saturday night of March 2017, Holywood Yacht Club put itself in a league of its own as it was graced with the presence of 71-year-old singer-songwriter Sir George Ivan Morrison OBE. And he was so keen to do what he does best, which is to sing his heart out with his own unique version of soul music and rhythm and blues, that it made for an incredible night.
The occasion was a semi-surprise charity gig which has already become – after just ten days - a piece of rock and roll legend. It was a fund-raiser for the Marie Curie hospice in East Belfast in memory of the late Billy Deane. His old mates laid it on in style, and the bands from times past (in some instances, times very long past) who joined the show included Inis Mor, the Alan McKelvey Blues Band, the Leah McConnell Band, Lee Hedley’s Ram Jam, George Jones and Friends, and the Pikestone Preachers.
With a line–up like that, the audience felt they were more than getting their money’s worth for tickets which had cost just £10. It has to have been the best tenner they’ve ever spent, for next on stage was the Monarchs, who had been at the top of their popularity in the early 1960s.
At that time their lead singer was a very young Van Morrison. But he left soon after an early 1960s tour of Germany to go solo or have his own band. We can remember him building his career with anything that was on offer, including performing for friends at parties in little houses hidden among the rolling hills along the west shore of Strangford Lough, around 1966 and ’67.
An unreal feeling of those days of fifty and more years ago will have permeated Holywood Yacht Club when the legend stepped up on stage to be re-united with the Monarchs for the first time in 54 years. He gave it his best with his first number being his own version of Sweet Little Sixteen as a tribute to the recently departed Chuck Berry. Along with Van Morrison, the original Monarch survivors Billy McAllen, Roy Kane and George Jones were getting the support of Mervyn Crawford on saxophone and Kevin Brennan on keyboards.
A new standard has been set in sailing club entertainment – has any other club ever had Van Morrison on stage?
To talk numbers, Roy Kane quipped that the originals between them provided 355 years of rock and roll stage experience. The money raised had been just £1,600, but that was before anyone knew Van the Man was on his way. Modest funds perhaps, but the great memories are now purest priceless gold. And in a year’s time, just about everyone for miles around will somehow find they well remember being there…