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Displaying items by tag: Ballyholme

It was a challenging, very windy two days at Ballyholme on Belfast Lough for the ILCA Ulster Championships last weekend.

The big fleet in three divisions, ILCA 4, 6 and 7, attracted 47 competitors from as far away as Glandore in Co. Cork, Dublin Bay, Tralee, Cork, Wexford and Wicklow, and they joined the northern contingent for what proved to be an energetic weekend of Laser competition.

Busy Ewan McMahon of Howth Yacht Club was the ILCA7 Ulster Championships winner is pictured with Commodore Rob Milligan. Prior to the Ulsters event, McMahon competed at a windless Moth Worlds in the UK and the 1720 Euros at Kinsale. His big target this season is the first Olympic qualification opportunity for Paris 2024 at the World Sailing Championships in The Netherlands in AugustBusy Ewan McMahon of Howth Yacht Club was the ILCA7 Ulster Championships winner is pictured with Commodore Rob Milligan. Prior to the Ulsters event, McMahon competed at a windless Moth Worlds in the UK and the 1720 Euros at Kinsale. His big target this season is the first Olympic qualification opportunity for Paris 2024 at the World Sailing Championships in The Netherlands in August Photo: Jess Mackey

Between them, brother and sister Eve and Ewan McMahon took home two trophies to Howth Yacht Club, both proving invincible, counting a clean sheet each, Eve in the 19-strong ILCA 6 fleet and Ewan first of 20 in the ILCA 7.

ILCA 4 runner up Eolann Miles from Glandore Harbour Photo: Tim McCarthyILCA 4 runner up Eolann Miles from Glandore Harbour Photo: Tim McCarthy

In the ILCA 4, Viktor Samoilovs (Malahide YC) counted three seconds and a first to finish clear ahead of the far-travelled runner up Eolann Miles of Glandore Harbour. Third was Eve McCarthy of Royal Cork who along with Miles, managed to discard an NSC in the first race but, despite having to count an OCS, totalled three good results of two firsts and a third.

ILCA 4 Winner Viktor Samoilovs of Malahide YC with Commodore Rob Milligan Photo: Jess MackeyILCA 4 Winner Viktor Samoilovs of Malahide YC with Commodore Rob Milligan Photo: Jess Mackey

 The Ballyholme YC team for the Ulster ILCA championships staged in Belfast Lough The Ballyholme YC team for the Ulster ILCA championships staged in Belfast Lough

The best local result in ILCA 6 came from Bobby Driscoll from Royal North of Ireland YC, just six miles west of Ballyholme. He discarded a DNF but counted otherwise three seconds and a third to claim runner-up. In third was Patrick Hamilton from East Down YC on Strangford Lough.

Bobby Driscoll from Royal North of Ireland YC runner up in the ILCA6 Photo: Jess MackeyBobby Driscoll from Royal North of Ireland YC runner up in the ILCA6 Photo: Jess Mackey

And in ILCA 7, the best host club performance came from runner-up Colin Leonard, who proving consistency pays, put together a string of seconds to finish in runner-up slot. Conor Byrne from Royal St George was fortunate to be able to discard a UFD for a premature start in the first race to count three thirds and a fourth.

An ILCA 7 nearly airborne - James Murphy from Wexford Harbour finished eighth overall Photo: Rob MilliganAn ILCA 7 nearly airborne - James Murphy from Wexford Harbour finished eighth overall Photo: Rob Milligan

The next big event for Ballyholme is the Irish Topper Championships’ nine-race three-day event starting 7th July.

Commodore Rob Milligan was delighted that racing was so good; “Despite very challenging conditions over the weekend, the racing went well without incident. The volunteers worked hard to keep the sailors safe on the water and the onshore team proved a well-practised group”.

Published in Laser
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The RS event comprising the National Championship for RS200s and RS400s and the Northerns for RS Fevas, 2000s and Aeros at Ballyholme YC last weekend was judged an outstanding success, particularly in that it attracted many younger sailors and some of the prizes were awarded for that participation.

As Afloat reported previously, over the three days, conditions varied wildly with winds mostly in the south but with fickle strengths from 20 knots to very light and, in that direction, mostly manageable seas.

Race Officers were Aidan Pounder from the host club and Sheela Lewis of County Antrim YC on the north shore of Belfast Lough.

The biggest fleet was the RS400s and here it was the event organiser Bob Espey with Richard McCullough who topped the 18-strong entry with seven wins in the nine races.

David Fletcher and Ryan Smith  were the RS 2000 winners Photo: Simon McIlwaineDavid Fletcher and Ryan Smith were the RS 2000 winners Photo: Simon McIlwaine

Second were Mikey Ferguson and Phillip Adams from BYC who also won the Mug of the Week prize for (it was said) having chilled out too long on the Friday morning and missed the first race. The Greystones pair, Conor Galligan and Evan Smith were third.

The decisive winners in the RS200 fleet were Joycelyn Hill and Jenny Lewis from County Antrim YC and runners up were Alex and Martin Roe from Galway City SC who made the five-hour journey to be there. The Roes tell me that their Club is relatively new and right in the heart of the City and that’s where the RS Westerns will be held on 17th and 18th September.

County Antrim YC's Joycelyn Hill and Jenny Lewis  were RS 200 winners  Photo: Simon McIlwaine

Local man Liam Glynn dominated the Aeros with a string of firsts and second overall was Howth sailor Daragh Sheridan with five-second places and a third as discard.

Daragh Sheridan (3187) from Howth RS Aero runner up and John Simms (Ballyholme YC) Photo: Simon McIlwaine Daragh Sheridan (3187) from Howth RS Aero runner up and John Simms (Ballyholme YC)

The interest in the Feva class at Ballyholme has grown dramatically this season and some of the Club boats have been rented and some are privately owned.

Feva racing Photo: Simon McIlwaineFeva racing Photo: Simon McIlwaine

Originally the Club rented to the youngsters to encourage the class, and some of them were keen enough to buy boats of their own which freed up the rentals. Winners here were Ross and Ellie Nolan from Royal North of Ireland YC, who also took the family prize, with the Ridout family in second and third.

Matthew and Peter Ridout, runners up in the Feva class Photo: Simon McIlwaineMatthew and Peter Ridout, runners up in the Feva class Photo: Simon McIlwaine

The runners up were Matthew and ten-year-old Peter and third Emily and Annabel. Glynis Ridout explained how the Feva class is organised “In the RS Feva fleet, we welcome family team combinations of say, parent and child as we know how much a young sailor’s confidence can be boosted by this experience.

RS Feva Northern Champions Annabel (left) and Emily Ridout with organiser Bob Espey Photo: Rachel NixonRS Feva Northern Champions Annabel (left) and Emily Ridout with organiser Bob Espey Photo: Rachel Nixon

But the Northerns can only be won by helm and crew who are both under 18”. So third placed Emily and Annabel Ridout took that prize. year old Peter and Matthew Ridout runners up in the Feva class are congratulated by organiser Bob Espey (centre) Photo Rachel Nixon

BYC had hosted an RYA two day training event before the RS event and no doubt that served to hone the skills of the competitors.

Dave Fletcher and Ryan Smith had a clean sweep in the RS 2000 fleet with Aileen and Dave Smith runners up.

At the prizegiving, Rear Commodore Sailing Des Magee thanked all the volunteers.

Results are downloadable below as a PDF file

Published in RS Sailing
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Betty Amstrong explores past boatbuilding ventures in Ballyholme in the seaside town of Bangor on Belfast Lough.

Did you know that before Enrico Caproni built his famous ‘Palais de Dance’ in 1928 on Seacliff Road that there was a shipyard on that site on the corner of Seaforth Road?

In fact, there were two businesses carrying out shipbuilding and associated work in Ballyholme. In March 1919 Chesney McCormick and Francis J B Connolly together applied for permission to build a ‘Workshop or shed of brick, roofed with slates’ on the west side of Seacliff Road. Connolly was an architect and civil engineer and the 1911 Census shows he lived on Bryansburn Road when he was 23. There are also reports of him being elected as a student member of the Ulster Society of Architects in 1906. In December 1919 McCormick lodged plans for a temporary ‘Boat house and Spar shed’ on Seacliff Road near College Gardens, a terrace part of which became the Ballyholme Hotel.

Francis Connolly North Down Herald 2nd Nov 1920An advertisement from the North Down Herald of 2nd Nov 1920

In 1920 and 1921 Connolly was advertising under the name Bangor Boat Building Works and in April 1923 McCormick and the Bangor Boat Building Works applied to build a ‘Wooden shop and dwelling’ on the south side of Seaforth Road. The launching slip for the yard was opposite and can still be seen today beside Ballyholme Yacht Club.

McCormicks yard in the 1920sMcCormick's Yard in the 1920s

Pictorial records show that McCormick & Co had a shed where Kingsland Nursing Home is today, and this appears to be the location where the Shipyard business carried on into the future. It provided winter storage for the local racing yachts such as Dancers and Rivers and for yachts and motorboats up to 20 tons and built a launching slip opposite. It had a distinctive curve and is still there today. McCormick & Co didn’t last long and on 30th October 1924, the business was advertised for sale. The reason for the demise can be seen in a letter of reference from McCormick & Co in the Public Record Office in respect of a Robert Eddys of Ballymagee Street (High Street) Bangor, which shows that he was an ex-seaman and a rigger and was dismissed owing to shortage of work. The date is 24th October 1924.

Old slip at BallyholmeThe old slipway at Ballyholme

Enrico Caproni may have foreseen the demise of the business on the corner of Seaforth Road for in June 1923 he submitted plans for ‘Refreshment Rooms and a temporary shop’. The Bangor Boat Building Works faded from record, but it is known that the slip was transferred to the sailing club at Ballyholme which at the time met in the clubhouse on Kingsland which is now the Table Tennis club. The slip can still be seen today at low tide.

Lovetts Shipyard Lts. showing Rivers in winter storage Lovetts Shipyard Ltd showing Rivers in winter storage

The McCormick business was bought by a Mr. W J Lovett, who was one of the Senior Naval Architects and a Director in the Workman Clark & Co shipyard in Belfast. He called the business The Shipyard Company Ltd and in 1925 added a store. By this time Caproni had his café which he called the Mirimar.

In 1926 Mr Lovett asked Robert (Bertie) Slater, a naval architect in Workman Clark’s, to manage the yard. Prior to the liquidation of the company McCormick was building yachts of the Dancing class for Royal Ulster Yacht Club.

The completion of two Dancing Class yachts which had been abandoned was Bertie Slater’s first job. The yard also built ships lifeboats for the Port Line whose liners were being constructed by Workman Clark.
In 1930 the yard built one of the largest boats, a 50 ft passenger-carrying cabin launch for the Lough Erne Boat Co. It made the passage to Belfast under its own power and was then lifted onto a special railway truck and transported to Enniskillen where it was launched into Lower Lough Erne. The shipyard also built six-cabin cruisers for Hyland Ltd and in 1934 a 35ft Motor Yacht, the Moya, for Mr Lovett and to his own design.

The 50 ft Passenger Launch for Lough ErneThe 50 ft Passenger Launch for Lough Erne

In 1932 Bertie Slater lodged plans for an ‘Iron Shed’. He had married and settled in Ballyholme in 1928 and by 1937 he owned the yard. The late Thirties was a time of slump and little money and the yard struggled to survive. During the war, the yard was very busy with Admiralty work. In addition to maintaining a large fleet of patrol boats and trawlers, the yard built Torpedo Recovery Boats for Lough Neagh. Some of the boats in Bangor had escaped from occupied Norway, Holland, France and Belgium.

Towards the end of the war, Slater built 50-foot-long flat-bottomed Scows for magnetic minesweeping and 36-foot Harbour Launches, some of which were used at Arromanches, one of the D Day beaches. He was also asked by the Admiralty if he could build 112-foot wooden Minesweepers. For this, he identified a suitable site at nearby Groomsport and requested a grant of £10k for a slip, shed, winch and machinery, but was refused. Years later he was told if he had asked for £100k he would have got it!

Slater’s upper yard had a large shed for boat building and repairs. The rest was used for Winter storage and Spring fitting out of yachts and motorboats. The fact that boats could be driven ashore from their moorings in the Bay in onshore gales, provided the yard with extra business for repairs.

Slater subsequently built a sheet metal workshop to cope with Ventilation Trunking for mills and factories. The shipyard installed the ventilation ducting in The Tonic Cinema in the late Thirties. A second building shed was constructed alongside the original shed to cope with RNLI repairs and maintenance.

After the war Slater designed the S Class cruiser, a superb affordable sailing yacht built in the traditional way by skilled craftsmen. The S-class boats are sturdy cruisers, well suited to Irish and Scottish waters. Many of these yachts are still sailing today.

In 1958 Bruce Cowley, who had retired from HMRC, bought the yard. Cowley continued the S Class production, making a total of 22 built in Bangor between 1946 and 1964. He also built well-known large cruising yachts; Jaynor for Ivan Selig built with the Fastnet race in mind, the famous Duncrue for Sean McNeill, and Trasna of Ely for the Duke of Westminster on Lough Erne.

In 1969 the yard was in receivership and Frank Smyth, who at this time owned a small boatyard in Donaghadee and a chandlery in Bangor, bought the business and for a time traded as Bangor Yacht Supply Co. In 1975 it became Bangor Shipyard Ltd. When Frank started the workshop had an earthen floor and very old equipment which he replaced with gear from the Donaghadee workshop.

His venture into boat building began with three small wooden punts and then with the introduction of fibreglass, Smyth made his own small dinghy moulds and began producing them. He subsequently shipped in fibreglass hulls from England and fitted them out. These he sold in the small chandlery in Bangor. The first big job in the Shipyard was repairing Velia for the well-known hotelier, George Ralston and the yard was also recognized for the repair of the Donaghadee, Aranmore, Cloughey and Portrush lifeboats. The lifeboat work was suspended by the RNLI for fear of terrorist action (this was during the Troubles) but Smyth grasped the opportunity and obtained the contract for repairing two pilot boats from Carrickfergus which were damaged by an explosion.

Up until this time Smyth had to lay rails in sections on the road on which to make the transfer from the yard to the slip, which took at least an hour. Frank approached the then Town Surveyor, Martin Gray, who persuaded the Council to allow rails to be embedded in concrete in the road to make the movement smoother and easier. On one notable occasion, the Seacliff Road had been blocked when the concrete rail bedding collapsed due to the fishplates not having been fitted properly!

Another improvement resulted from the purchase of a secondhand winch (which was to have been scrapped) from the Belfast aerospace company Short Bros for £25 and an ex RAF tractor bought in an auction for £100. Frank also acquired a hydraulic crane and for several years, Fred, the crane driver was in demand across the country for lifting boats.

Building and repairing fishing boats formed a substantial part of the business. This developed into a full-blown boat building business with a sizeable workforce. Many of the names will be familiar to seafarers – Elias Scott (Scottie) who was awarded a BEM, Willie Harvey, Ken Bewley, Jimmy Hamilton and Norman Henry. Government grants for fishing boats made the financial situation easier and this part of the yard flourished for about ten years. At this point Smyth was building larger fishing boats of 70 feet in length and to accommodate these he demolished the old shed and built a larger one. The maintenance and refurbishment of RNLI lifeboats also formed a large part of the business.

Iona Car Cattle and Caravam TransporterIona car, cattle and caravan transporter

Among the many fishing boats Smyth fitted out was the 30-ton Ros Mor for local fisherman, the late Jack Miller. The Fragrant Cloud, Xmas Star and the Jubilee Star, the Sarna and the Iona were other craft among many. The latter was built for Tommy Cecil of Rathlin. It was the first fully decked ferry boat built for trade between Ballycastle and Rathlin. Subsequently, to Frank’s surprise, Tommy asked for the decks to be strengthened. It turned out he was carrying cattle, cars and caravans!

Launch of Xmas StarLaunch of Xmas Star

By this time the Government had built sophisticated slips at Kilkeel and Portavogie, wooden construction was diminishing, and grants were cut, all making boatbuilding difficult. Then came Bangor Marina. Smyth was invited to tender for the Bangor boatyard contract, but for him this was unworkable and as boatbuilding at Ballyholme was no longer viable and the yard closed in 1991.

The author acknowledges the help in gathering this information of Ronnie Slater, son of one of the owners and Frank Smyth, the last owner of the yard. Also, of Leanne Briggs of North Down Museum, and of the Public Record Office

Published in Belfast Lough

Preparations are well underway for the Laser Radial Youth European Championships to be held at Ballyholme Yacht Club this summer from 5th to 11th July 2020.

Over 200 applications have been received from across the world already - although this is a European Championships with entries from 18 European countries so far, there is also an open event with an 11 strong USA team conspicuous amongst other entries from Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Guatemala, Canada, Netherlands Antilles and the US Virgin Islands.

Local interest includes Ballyholme sailor Dan McGaughey who was Irish Youth Sailor of the year in 2018 and is currently training with the GBR squad despite the extra travelling required. The Irish squad though is strong as evidenced at the Irish Laser Nationals last summer when Michael O’Sulleabhain won ahead of Tom Higgins, Dan and a number of visiting UKLA sailors.

Irish ladies will be focussing on Howth’s Eve McMahon who despite only turning 16 recently is trialling for the Tokyo Olympics this week in Melbourne Australia at the 2020 Laser Radial Worlds against 3 seniors including Rio Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy. Eve won the Under 17 section of the Laser Radial Youth Worlds in Canada last summer. Also sailing in Melbourne are 3 Australian girls who are heading to Ballyholme - Eve is ahead of them at the midway point in the regatta.

Sailors are expected to arrive from as early as Friday 26th June with a number including the GBR squad looking to take part in the Laser Ulster Championships on the weekend of 27th/28th June at County Antrim Yacht Club, Whitehead. This event should allow sailors to acclimatise with their first views of Belfast Lough and what to expect weather-wise - their race arena is on the northern side of Belfast Lough opposite Bangor.

The Championships are expecting to host 250 to 350 sailors.

Published in Laser
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Last week Ballyholme’s Dan McGaughey won the youth title and second overall in the Laser Radial UK Nationals at Largs, Scotland. This followed Howth Yacht Club’s Eve McMahon who won the Under 17 Laser Radial Youth Worlds title the week previous in Kingston, Canada. And of course, Eve’s brother Jamie won the Under-21 Laser Radial European title back in May in Porto. It all points to some home talent building for the Laser Radial European Youth Championships which Ballyholme will host next summer in July 2020.

Before that - Ballyholme Yacht Club will host the 2019 Irish Laser National Championships from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th August 2019 with support from Ards and North Down Borough Council, CH Marine, Quay Marinas, the Salty Dog hotel and the Guillemot Deli & Kitchen Cafe.

As Afloat reported previously, this is the first major Laser event at Ballyholme since 2014 when Ballyholme’s James Espey was attempting to keep eventual Rio rep Finn Lynch at bay, and Annalise Murphy was on her way to Olympic Silver at Rio 2016.

Published in Laser
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Sunday afternoon saw the second race of the Lisglass Builders Icebreakers Series with a wide range of dinghies across all classes.

The Topper class is still depleted with squad training going on elsewhere but it was good to see Freya Sharp out for her first race in one of the BYC Eric Twiname boats, and 3 Fevas on the water with the brother-sister crew of Jamie and Ellie Mackey battling around the race course. Memories were evoked from 35 years ago of the Flannigan brothers - similarly competitive in their Cadet dinghy. Ollie Haig scored his second win of the series in the Topper while Catherine Pooler and Anna Wilson from SLYC similarly won the Low PY class.

In the larger PY class, Gareth Flannigan and Dave Fletcher stormed away from his brother Robin with Diane Burgess in the RS400s, and the rest of the following RS200s, Laser 2000s and Sandra Halliwell going it alone this week in her new RS Aero 5. Hopefully Susanna will be not be forgotten.

The Multihull fleet saw a new F18 entrant in the guise of Andrew Gallagher and his novice crew "Gordon" Ritson. Great to see Aaron being dragged into the family sport. The F18 fleet all started on port against Stephen Magee alone in his Dart 18 with the well poslished crew of Adrian Allen and Barry Swanston getting up to speed first and building up a big lead by the finish.

Russell McGovern has been a welcome addition to the Laser Icebreaker fleet this year, having not sailed in the dinghy since his Australian days and now many years after his Olympic campaign before joining his brother Matt in the 49er. In recent times, he has been very successful imparting his knowledge to the ISA Radial squad including Ballyholme's Liam Glynn who won a Europa Cup event last summer.

A southerly breeze encouraged many of the Laser fleet to go for the pin-end of the line with those able to tack and get away quickly up the shore to the South east mark making the gains. Russell showed his speed rounding the first mark in the lead from Mark Mackey closely followed by Richard Ramsey and Garth Maxwell. Chris Boyd sailed down on the outside of the first downwind to chase Russell with Robin Moran close on his heels. The usual carnage and hailing could be heard behind.

A great race ensued with places changing rapidly and then rewon. With Russell now covering, Chris Boyd closed within striking distance at the end. Richard Ramsey nipped in front of Robin Moran for third place, with Robin also losing out to Phil Anderson who took the shorter route to the finish line. It will be the last time Mark Mackey tells Phil which way to go, finishing 6th behind the two of them.

In the Laser Radial fleet, Tom Purdon showed some great speed although learnt a few lessons in which Lasers to cross and which not to mess with. Liam Glynn won with Brian Bibby coming second ahead of Tom. In the Laser 4.7 fleet, new RYANI squad member Sam Rutherford scored his first win.

Next week sees Race 3 but there may be issues with Irelands triumphant win over France meaning a Sunday start against Argentina at 1300. Stay tuned to Ballyholme's Facebook page for any changes.

Full results here

Published in Belfast Lough
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#ballyholme – Thankfully the wind had dropped a bit from Saturday and racing was definitely on. The sun even made an appearance which did warm things up a bit and the breeze held out to give us a great sail for race 6 in the second part of the Ice-breaker Series. Some intrepid travellers had gone to Rome to support Ireland!.. and a few others took off for the bank holiday weekend.

The sensible people stayed at home and had a feast of rugby on the Saturday and then enjoyed a lovely Sunday afternoon on the water...followed by a few beers. 

Robin Gray attempted to give us another windward leeward course but at the start the wind was not really playing ball. It was shifting and looked like it may drop, so wisely he reverted to normal course. 

The Laser fleet got underway in a relatively calm start...... apart from Brian Spence who got a little excited and started his race before the gun........ He returned to start correctly but was caught by the flag! 

Everyone else got away and the first beat was to the North East Mark. Most of the fleet dived to the far shore making their way up the right hand side of the beat. The wind was shifting a bit so their were gains and losses to be made. At the windward mark the leading boats had a familiar ring to them. Gareth Flannigan, Chris Boyd and David Fletcher. Also in the front of the fleet was Charlie Westhurst. Charlie was right up with the leaders and showed no sign of slipping back. Keith Storey and Paddy Brow were also going well and with Conor Brown and Andrew Kennedy this made up the sharp end of the fleet. Alex Wards dulcet tones could be heard near the front of the fleet. He was storming his way round the course and was attempting to sabotage Charlie's good race.

Hammy Baker was lurking just behind the front 3 and on the last lap he decided to play his joker. He took the opposite side of the beat and hit the left hand corner. Low and behold there was a favourable wind shift and he arrived at the windward mark on the last lap way ahead of anyone else. You could see amusement on the faces of the 3 guys who were leading up until that point.....not.

So Hammy held the lead to take his first bullet of this series and also put himself into 1st place overall. He has had a great run of results since Christmas and is putting a bit of pressure on Flipper. He is one point behind Hammy at this stage with Chris Boyd 3 points further back on 17 and David Fletcher on 20. So with 2 races left it will be a very close call between the top 4.

Mike Kimber, Keith Storey and Peter Kennedy are also having a good second series. Peter would be putting a lot more pressure on the top guys if he had managed a few more races.

In the Laser Radial fleet Jessica Rutherford recorded her second bullet of the series and moved to 1st place overall, on equal points with Tim Brow. This will make a very interesting end to this fleets series as Ryan Glyn is just 3 points behind in 3rd place and Sarah Eames in 4th

Another Rutherford leads the 4.7 fleet. Rebekah had another first on Sunday which moves her 4 points clear of Sean Ritson.

In the large dinghy fleet the "Olympic duo" of Ryan Seaton and Mat McGovern are just holding off the formidable challenge of Wiclif McCready by 1 point with Liam Donnelly 5 points further back.

Adrian Allen is again leading the way in the multi hulls with a 7 point lead over Dave Anderson.

The topper fleet is being lead by Ben Martin who is 8 points clear of Emma McKnight and 11 clear of Mark McDonough.

Only two races to go as we take a break for a week on Easter Sunday. Final race is 7th April when we plan to have a BBQ prior to the Prizegiving at 6.00pm.

Also - well done to Robbie Gilmore from SLYC and Ballyholme YC with his second place in the Europa Cup Laser Radials at Lake Garda. The RYANI Laser Radial Squad have been training hard at Ballyholme over the weekend and recent months - the first event at Baltimore will be very interesting.

Published in Belfast Lough
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#gp14 – The GP14 Irish National Championships took place last Saturday and Sunday at Ballyholme Yacht Club. The event was kindly sponsored by Craftinsure Insurance and North Down Borough Council Tourism. Almost 40 boats from Ireland and England attended the event which was seen as a warm up event for the World Championships in Cornwall in three weeks time. Full results are downloadable as word doc below.

Racing was delayed on Saturday morning due to a lack of wind. The wind eventually filled in to 15 – 18 knots from the south to give three full length races. All three races were won by the English pair, Mike Senior and Chris White. With the forecast of heavy winds on Sunday the Race Officer, Robin Gray, was determined to get three races completed on Saturday to constitute a series.

As it was the winds did increase for racing on Sunday but did not stop racing going ahead. Two races were completed with winds reaching 28 knots at times. Mike Senior and Chris White coped best in the testing conditions and continued their dominance to score two further wins. The competition for second place was very tight with Shane MacCarthy and Andrew Thompson coming in just ahead of Simon Potts and Pete Grey. Shane and Andrew were first Irish boat. Ross Kearney, formerly from North Down but now working and living in England came in fourth with his crew Ed Bradburn.

The Silver Fleet was won by Gerard O'Sullivan and Hugh McNally who finished well inside the gold fleet boats in 11th place overall. First in the Bronze Fleet went to Michael Cox and Nigel Sloan from Newtownards. Michael and Nigel finished 22nd overall.

Mike Senior's dominance puts him in strong contention for the World Championships in August. Almost 20 boats from Ireland will be making the journey across to compete in the week-long event. A fleet of 130 boats are due to take part.

The final results of the event were as follows:-

1st Mike Senior & Chris White

2nd Shane MacCarthy & Andy Thompson

3rd Simon Potts & Pete Grey

4th Ross Kearney & Ed Bradburn

5th Dave Young & Shona Fleming

6th David Fletcher & Laura McFarland

7th Graham Elmes & Melanie Morris

8th Keith Louden & Dessie Hughes

9th Bryan Willis & Ruan O'Tiarnaigh

10th Alistair Duffin & Paul Whitcombe

Silver Fleet

1st Gerard O'Sullivan & Hugh McNally

2nd Daniel Gill & Cillian McGreer

3rd Daniel Gallagher & Gareth Gallagher

Bronze Fleet

1st Michael Cox & Nigel Sloan

2nd James Ogg & Ronan O'Beirne

3rd Peter Smyth & Jackie Malone

Published in GP14

#OLYMPICBallyholme and Royal Ulster Yacht Club sailor, James Espey has been campaigning to go to the Olympics in Weymouth this summer. As part of his campaign he is hosting a Fundraising Day on Saturday 18 February at BYC. This will include a day of coaching and racing, then and an evening party. The coaching will be taken by James himself and a guest coach. Top Laser sailors will be racing – come along and pace yourself against the best Laser sailors in the Northern Ireland.

In the evening there is a great party planned – Dinner and Cocktails, an Olympic auction and entertainment with music. Come along to support 'Bapsy' and send him on his Olympic journey.

James will be competing in Germany at the Laser Worlds and this is the event he is anticipating to qualify for the Games.

Saturday, 18 February

Laser Coaching 1130-1300hrs

Lunch 1300-1400 (Soup & Rolls)

Laser Racing 1400 – 3 races

Dinner & Cocktails 1900hrs

Auction @ 2030

Tickets for the full day are £30, £15 for the evening dinner and entertainment

Published in Olympics 2012

Questions over the next step for juniors after the RS Feva point to the bigger RS200 writes Feva sailor Ciara Byrne

The RSFeva has become the world's best selling two-person dinghy in recent years with fleets also growing in clubs all over Ireland. It is fast becoming the most popular and widespread choice for teenagers and youth sailors who enjoy competitive, active and exciting sailing.

However many questions were being asked recently at the RSFeva Nationals, held in Crosshaven, Co. Cork, regarding the next step for young, talented sailors who wish to continue racing in large fleets without the difficult transition of transferring from the Feva into a larger, unfamiliar dinghy. This uncertainty has led to many sailors dropping out of sailing altogether, while the remainder have split the fleet into Lasers, the 420/470 or moved on to cruisers.

However these dinghies require a lot of time and effort of getting used to, leaving some sailors frustrated and also, less motivated. To avoid this altogether, there is one simple solution: the RS200.

The RS200 is a spacious, one-design, double-handed, hiking, high-performance dinghy which has developed a huge following at club, circuit and championship level in the UK with a growing fleet in Ireland. A pivoting centreboard and rudder allow easy launch and recovery with a thwart giving the crew a comfortable position for light winds. With the asymmetric spinnaker, similar rigging and a similar design, it can be considered as a larger and faster Feva which makes for an easy changeover and the most logical and simple step up.

The ideal weight for an RS200 is 115-145kg (18-23 stone) which allows people of all ages to sail and race effectively in this dinghy. Ideal for teenagers emerging from the Feva, parents, youths, couples, friends and relatives can also come together which enhances the family and social scene.

Even though the 420 has a larger total sail area, the RS200's asymmetric spinnaker of over eight square metres, with a smoother single line hoist and drop system, similar to the Feva's. makes for a faster boat and requires greater tactical and more exciting downwind sailing. This encourages competitive racing and enhanced racing skills.


An RS200 at full speed off Greystones. Photo: Fiachra Etchingham

A maintenance free hull, made of lightweight polyester GRP ensures a long competitive life and second hand boats can be in very good condition so that older hulls are without the disadvantage experienced in fleets such as the 420. Furthermore, every hull comes from the same manufacturer giving no subtle advantage to any one boat; therefore racing just comes down to the sailors' tactics, boat handling and general knowledge of sailing and racing.

While the RS200 is not an Olympic class, there are large UK and Irish fleets which are active and competitive. Johnathan Lewis, a UK Feva coach and RS200 sailor, strongly encourages Feva graduates to move into the RS200 as it is an easy transition and makes for fun and exciting sailing. RS200 fleets are strong in Irish clubs such as those in Northern Ireland including Ballyholme, Newcastle and Cushendall as well as Greystones Sailing Club in Co. Wicklow.

Greystones Sailing Club boasts probably the largest asymmetric dinghy fleet in Ireland with fifty five asymmetric dinghies, twenty one of those being RSFevas and the majority of the remainder being RS200s. Recognising the RS200 as the natural progression from the Feva, ages range from fifteen to fifty five across the RS200 and RS400 fleets in the Club, with most of these boats competing in national events in Ireland, and some in the UK and further afield.


Rounding a mark in the RS200. Photo: Fiachra Etchingham

As fleets build in Dún Laoghaire and Howth yacht clubs, the RS200 is gradually becoming a popular progression from the Feva, and with the RS400 as a follow on boat for larger crews, young sailors can remain involved and spirited in asymmetric racing. The RS200 satisfies a thirst for speed and pace which generates more exciting, competitive and enjoyable sailing for those emerging from Feva fleet.

A Dublin Sailor (who has asked not to be named) has sent us comments on this story:

As one involved in junior and youth sailing at club level, one of the big decisions that faces youths is where to go after junior classes such as Optimists, Toppers, Fevas. Like any other sport, there is a high attrition rate after the age of 14 / 15, especially among girls which is an even greater shame as they can compete on a par with the guys.

We need a class that will keep youths engaged. The 420 & 29er are great boats but require higher levels of boathandling, are much more competitive and tend to attract the top sailors. They also suffer from an inability to match up crews who will stick together - teenagers chop and change all the time and its difficult to race a boat like a 420 / Fireball / 29er wihout a constant crew partnership.

We need a boat/class that:
  1. Enables swapping around of crews without a major impact on the boathandling / teamwork. A sailor's plans for the weekend / event / season are not scuppered because of crewing issues.
  2. Does not need a highly competent crew (e.g. ability to trapeze and fly / gybe a kite etc.) so that sailors can sail with their mates who may not necessarily be top-notch sailors but who can acquit themselves well in a slightly less complex boat.
  3. Has a good mixed social scene which is the most important element of any class, youth or otherwise.
  4. Does not cost the earth in terms of purchase price, is easy on wear & tear on kit (hence replacement & upgrade costs) or does not go soft and become uncompetitive needing a new hull after three to five years etc
  5. Has international competition that is closeby (UK, FR, Bel, Ned etc) for those aspiring to a bit more
  6. Has a motiviated class structure to help grow the class.

The fear is that we are starting out another class that will dilute the current youth class efforts. However I believe that the 420 and 29er will hold their own and continue to attract top sailors with ISAF ambitions.

On the other hand, if we continue to support these we will continue to lose the middle ground (and majority) of young sailors from our sport. Youths are fickle enough and if its too much hassle to deal with all the challenges of getting afloat they just won't bother - sad but true.

The ISA needs to take a lead in this and while its Olympic ambitions are great to see, it will fail the sport as a whole if it does not tackle this gaping need in its portfolio of support.

I believe that the RS200 and R2400 provide the best solution to these challenges. They appear well-built and the manufacturer certainly appears well organised and gets involved.

Looking from outside and without any vested interests (other than the health of junior and youth sailing) the RS's get my vote as a class that can make a radical difference.

Published in RS Sailing
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