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An enormous cruiseship Celebrity Reflection sails into Belfast this morning, bringing thousands of deep-pocketed North Americans to the city's visitor attractions, shops, pubs and restaurants, there are fears it could be the 'end of an era' for this type of tourism.

As The Irish News reports, it comes as the Dublin Port Company sticks to its guns and restricts the number of cruise ships entering its port from 2021 as it increases freight capacity container vessels post-Brexit.

And when cruise ships can't dock in Dublin, then Ireland as a whole could be wiped from tour itineraries - which will impact heavily on Belfast.

In what is known in the industry as a 'turnaround', the Celebrity Reflection dropped off 3,600 cruise tourists in Dublin yesterday while another 3,600 passengers flew into Dublin to begin their cruise, which has Belfast as its next stop today.

Dublin port sees freight (where volumes have swollen by 36 per cent in six years) as more lucrative than cruisers, and last month confirmed the number of tour vessels it will allow to berth will be slashed from 172 in 2019 to as few as 30 in just two years.

Click here to read more on the story.

Published in Cruise Liners

#tallships - The towering and magnificent masts of Tall Ships will grace Belfast city’s skyline once again as the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival sails into town this May.

From Saturday 25 to Monday 27 May, Sailortown, Donegall Quay, Queen’s Quay and Titanic Quarter will come alive at 10am each day with an array of nautical fun and games, food stalls and demos, live music and a treasure trove of street shows and performers.

There will also be opportunities for landlubbers to have their own adventure on the high seas, sailing a kayak, paddle-boarding or even trying yoga on the Lagan.

John Greer, Director of Economic Development said: “Our Maritime Festival is always a great day out and a fantastic opportunity to get together with family and friends on the spectacular waterfront of the city, and this year we’re expanding into nearby Sailortown so there’s even more to see and do.

“Discover more about our city’s seafaring heritage or why not climb aboard some of the visiting Tall Ships and naval vessels that will be docked for the weekend. The spectacular Mexican naval vessel ‘Cuauhtémoc’ will be attending our festival which is really exciting.

“And don’t forget to check out the Maritime Mile – a trail that brings the Titanic Quarter’s maritime and industrial history to life, connecting attractions including the impressively restored naval warship HMS Caroline, one of the world’s largest lighthouse optics, The Great Light, sculptures and viewing points along the way.”

The Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival is organised by Belfast City Council, with support from event partners Tourism NI, Titanic Foundation Ltd and media partner Q Radio.

Orla Ross, Agency Sales Director at Q Radio, said: “We are delighted to be media partner for the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival. This has become an unmissable event in the summer calendar for people all over Northern Ireland. We're looking forward to being there all weekend with our presenters who'll be hosting and broadcasting from this great event.”

Aine Kearney, Director of Business Support and Events at Tourism NI added: “Tourism NI is a proud supporter of the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival 2019. The weekend long festival is a homegrown event celebrating Belfast’s unique maritime history and Titanic legacy providing a platform for visitors to explore and interact with the city.’’

Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation, said: "We are delighted to sponsor this year’s Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival and are incredibly proud of the creative programme which showcases some of the very best in art and culture from local talent through commissions, installations and performances. It’s set to be a busy weekend along the Maritime Mile and we look forward to welcoming local residents and international visitors to celebrate our wonderful maritime heritage.”

Just beyond the Great Light on the Maritime Mile, is HMS Caroline, one of the finalists for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019. Step on board and explore one of the last remaining ships from the First World War. Discover the Captain’s cabins, get hands on with interactive exhibits or walk along the ship’s historic decks.

Sailortown’s St Joseph’s Church will house a special Maritime Heritage exhibition telling the stories of Sailortown's seamen in WW1. On Saturday 25 May, Barrow Square will host an afternoon of Belfast based Rock, Rhythm and Blues.

Getting to and from the festival couldn’t be easier – walk or cycle along the quaysides from Sailortown, Clarendon Dock to HMS Caroline. Additional cycle parking will be available across all sites.

Alternatively, hop on the Metro Glider from the city centre bringing you directly into the heart of Titanic Quarter or come by train to Yorkgate Station or Titanic Halt. There is no dedicated car parking for the event, but festival-goers are encouraged to use city centre car parks, those within Titanic Quarter or the NCP at Corporation Street.

For more event information and how to make the most of your visit to the Maritime Festival website here

Published in Tall Ships

An event which was once a major highlight of the Belfast Lough programme in times past found a new and very active lease of life when Bangor Town Regatta was re-introduced as a major biennial event in July 2018. The developing RC 35 class - with boats from Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales - provided the backbone of a fleet which pushed towards the hundred mark, and a useful variety of excellent sailing conditions in superb weather put the seal of success on an event well–tailored for contemporary needs.

The outline programme for next year’s BTR from Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th June 2020 was unveiled at a launching in Royal Ulster YC at the weekend, and Chairman Gavin Watson announced that RUYC, Quay Marinas who operate the town’s large award-winning marina complex, and the local authority, Ards & North Down Borough Council, will be teaming together to provide the successful formula with some additions which will add to a very complete package for today’s busy sailors.

With a launching attendance which included noted cruiser-racer skipper Jay Colville who is also Vice Chair of Sport NI, RUYC Flag Officers Nigel Hamilton (Vice Commodore) and Rear Commodore Maurice Butler provided further insight into a programme for the needs of today, a 9-race formula which will see the sailing and shoreside communities combine resources to maximise sport afloat and sociability ashore.

Published in Belfast Lough
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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.”

Published in Belfast Lough
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#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.

Bangor RNLI were quickly called to the scene for what was described as “a textbook tow-in” on the part of the volunteer lifeboat crew helmed by John Bell.

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.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

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.

Bangor town Regatta2Above and below Signal 8

Bangor town Regatta2

Bangor town Regatta2El Gran Senor

Bangor town Regatta2

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.

Bangor town Regatta2The start of the RC35 class at Bangor town Regatta

Bangor town Regatta2

Bangor town Regatta2Above and below: Pat Kelly's Storm

Bangor town Regatta2

Bangor town Regatta2Rockabill V

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.

Bangor town Regatta2Rory Fekkes' FN'GR8

Bangor town Regatta2

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.

Bangor town Regatta2

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 

Bangor town Regatta2Bangor town Regatta2Bangor town Regatta2Bangor town Regatta2

Bangor town Regatta2

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.

Bangor town Regatta2Bangor town Regatta2Bangor town Regatta2Bangor town Regatta2Bangor town Regatta2Bangor town Regatta2

 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.

Bangor town Regatta2Jay Colville, Forty Licks, 3rd IRC 1

Bangor town Regatta2Jamie McWilliam, Signal 8, 2nd IRC 1Bangor town Regatta2Jonathan Anderson, ElGran Senior, winner IRC 1

Bangor town Regatta2John Stamp & crewman, 3rd IRC 2Bangor town Regatta2Rory Fekkes collecting for Pat Kelly, Storm, 2nd IRC 2Bangor town Regatta2Debbie Aitken & crewman, Animal, winner IRC 2 and RC35 Class

Bangor town Regatta2Steve Atkinson, Bad, 3rd IRC 3Bangor town Regatta2Peter Doig, Jack, 2nd IRC 3Bangor town Regatta2Rory Fekkes, FN'GR8, winner IRC 3

Bangor town Regatta2David Milne, Manzanita, 3rd IRC 4

Bangor town Regatta2Alan Morrison, Starflash, 2nd IRC 4

Bangor town Regatta2Kat Lindsay, Jonathan Star, winner IRC 4

Bangor town Regatta2Patrick Stocker, Pure 6, 3rd NHC 5

Bangor town Regatta2Chris Johnston, Impulz, 2nd NHC 5Bangor town Regatta2Alice Manderson, Miss Behavin, winner NHC 5

Bangor town Regatta2Chris Stewart, Evita, 3rd NHC Restricted 8

Bangor town Regatta2Roger Clegg, Ocean Tramp, 2nd NHC Restricted 8Bangor town Regatta2Holly Fair, Cariad, winner NHC Restricted 8

Bangor town Regatta2Jimmy McKee, Nigel, 3rd WaverleyBangor town Regatta2Mike Stephens, Waverley, 2nd Waverley

Bangor town Regatta2Martin & Victoria Dews, Merrilies, winner WaverleyBangor town Regatta2Robin Gray PROBangor town Regatta2Tom Rusbridge RO RS Nationals course

Published in Belfast Lough
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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.”

Published in Belfast Lough
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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.

The event is being hosted by the town’s two yacht clubs – Ballyholme Yacht Club and Royal Ulster Yacht Club.

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'. 

Classes:

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

RS Elite

Waverley

Multihull Dinghies

International Laser

RS400 & RS200 Irish National Championships:

RS400

RS200

Published in Belfast Lough
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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.

Published in Belfast Lough

The Cruising Association of Ireland held its summer cruise to Belfast Lough in early July 2017.

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.

John Leahy

Published in Cruising
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