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Ballyholme Yacht Club will be the venue for the Irish Multihull Association’s Weekend of Speed in mid-May.

The club has extensive experience of hosting national and international sailing events on the virtually tide and hazard free waters of Belfast Lough and it was here in 2014 that the F18 Worlds came to town. Winners then were Gunnar Larsen and Ferdinand van West from the Netherlands. The event also attracted America’s Cup sailor Glenn Ashby ( 15/6/14).

So, over the weekend of 23rd and 24th May, the Multihulls will return in numbers, this time hopefully joined by the 49er and 29er fleets, an innovation introduced in 2018. The catamaran fleet race as an Open fleet with Dart 18, Dart16, Hurricane 5.9 SX and a highly competitive F18 fleet.

F18 Worlds Friday 11 07 2014 3825

Due to the huge interest and success the event is being developed into an annual meet in association with one of the I.M.A. Regional or National calendar events, this year the Northern Championships.

The organisers welcome any high-performance skiffs with a Portsmouth Number no lower than 900, as well as RS400s, Fireballs and 505s. This could be the event of the year, a chance to see young potential Olympic talent along with Olympians and Olympic contenders on show.

PRO will be International Race Officer, local man, Robin Gray so competitors can be assured of full and fair racing.

A full social programme is planned, and visitors will find smart refurbished and extended changing facilities which include a spacious changing area for disabled people.
There is ample car parking and with the dinghy park extension, plenty of boat space. Camping on site is also available.

Further enquiries to Ballyholme Y.C. +44 (0) 28 9127 1467 or email [email protected], +44 (0)7878 643426.

Published in Belfast Lough

Ballyholme Yacht Club was one of the first to organise winter sailing on Belfast Lough way back in the seventies. It’s called the Icebreaker and in the past, it has indeed at times involved breaking ice on boat cover.

The series is supported by Charles Hurst Jaguar and Part 2 starts on Sunday, February 2nd. But to revive the enthusiasm last Saturday the club held the first of a Pre-Icebreaker Winter Sprint Races for Toppers, Lasers, Large and Small dinghies and Catamarans in aid of the RNLI.

For the 29 strong fleet, the proposed format was six one lap windward-leeward races for the three fleets in this instance, Toppers and Laser 4.7s in the Low PY, large PY handicap and the Laser Radials and Standards.

Gusts over 20 knots played havoc with the fleets in the first two races, with some shifts downwind taking their toll. Only a couple of boats didn’t succumb to a capsize.

David Nelson won the Laser Standards. He showed his speed in the heavier airs with clear starts and it was a generally a competition between himself and Dan McGaughey in the Radial to get to the top mark first. Chris Boyd caught up on the down winds although most of the fleet were well behind the first two. After a late start and a DNF in Race 1 and another late start in the second, Mark Mackey managed to split Nelson and McGaughey in the third and then, after a clean start in the final, was first to the windward mark with a gap big enough to contend with the disappearance of the wind to allow him to finish in front of McGaughey who was the Laser Radial winner. Thereafter racing was cancelled as the wind had shut off and the Rescue boats crews were feeling the cold. The Toppers showed great skill in surviving all four races, managing to get the last race in before the wind disappeared. Some struggled with the shifting winds and one gust took out nearly the whole fleet near the windward mark in the third race. The winner was Conor Allen. And top of the 4.7 fleet was Lucas Nixon.

Only two Large PY turned out and they survived two races before they sensibly came ashore due to the cold strong winds.

The traditional ‘Mug of the Day’ went to Keith Storey for his three capsizes and wrapping his main sheet around one of the leeward gate marks.

A worthwhile exercise to encourage the fleet out again for the 10-week Icebreaker open event starting on in just a week’s time on 2nd February.

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Olympian Matt McGovern returned for the final race of part one of the Icebreaker Series on Belfast Lough and showed enough class and speed in the very light winds to show the rest of the Laser fleet the way home. Nearly 40 Lasers fought hard to get away at a compressed start line made worse by a right-hand bias. A black flag on the second attempted start kept them back enough but the wind dropped almost immediately to less than 5 knots.

Series leader Chris Boyd showed his light wind prowess to get a third place and the overall win. Conor Simms tried to make it back through the fleet but finished second overall with Johnathan Henry third. Cavan Fyans had an even better race with a third-place which propelled him to Silver fleet winner in his first series since coming back after children and a PhD. Alex Ward also showed unknown light wind skills to take the Bronze fleet overall prize.

Ollie Haig has a great start in the Laser Radials but was unable to keep Joni Rock and Ellen Barbour behind him. Jess Winton had already won the Laser Radial fleet overall. Special note must go to Sara Sofia Odiso who was sailing her final race at Ballyholme - Sara comes from BYC’s twin club Andora Yacht Club in Italy and has been staying with BYC members for the last 16 weeks but goes home on Boxing Day. She will be missed by the other sailors.

The large dinghy fleet has a mix of boats with RS Aeros’ of varying shapes (including IRO Robin Gray) and sizes, Rs200s, RS400s, 505’s but they have been largely following the Laser 2000 of Dave Fletcher and Ryan Smyth throughout the series. Recent Jacques Fabre sailor Chunky/Michael Gunning with a rare showing from Jeremy Tomalin shot away in their RS400 however followed by Garth Flannigan and Brian Spence who had to retire with equipment failure.

Rob Milligan and Paul Blamphin came second overall in an RS200 with Sandra Halliwell third in an RSAero5.

Richard Swanston and Matt McMurtry were able to break away in their F18 for the win in front of series winners Adrian Allen and Barry Swanston. Special note must go to Pete and Dee McDowell who come second in their Viper before celebrating their Gold Wedding Anniversary today - how many multihull or other crews can claim such a prize.

The Topper fleet was won by Charlie O’Malley with Dan Sheriff and Charlotte Eadie following him home and in similar positions in the series. Ian Moore and his young son Aaron won the small PY class in their Mirror beating the O’Tiarnagh and Harrington teams in their RS Feva’s

The prize-giving was held after racing followed by the infamous Icebreaker dinner which has been held for over 25 years with the usual merriment and a quiz. Over 90 dinghies have raced in this years Icebreaker showing the strength of dinghy racing at Ballyholme. The Laser Radial fleet expect even greater numbers in Part 2 in preparation for the Youth European Championships in July 2020 - the second series starts again on the first Sunday in February. Many thanks were given to Charles Hurst Jaguar Landrover who have sponsored the event for the first time as well as all the volunteers that help to make the series run - on and off their water.

Just as well Ballyholme Yacht Club is at present extending the south dinghy park and widening one of the launching slips because next July an entry of over 300 is expected for the Laser Youth Radial European Championships which will run from 5th till 11th July writes Betty Armstrong.

But as the event is being left unlimited up to a point, there maybe even more. The limit is set at 400 as per EurILCA regs.

The club lies on a wide sandy bay on the south side of Belfast Lough and this RYA recognised Training Centre has an enviable reputation for running world, international, national and regional events, with a superb 40 sq km racing area in virtually hazard and tide free waters on the Lough close at hand.

Among the world championships hosted by the club were the Topper Worlds in 2016 and the F18 World Championships in 2014. Lasers have been sailed at BYC from the early 1970s and the club hosted one of the first European Championships in 1979 as well as the Laser Radial Europeans in 2004.

The club’s racing pedigree has provided sailors and officials to Olympic Regattas and many other international events. Some members are noted for their expertise in the role of Race officer and one, Bill O’Hara was the PRO for 2017 Volvo Round the World Race.

Interest in competing is already picking up and entries open on 20th November. Rear Commodore Mark Mackey reports that last year sailors at Tarbert in Scotland have expressed a solid interest.

Bangor has a wide variety of accommodation including the new Premier Inn in the centre of the town, but with such a huge influx of people expected, it is advisable to make plans early. Info on the event can be found here 

Published in Belfast Lough

Week two of the Ballyholme Yacht Club Icebreaker series on Belfast Lough in Northern Ireland was quite a bit calmer than the first week. One the water at least. The previous night's activities did have an impact on the turn out on the race course and of the performance of some of the competitors !!. BYC’s centenary ball was on the Saturday night and some of the revellers must still have been dancing ……. instead of racing.

Mark Mackey and Charlie Westhurst both managed to appear for the early morning “big boat” racing but then went back to bed and missed the afternoon racing. At least Charlie showed up for Sunday tea time pints!!! The other missing competitors were the Simm’s family - John and Conor are in Portugal doing a mammoth cycle to raise money for the fantastic Pancreatic Cancer Charity. If anyone has not already done so please make a donation on their just giving page.

Champion Laser sailor John Simms was texting to find out what the wind conditions were like and he was delighted to hear that it was very light winds…… not a bad week for him to miss!

The Toppers were away first and Daniel Sherriff managed to beat Charlie O'Malley after 2.5 laps of the course. Charlie still leads overall with 3 points between them.

Only one small dinghy this week so no one for Jenny Mullan and Jonny Potts to race against!

Lucas Nixon beat Ellen Barbour in the Laser 4.7s and no multihulls again this week……… has anyone seen them?

The large dinghies had six boats taking part and again David Fletcher and Ryan Wilson managed to keep Sandra Halliwell and Rob Milligan at bay to claim another first place. The start of this fleet was very interesting and Roger Armson and Ken Green both tried to start the upwind beat with their spinnakers up. I think, in reality, they were both very late for the start!!!……. but it did look like an early bid for Mug of the day.

The Laser Radials had close racing yet again. There were a few in this fleet have to remember to sign out…… and they were handed DSQ’s. A shame with the fleet racing so close. Mind you others were handed DNC’s for just not turning up…… 

Those who did sail within the rules had a great race and David Smyth claimed his first victory in the Radial rig. Jess Winton was 3rd with Russell Finlay squeezed back into 4th place and was lucky not to be overtaken by Sara Odisio from our twin club Andorra, Italy who was breathing down his neck. This win pushes David to the top of the fleet after 2 races with Jess in 2nd and Sara in 3rd. Hopefully, the wayward souls will return next week.

In the Laser Standards, there was a very familiar pattern……. Veteran Chris Boyd relished the tricky light conditions and pulled way ahead of the chasing pack. At one stage he was nearly a leg ahead of the rest of us!!!. James Moore was the only one who was anywhere close to him and sailed a great race to claim the second spot. Richard Ramsey was back in the saddle and made an impact on his return with a superb 3rd holding off the new light wind specialist, Charlie Taylor. John Simms was reportedly gutted when he heard Charlie had such a good result in these conditions……

Ballyholme Yacht Clubs Volunteer of the year, Keith Story had a fine race finishing 5th. Not bad considering the rest of his table from the previous night did not even make the start line!. Maybe Keith was dodging some of the Jokers that Alex Ward was providing at the table!!!……. clearly Robin Moran, Alex Ward and Charlie Westhurst were not!

Unfortunately, no Mug of the Day was presented, although apart from the two Spinnaker upwind starts there were not many misfortunes to report. One person did think the Race Officer might have put himself in contention by starting the boats out of sequence…… probably another gala night related error!

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Adverse weather with strong gusts in the lead up to this week’s racing threatened to spoil the day again for this week’s Charles Hurst Jaguar Land Rover sponsored Junior Icebreaker at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough. Saturday morning however brought warm weather and light winds and a fleet of 18 junior sailors in their Topper dinghies were able to take to the water for their first training session followed by racing. 

The course was set close to the clubhouse, which lead to tricky conditions in the light and shifty winds that were blowing from the shore. Race 1 saw Daniel Palmer lead from start to finish with Katie Brow in second and last year’s overall winner Faye McCartan rounding off the podium.

The second race saw a big shift on the left side of the course favour all those who had ventured in that direction seeing Daniel Palmer once again take line honours from Charlie O’Malley with Hannah Archer in third and Katie Brow staying in contention overall in fourth.

The third and final race was started in lighter winds but this time both sides of the course were even. Daniel Palmer made it a hat trick of first places but had to work this time to overtake Katie Brow who led at the first mark. Charlie O’Malley was third in this breakaway group and these three now lead the series overall.

Tight racing in the chasing pack was led by Romy Maguire ahead of Rex Claney in fifth place and Isobel Nixon in sixth.

Three of the entries were using the smaller 4.2 sail. This group is led by Hannah Bell with Charlotte Cairns second and Desi Gillespie in third. Even with the smaller sails this group were in the mix beating some of the sailors with full rigs.

The Junior Icebreaker takes place on Saturdays in October and November. Young sailors take to the water for training from a group of dedicated coaches. Training is followed by racing which is taken by these sailors as seriously as the adults in the main series on Sunday.

Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough has hosted a keelboat coaching event as part of the Magenta Project, with 34 female sailors taking to the water.

The Club is just one of five clubs across the UK to become successful in their bid for the event.

Supported by three coaches from the RYA Magenta Project, the group sailed from Bangor Marina in six yachts from the Belfast Lough Quarter Ton Class and Sigma Class.

"The Magenta Project is a collective of passionate sailors who are committed to creating equal access and opportunities for women in sailing"

The owners from Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC) had kindly lent their boats to participants for the event. The sailors' race rigged the craft under the supervision of the coaches – Abby Ehler, Storm Nuttal and Nikki Henderson – and took to the water for four hours of coaching in testing conditions with winds gusting up to 28.7kts.

The Magenta Project is a collective of passionate sailors who are committed to creating equal access and opportunities for women in sailing. It was started up in 2015 by members of the all-female ‘Team SCA’ who successfully competed in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race campaign.

Since then, the sailors have been working to create opportunities for women in performance sailing through on water training, learning and development opportunities.

They also support career/skills development schemes and events and STEM activities in the marine industry, building networks and relationships that connect individuals and organisations. This enables sailing knowledge, experience and opportunities to be shared, raising awareness of women in sailing and celebrating their successes and achievement.

The Magenta Project has now teamed up with the RYA to help promote more women racing keelboats at club level through tailored coaching sessions at clubs up and down the country, run by RYA qualified Magenta Project coaches, to get more female club members on the water racing, more often.

Aidan Pounder from Ballyholme Yacht Club commented: “This was the first time that the Magenta Project had come to Northern Ireland, and the ladies who participated found the experience truly remarkable, albeit a little exhausting. BYC hopes that this is not the last, but the start of many more Magenta Days to come in the future, helping to inspire more women into keelboat sailing.”

The final day has arrived for the Irish Laser Nationals at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough.

After six of 11 scheduled races were completed on Day 2 yesterday (Saturday 24 August), sailors awoke to sunny skies but little wind and forecasts for today range from 5 to 12 knots, gusting 16.

After nine fairly tough races (see results HERE), some will be grateful for a bit of respite although many have polished up their breezy sailing skills in the last three days and wanting one last blast if possible.

Yesterday morning saw the strongest winds of the event for Race 1 although not as unsteady as Day 1 or as gusting and less breakages to masts, etc as a result.

The second race was similar if a little more controllable with great blast reaches between the beats and runs. Legs in the standard fleet at least were starting to get painful after 24 beats in the championship so far.

The final race started in decent wind as well for the standards and 4.7s who both got away first time as soon as the Radials had cleared the inner loop.

The breeze finally relented on the first run a little and then on the second run shifted 50 degrees to the east without warning but by then both fleets were settled and relatively happy for the fetch and reach/run to the finish.

Racing hard in the Irish Laser Nationals at Ballyholme Yacht ClubRacing hard in the Irish Laser Nationals at Ballyholme Yacht Club

As they were heading for home the Radial fleet finally got away for their final race with the Race Management team having had to shift the course to accommodate the new wind direction.

In the Laser Standards, Ronan Wallace of Wexford Boat Club continued his great form with two bullets in Races 7 and 8 although he wasn’t always at the front of the fleet until the latter stages of both races.

In Race 9, Darragh O’Sullivan managed to get in front and spoil the perfect score. Fionn Conway was always close as well with Master Nick Walsh and Conor Simms both trying to get in on the action but getting passed by the finish line.

The 4.7 fleet saw England’s Luke Anstey make a move with two firsts and a second to move equal on points with Royal Cork’s Michael Crosbie with the National’s Conor Gorman just one point behind. Michael and Conor both have three firsts so it’s very much up to what happens today to see who will win.

First girl remains Ellen Barbour from County Antrim Yacht Club with consistent results in the breeze let down a little by the final race.

Ballyholme’s Dan McGaughey had a much better third day in the Radial fleet, winning the day with 2,1,7 but his poor Friday keeps him in fourth place. Michael O’Suilleabhan won the final race to squeeze in front by one point from Kai Wolgram from Llyn Brenig with Tom Higgins in third place. Clare Gorman is first lady.

Two more races are scheduled today but with an AP up, the fleet may be lucky to squeeze in one race before the wrap-up and prize-giving.

Published in Laser

The Irish Multihull Association introduced an innovative approach to their National Championships this year by inviting the 49er and 29er fleets to join them in a high-speed weekend of competitive sailing on Belfast Lough where we hosted the World F18 Championships in 2014 writes organiser Richard Swanston

Catamarans of various types arrived on Friday evening to give us a very competitive fleet of Dart 18’s Dart 18’s Hurricane 5.9 SX and a very competitive F18 fleet including four of the Irish team that attended the recent European Championships in Spain.

Multihull Belfast LoughMultihulls at speed on Belfast Lough Photo: Jarret Truscott

Race 1
The fleets were met with an uncharacteristic SSW shifty wind on Saturday 5 to 15 knots. A very packed committee boat end provided for some bumps/words of aggression not often heard. The racing was extremely tight with usual front-runners Adrian Allen and Barry Swanston well down the fleet. Last years winners Wyatt Orsmond and Patrick Billington winning race one but not before newcomers in a Nacra,

Mat and James McNichol rocketed around the course making some great decisions in the tricky winds. Wyatt’s experience finally ran Mat and James down. Peter and Dee Mc. Dowell pushed into a third place in their Viper.

29er skiff dinghy belfastThe 29er skiff dinghy on Belfast Lough Photo: Jarret Truscott

Race 2
Matt and James overturned the first race with a storming race win with Adrian and Barry in 2nd. Place.

Race 3
Wyatt and Patrick winning this race with Adrian and Barry in 2nd. Swannie and Mat Mc. Murty showing a bit of form with a 3rd. place.

Race 4
Adrian and Barry in their Cirrus R1 were starting to really take control with another race win, Wyatt down in 7th. Place and Mat in the Nacra in 2nd. Beginning to assert a regular top three placing.

Saturday night was hugely enjoyed by all. A bbq followed by a table quiz and an open mic music night provided for the necessary sore heads on Sunday morning.

Sunday dawned with a very brisk 15 to 25-knot breeze. Time for the speed machines to stretch their legs with very high speed downwind sprints and very close upwind racing

49er skiff reaching A 49er skiff Photo: Jarret Truscott

Race 1
Swannie and Matt in their Windrush Edge show real potential and despite many place changes took control on the 3 rd. lap only to blow a race win by finishing incorrectly. Mark roundings with 4 f18s at top speed made for great viewing.

"The IMA Festival of Speed event is to become an annual event. Next year looks like it may come to Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay"

Race 2 and 3
Adrian and Wyatt swapped race wins and second places albeit with Mat and Swannie, David Biddy Biddulf and new crew Emma roaring around the course to add yet another competitive boat to the mix with some great racing and no quarter being given.

FB IMG 1537613531427

Race 4
Was won again by Wyatt and Paddy with Adrian and Barry in 2nd. Biddy in 3rd. Swannie had to retire with a broken shackle on his mainsheet.

Controversy, however, was the deciding factor in the end, race one was started one minute early a protest was heard and it was decided to throw out the race, however, a last minute counter protest reinstated the race allowing Wyatt to claim the first race win and win the event overall by one point !!!

All in all a very successful weekend with a great interaction with the junior 29er fleet and top 49er sailors.

The IMA Festival of Speed event is to become an annual event. Next year looks like it may come to Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay.

Published in Belfast Lough
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Ballyholme Yacht Club is pleased to launch the Icebreaker Series 2018/19. Now in its fourth decade, this event attracts a range of sailors from all over Belfast Lough. Commencing on Sunday, September 30th and continuing each Sunday until 16th December. Part 1 will consist of 12 races. After a short break over Christmas and New Year, Part 2 commences on Sunday, 3rd February 2019. One race will be run on each day. 

 "There will be no charge for entering the Icebreaker Series"

Entry is open to dinghies and multihulls, who otherwise would have limited opportunity to race during the winter. Olympian and RYA High-Performance Manager Matt McGovern commented “Ballyholme Icebreaker Series is a real highlight in the winter sailing calendar. It offers great quality racing in large fleets every Sunday. Personally, I can’t wait to dust off the hiking pads and get out there myself in the Laser class this year.”

In a change from former years, there will be no charge for entering the Danske Bank sponsored Icebreaker Series 2018/19. Visiting boats will be accommodated at BYC for a small fee. This is in order to encourage a large entry. For those sailors with limited racing experience, BYC will be offering adult training on Saturday afternoons for members and visitors to help them build confidence for a competitive environment.

For more information including Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions, please see here

Published in Belfast Lough
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