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Ben Graf & Alexander Farrell from Lough Ree Crowned 420 Champions at RYA NI Youth Event

23rd September 2020
Ben Graf (53053) Lough Ree and Jack McDowell (54847) Malahide YC Ben Graf (53053) Lough Ree and Jack McDowell (54847) Malahide YC Photo: Simon McIlwaine

Much to the satisfaction of RYA Northern Ireland and Ballyholme Yacht Club, splitting the 89 strong Youth Sailing Championship fleet over two days to mitigate risk in accordance with COVID – 19 guidelines, allowed the event to run smoothly with the only hiccup being the fickle conditions on the Sunday but Race Officer Robin Gray and his team managed to do enough to get a result.

As Afloat reported earlier, competitors travelled from all over the North and from as far away as Lough Ree and Malahide, with 420s and the ILCA 6 (the renamed Laser Radials) racing on Saturday and ILCA 4 (Laser 4.7s) Toppers and Topper 4.2s on the Sunday.

Saturday brought perfect conditions with 10 -12 knots of wind and the full five-race schedule was completed.

COVID restrictions for Dublin, unfortunately, meant some sailors were unable to race in the 420 class but there were three pairings on the water to fight it out for what was also the class Northern Championships. Ben Graf and Alexander Farrell from Lough Ree demonstrated great talent and slick crew work to win three of the five races and be crowned this year’s 420 Northern Champions.

ILCA racing at the RYA NI champs Photo: Simon McIlwaineILCA racing at the RYA NI champs Photo: Simon McIlwaine

In the 22 strong ILCA 6 fleet, winner was Tom Coulter from Coleraine YC and East Antrim BC, counting two firsts and two thirds, finishing on 8 points, three ahead of

Erin McIlwaine of Newcastle YC and Royal St.George whose 15th in the third race put paid to her chances despite scoring two firsts and a second. But she won the tie split with Joseph Karauzum of County Antrim YC whose win in Race 5 secured him the third place tied with McIlwaine and the title of First Youth in the event.
Sunday brought a whole new set of conditions to Ballyholme and Race Office Robin Gray had to deal with a constantly shifting light wind. Despite the Committee Boat on the water for seven hours and the fleet for nearly six, only two races could be run before the 1600hrs deadline. It was local girl Hannah Dadley-Young top of the 15 strong ILCA 4 fleet with two firsts. Hannah was first girl and fifth overall at the Topper British Nationals last August. Eva Briggs from East Down and Royal North was runner up.

Ballyholme’s Hugo Boyd was top of the 17 starters in the Topper 4.2 Class with Freddie Doig of the Larne club, East Antrim, runner up.

The Topper fleet at the RYANI Youth Championships Photo: Simon McIlwaineThe Topper fleet at the RYANI Youth Championships Photo: Simon McIlwaine

The Toppers turned out the biggest fleet with 32 starters. Another East Antrim competitor, Zoe Whitford, and Daniel Palmer from Ballyholme were tied first on points but with a last race win, it was Whitford who emerged first in the Topper Class and also took home the prize of first Junior and First Junior Girl.

As well as championship prizes there are Schools and Clubs prizes. Ballyholme’s Junior sailors were crowned winners of the Club Trophy while Larne Grammar secured the title of Schools Cup Champions for 2020.

Full results: 19th September and 20th September

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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About the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Northern Ireland 

  • The RYA is the national body for dinghy, yacht and motor cruising, all forms of sail racing, RIBs and sports boats, windsurfing and personal watercraft and a leading representative for inland waterways cruising.
  • The RYA is recognised by Government, the media and opinion formers as the representative body and voice for the activities that it represents. It continually fights for the rights and freedoms of its 112,000 personal members.
  • The RYA has more than 1,500 affiliated clubs and classes, which represent some 350,000 boaters throughout the UK. It is estimated that 4 million people in the UK take part in boating activity annually.
  • The RYA also sets and maintains recognised standards for training for both leisure and commercial boating through a network of more than 2,400 RYA Recognised Training Centres across 58 countries. More than 250,000 people per year complete RYA training courses.
  • The RYA is responsible for one of the UK’s most successful Olympic medal-winning sports. Our coaching and development schemes actively support 800 of our country’s top sailors, from talented juniors to Olympic and World champions.
  • The RYA is committed to promoting all forms of boating and making them accessible to everyone. For more information please visit
  • The Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland (RYA NI) acts for the RYA in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Chairman of RYA NI is invited to join the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) Policy Review Committee.
  • You can find the RYA Northern Ireland at Sketrick House, GE8, Jubilee Road, Newtownards, BT23 4YH.
  • RYA NI is a company limited by guarantee – Registration number NI 51945
  • Contact RYA NI: Tel: 02891 827154 email: [email protected]



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