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137 Dinghy Sailors Contest RYA NI Youth Sailing Championships at Carrickfergus

13th September 2021
All the prizewinners from the 2021 RYA NI Youth Sailing Championships at Carrickfergus
All the prizewinners from the 2021 RYA NI Youth Sailing Championships at Carrickfergus

A huge fleet of 121 dinghies took to the waters of Belfast Lough from Carrickfergus Sailing Club on the north shore on Saturday and Sunday (11th and 12th) for the Royal Yachting Association NI Youth Championships. The 137 youth sailors came from all over Ireland, racing in seven categories over two courses. The Championships was an Open event with RYANI special performance prizes.

The weather was kind, albeit perhaps not enough wind for some and competitors who had three races in light and variable conditions on Day 1 with four races for the ILCA 4 and ILCA 6 fleets. Wind shifts were plentiful, and some sailors were alert enough to see them coming. On Sunday, with the wind dropping, there was a delayed start and Race Officers Robin Gray and Sheela Lewis then managed to complete a single race for each class.

The massive dinghy fleet prepares to go afloat on Saturday morningThe massive dinghy fleet prepares to go afloat on Saturday morning

There were six regatta fleet races over the weekend with coaches Dave Nelson, Chris and Jessica Penney delivering training as part of the event. The fleet was a mix of Topper 4.2s and ILCA 4s but it was the Toppers from Lough Erne YC who dominated the score sheet with Charlie Valentine 1st, Emily Torrens 2nd and Ben McCaldin third.

In the seven-strong Optimist fleet at the end of the first day, Matthew Holden from Ballyholme YC on Belfast Lough and Freddie Doig from East Antrim BC on Larne Lough were tied on 5 points, but Doig's first and second on the Sunday gave him first overall by one point.

The largest turnout came in the Topper 5.3 group with 34 on the line. Here Bobby Driscoll of Royal North started with three bullets, stamping his domination right away. In second was Luke Simpson from the County Antrim YC, a few miles east of Carrickfergus, eight points behind on 11. Another first for Driscoll in Race 4 gave him a clean run which couldn't be beaten and Simpson had to be satisfied with second place.

The smaller Topper 4.2 fleet at 10 strong, provided closer racing with another CAYC sailor, Calum Pollard scoring two seconds and sixth to lead overnight narrowly from Hugo Boyd of Ballyholme. In the end Boyd tied with Pollard with the tie split in Boyd's favour.

Daniel Palmer of BYC, Male Youth championDaniel Palmer of BYC, Male Youth champion

Daniel Palmer from Ballyholme began emphatically, scoring three firsts in the 18 strong ILCA 4 (Laser 4.7) fleet. After the second day, Palmer had the title sewn up with another two bullets. Lucy Ives of Carlingford Lough YC who counted two seconds, a third and a fourth finished runner up.

Ellen Barbour of County Antrim YC and East Antrim BC,  Female Youth championEllen Barbour of County Antrim YC and East Antrim BC, Female Youth champion

Of the 23 competitors in the ILCA 6 (Laser Radial ) after four races, Tom Coulter of East Antrim came away with a winning score of 5 points. Ellen Barbour of County Antrim YC and East Antrim discarded a 20th but held onto the runner up slot with Hannah Dadley-Young from Ballyholme in third.

Katie Brow of Ballyholme YC, Female Junior ChampionKatie Brow of Ballyholme YC, Female Junior Champion

In the only two-handed fleet, the 29ers, most of the competitors came from Southern clubs and it was three of these who finished top three overall. And it was this fleet who prove to be too eager to cross the line at the start of the fourth race – so much so that ten of the 16 were Black Flagged. Timothy Norwood and Nathan van Steenberge of Royal Irish in Dun Laoghaire were able to discard the Black Flag score of 17 and finished comfortably ahead of Emily and Jessica Riordan of the neighbouring club, Royal St. George.

Lauren McDowell and Erin McIlwaine of Newcastle YC and Royal NorthLauren McDowell and Erin McIlwaine of Newcastle YC and Royal North in the 29er skiff

Larne Grammar were winners of the Schools TrophyLarne Grammar were winners of the Schools Trophy

RYA Northern Ireland's High Performance Manager, Andrew Baker, commented: "It was fantastic to be at Carrickfergus Sailing Club for the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships. The venue was excellent, and I would like to extend my thanks to everyone at the Club for their hard work and enthusiasm to ensure the weekend was such a success. It has been another challenging year for sport and I am delighted that we were able to run this event and I thank everyone for adhering to all COVID guidelines that were set in place". He added: "All of the sailors have done themselves proud this weekend and we are looking forward to seeing their progression as they continue to train throughout the year."

Tom Coulter of East Antrim BC, winner of the ILCA 6 prizeTom Coulter of East Antrim BC, winner of the ILCA 6 prize

The championship prizes were, of course, all awarded to Northern Ireland boats.

Royal Yachting Association NI Youth Championships Overall Awards

Female Junior Champion
Katie Brow - Ballyholme Yacht Club

Male Junior Champion
Bobby Driscoll – Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club

Female Youth Champion
Ellen Barbour – County Antrim Yacht Club

Male Youth Champion
Daniel Palmer – Ballyholme Yacht Club

Northern Ireland Schools Cup

Northern Ireland Club Trophy
Ballyholme Yacht Club

Junior Champion
Bobby Driscoll – Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club

Youth Champion
Daniel Palmer – Ballyholme Yacht Club

For full results here

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

Email The Author

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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