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Big Fleet Expected at the RYANI Youth Championships at Ballyholme on Belfast Lough

6th September 2022
Bobby Driscoll is Topper World Championships Silver medal winner and runner-up at the UK Nationals in Weymouth
Bobby Driscoll is Topper World Championships Silver medal winner and runner-up at the UK Nationals in Weymouth Credit: John Driscoll

Ballyholme Yacht Club near Bangor on Belfast Lough is gearing up for an influx of 120 boats taking part in the RYANI annual Youth Sailing Championships this weekend – Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September.

And by the look of the forecast, the competitors may have to deal patiently with light north easterlies on the first day and very different conditions on the Sunday, when heavy rain and moderate south easterlies are forecast. But that is several days away and may indeed change.

The event is open to sailors under the age of 19 in ILCA 6, ILCA 4, 420, 29er, Topper and RS Feva and Optimist. It turns out the Optimist Ulsters will not run alongside the Youth event.

The warning gun for the first of Saturday’s three races is 1155 and on Sunday 1055.

Among the names to the fore this season from County Antrim YC who are understood to have entered are, in ILCA 6 Daniel Corbett, and in Topper 5.3s Luke Simpson, 4th at the Topper Nationals in Weymouth. Calum Pollard, World Topper Champion at Lake Garda will be a force to be reckoned with. Also, from that club, Jenna Reid will compete in ILCA 6 and in ILCA 4 Holly McConnell.

Topper dinghy racing at BallyholmeTopper dinghy racing at Ballyholme

From the Larne-based East Antrim BC, there will be Zoe Whitford and Charlie Patterson in the 29er and in ILCA Joshua Kane and Matthew McClernon.

In the RS Feva fleet Rory Pollard with crew, Ben Simpson from CAYC will race against at least six from Ballyholme and Niamh Coman and crew Ellie Nolan from Royal North, with helm

One to be watched is the ex-Topper Silver medal winner at the Worlds and runner-up at the Nationals in Weymouth, competing in an ILCA 6 in this event, Bobby Driscoll from Royal North and the host club.

Toppers have been really successful this year and contesting this championship also will be Tom Driscoll in a 5.3 from the host club. It is thought that the Ballyholme member of the Irish ILCA 4 squad Daniel Palmer will make an appearance. And among the girls will be Isabel Nixon who was second Junior Girl at the Lough Erne YC Topper Traveller in July.

There are also prizes for the Top School and Top Club so no doubt Ballyholme YC and Larne Grammar School will be defending their titles. The question is who will fill the female Youth Champion slot with last year’s winner CAYC sailor, Ellen Barbour now too old to compete.

Race Officer is Aidan Pounder.

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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