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Displaying items by tag: RYA Northern Ireland

More than 30 youth laser sailors from 10 clubs across Northern Ireland travelled to Cushendall Sailing and Boating Club for the RYA Northern Ireland Performance selection weekend.

The event, which took place on 10 and 11 October, saw the young sailors taking part in two days of coaching and selections.

Strict Covid-19 arrangements were in place and sessions took place outdoors in three groups with Laser Head Coach Barry McCartin, Performance Development Officer James Farrell and Performance Manager Andrew Baker.

Commenting on the action-packed weekend, Andrew Baker said: "Saturday was all about boat handling and shaking off any rustiness form a season with less sailing than normal. Gusts of 20 knots were a rude awakening for some. By the end of the day the groups were showing real promise and becoming more competitive within themselves.

"Sunday put into practice the previous day of training with a drill focusing on boat speed and changing gears in a laser. These sessions were aided by the ever-changing weather which had the sailors working the boats through light drifting conditions right up to flat out hiking."

He added: "The weekend concluded with three large races bringing all the groups together giving additional pressure of performing among a larger number of boats, which is what the sailors can expect at future events."

Reflecting on the success of the event, Baker said: "It was a great weekend and I am very pleased given the current Covid-19 climate that we were able to run the Performance selection weekend.

"I am impressed by the enthusiasm shown by all the participants. This was my first selection weekend as Performance Manager and I am pleased to see the talent Northern Ireland has to offer and excited to grow and support our future sailors.

"I would like to thank everyone for understanding the circumstances and helping us run the weekend safely and in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines.''

The successful young athletes who have been selected by RYA Northern Ireland will now be invited to be part of the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Performance Programme and undergo six weekends on-water coaching, as well as other campaign support throughout the Winter period.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

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

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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More than 90 of Northern Ireland’s Youth and Junior sailors have taken part in the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships, which were hosted by Ballyholme Yacht Club.

Racing took part of over two days on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September and the fleets were split to reduce overall numbers on site each day to mitigate risk in accordance with COVID – 19 guidelines.

The ILCA 6 and 420s took to the water on Saturday for five races in perfect conditions of 15 knots and sunshine.

Ellen Barbour from County Antrim Yacht Club showed good form early on to lead the way in race one, only to fall foul of being over at the start. This gave Coleraine Yacht Club’s Tom Coulter the win followed by Colin Crichton of Quoile Yacht Club in 2nd.

Race two saw Erin Mcllwaine from Newcastle Yacht Club was fast out of the blocks and took the win for race two with Crichton again runner up and Coulter in 3rd.
By race three Coulter started to show some dominance with his second win of the event followed by Ballyholme’s Oliver Haig.

The girls led the way in the fourth race with Mcllwaine doing her best to close the gap to Coulter with another win and Barbour a close 2nd to prove her performance in race one was not a one-off.



1st Overall

Tom Coulter

1st Overall

Hannah Dadley-Young

1st Boy

Tom Coulter

1st Boy

Conor McVeigh

1st Girl

Erin Mcllwaine

1st Girl

Hannah Dadley-Young


Erin Mcllwaine


Eva Briggs


Joseph Karauzum


Conor McVeigh


420 – Northern Championship

1st Overall

Ben Graf & Alexander Farrell


Jack McDowell & Harry Thomson


Garrett Leech & Conor Paul




1st Overall

Zoe Whitford

1st Overall

Hugo Boyd

1st Boy

Dan Palmer

1st Boy

Hugo Boyd

2nd Boy

Max Killiner

1st Girl

Jessica Dadley-Young

3rd Boy

Charlie Patterson


Freddie Doig

1st Girl

Zoe Whitford


Mateo Moore 

2nd Girl

Autumn Halliday

3rd Girl

Sophia Cahill


RYANI Youth Championships Overall

1st Junior 

Zoe Whitford

1st Youth

Tom Coulter

1st Lady 

Erin Mcllwaine 

Club Trophy

Ballyholme Yacht Club

School’s Cup

Larne Grammar 

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

 The Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland Youth Championships on 19/20 September will feel the ongoing effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in that a restricted Youth Sailing Championships will be run on the 19th and 20th September at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough.

This year each class will race on one day only, to enable the event to be run in a Covid-secure manner, so as it will look different to the usual. RYANI says it is important to read the Notice of Race carefully as this will give more details about how the Championships will be run.

On the Saturday, the racing will be for ILCA 6 , 420 and 29ers and on the Sunday it will be the turn of the Toppers (all rigs) and ILCA 4. There will not be a regatta fleet.

To be considered for the RYANI Junior or Youth Performance Programmes, sailors must complete the online application form before 30th September 2020 which can be found on the RYANI website under the Performance tab.

The 20/21 Youth Performance Programme training and selection will take place on the weekends of 3rd and 4th October (Toppers) and on 10th and 11th October for Lasers. The venue will be Cushendall Sailing and Boating Club on the Antrim Coast. You can book for both the Topper and Laser weekends through RYA NI Facebook page.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Accomplished sailor Andrew Baker has been appointed as the new RYA Northern Ireland Performance Manager, taking up the post this week.

Recruitment for the role started in February but was delayed until lockdown measures eased and continued funding form Sport Northern Ireland was confirmed.

Baker takes over from Ballyholme-based 49er sailor Matt McGovern who previously held the role.

Popularly known as 'Hammy' Andrew started competitive sailing at the age of nine, racing Toppers in his native Northern Ireland. By the age of 13, he was selected to be part of the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Squad in Toppers, and two years later in the Laser Youth Squad. After winning the Northern Ireland Youth National Championship, he represented Ireland in the Laser Europeans and World Championship. In 2014, Andrew was selected as part of the British Keelboat Academy and won the IRC National Championship.

His big break came when he got accepted into the Artemis Offshore Academy to be part of the 2015 squad. After training in Lorient, he took part in his first Solitaire – Bompard Le Figaro, finishing the race in 32nd place. Since then he has worked as a professional sailor but has also returned to work and assist as a Senior Instructor at his home club of Quoile YC in Strangford Lough.

Welcoming Andrew to the RYA Northern Ireland team, Chief Operating Officer Richard Honeyford said: "At RYA Northern Ireland, we are delighted to welcome Andrew on board as the new Performance Manager at a critical time for performance sport and our local athletes. With the Olympics delayed until 2021, Andrew will be looking to ensure our High-Performance athletes get the best possible support as well as looking to ensure the pathway and club development plans are prioritised."

Commenting on his new post, Andrew said: "Since our first family holidays on my parents' boat right up to sailing competitively at a professional level, I have always felt very fortunate to be involved in this sport and I realise it would not be possible if not for the work of our clubs, volunteers and the work carried out by the RYANI. Having gone from club racing and through the squad systems myself I know how important this stage of coaching and nurturing is to a future athlete. I hope to carry on the great work carried out by my predecessors and give something back to the sport I love through growing the depth of sailing here in Northern Ireland. To me sailing is a sport for life and I hope it can be for others too."

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

In the run-up to the return of Topper and Laser dinghy events, RYA Northern Ireland has arranged a series of Open Pathway training events during this month.

The RYANI Open Pathway Training (OPT) is aimed primarily at those sailors who wish to develop their racing skills with a Squad coach in order to help them gain a good understanding of racing within the class and to go on to compete at open class events and the RYANI Youth Championships, and looking to join the RYANI Performance Pathway.

For Toppers the sessions start at Ballyholme on this coming Tuesday 11th August, the others are scheduled for East Antrim on 13th August and Strangford Lough YC on 19th August. For Lasers, the dates are Ballyholme -12 August; Carrickfergus on 14th and Strangford Lough on 18th.

All sessions are strictly limited to 12 Toppers and 10 Lasers

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Women on Water became Women online for a festival which should have been held at Carrickfergus Sailing Club but had to be redesigned due to COVID 19.

The festival brought together like-minded women who have been involved in sailing from a young age or as part of the recent Women on Water programmes. The low-cost project runs every year across Northern Ireland and is open to women of all abilities. It lasts four weeks and teaches the basics of sailing and there are lots of social opportunities.

RYA Northern Ireland’s Active Clubs co-ordinator, Lisa McCaffrey explained: “Women on Water is a fantastic programme but our plans had to change. We were still able to hold a very enjoyable online festival and it was a lovely opportunity for everyone to catch up and share insights and information, as well as having a good chat in what has been difficult times for many.”

During the online festival, RYA Northern Ireland’s Development Officer, Mary Martin, delivered an interactive workshop. This included a discussion on the Women on Water programme and how it could be developed. Valuable information was provided on RYA qualifications, including instructor and official qualifications. The participants were able to find out about the benefits of the qualifications, such as delivering sessions at their local club which would allow more people to learn to sail, developing their own boating knowledge and also the potential career opportunities.

The Women on Water Leadership Group then hosted a quiz, with Jennifer Bryce, a graduate from the very first Women on Water programme in 2016, winning a free ticket to next year’s festival which will take place at Carrickfergus Sailing Club.

Speaking after the festival, Jennifer commented: “The talk was very informative and has encouraged me to work towards the Dinghy Instructor qualification. It would be wonderful to be able to teach other women, as I started with the Women on Water course a couple of years ago and have been slightly obsessed with sailing ever since! Just before lockdown, I bought a GP14, with the exciting plans to compete in the GP14 Worlds event in the summer but that has been postponed. My crew, Lara Sunday, also completed the Women on Water course last summer and we got to know each other at the first festival. I can’t wait to take my boat out on the water as I haven’t even sailed it yet. This time last year I was out sailing four or five times a week, I am getting serious withdrawal symptoms!”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Many sailors are slowly returning to the water as the lockdown eases, but they have kept in touch by taking part in RYA Northern Ireland’s virtual forums, learning more about support, opportunities for funding and other important updates.

The club development forums were created by the governing body to connect with affiliated clubs and centres. So far over 20 Northern Ireland clubs and centres have been attending virtually.

RYA Northern Ireland’s Chief Operating Officer Richard Honeyford commented: “Lockdown has led to some very constructive and important discussions within the boating community through the RYA Northern Ireland forums. We’ve covered a wide range of different topics, from NI government advice to funding opportunities and Q&A sessions on the main issues facing our sport. During such a rapidly changing environment, we recognised the need to keep communications open to help address challenges and share valuable learning”.

He went on “We are continuing to provide guidance to clubs and centres on the latest government advice, which allows our members to make informed decisions about how their club is operating as government restrictions ease.”

The most recent forum on Tuesday 9 June provided clubs with discussions on how to safely return to recreational boating activity.

Ballyholme Yacht Club provided a valuable insight into their own journey to ‘Returning to Boating’ and discussed their Covid-19 team approach, which was set up under RYA guidance. Clubs taking part in the forum were given the opportunity to discuss Ballyholme’s journey and explain their own plans.

Lisa McCaffrey, RYA Northern Ireland’s Active Clubs Co-ordinator, commented: “I really miss visiting the clubs during the sailing season so getting the opportunity to connect has been super. The forums give us a chance to explain the work that we are doing including providing guidance to our clubs and centres within the various activities that we cover.”

Further forums are planned, and these will focus on returning to racing, returning to training and further volunteer development, sailability and cruising workshops.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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You have probably heard of the Women on Water festival but as this will not happen this year, RYA Northern Ireland is running an alternative - a Women off Water event.

In March, RYA Northern Ireland celebrated when they clinched a prestigious award at the Active Fit and Sporty Awards. With many worthy nominees in the running, RYA Northern Ireland was crowned the winner of the National Governing Body Champion award for its Women on Water (WOW) initiative.

So not to be deterred RYANI will substitute the Women off Water festival. This event is for anyone in Northern Ireland who has completed a Women on Water programme, is interested in boating in NI and in learning more about gaining relevant skills and qualifications.

This online festival on Saturday 6th June will include:

  • A workshop on how to gain more qualifications/skills within the RYA and what courses are on offer
  • Followed by an online quiz hosted by the fantastic WOW leader group

The contact is Lisa McCaffrey at RYA NI

Spaces are limited so book early to avoid disappointment here

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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The latest statement from the Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland, the governing body for all water activities in Northern Ireland says “In the absence of any further guidance from Government Departments, our current interpretation is that this does permit all forms of boating activity (sailing, windsurfing, powerboating etc) but only when:

  • undertaken individually or by members of the same household
  • there is no sharing of hard surfaces (including all types of boat)
  • public health guidance is followed at all times
  • strict social distancing can be undertaken

The current restriction at the time of writing is that the number of people who may gather outdoors from separate households is six with strict social distancing.

As of today, Stormont Ministers have decided there will not be any further changes yet to lockdown measures in Northern Ireland.

In the light of the lack of clarification on particular matters such as launching boats parked on Club premises, (perhaps the Executive has not yet considered the nitty-gritty of sailing) club members are in something of a dilemma about certain aspects of returning to the water, though marinas around the North seem to have made their own assessment of the situation and opened, albeit with strict protocols.

One of these in a quandary is Peter Mullan of Quoile Yacht Club on Strangford Lough. He says, “ I’m at Quoile and wondering at the lack of advice”.

Peter goes on to say “I have heard [May 20] that we can’t use the cranes to launch big boats because we can’t social distance. This is nonsense and means the people giving the advice are ill-informed. This activity involves six or less people meeting in the open air and social distancing” He continues “ Our outdoor toilets, separate from the clubhouse, are closed but yet the toilets at Ardglass golf club were open. It takes weeks to get all our boats in the water so this needs to be sorted ASAP”.

It seems that, like the marinas, each establishment will, of course, adhere to the Pathway to Recovery rules but with local interpretations within those guidelines, depending on the club locality, types of boats sailed and facilities.

For instance, Ballyholme Yacht Club has laid out criteria for its members, which they consider will be in operation when they open. They say in their ‘Return to Water’ planning “Step one of the NI Executive's plan will allow for a return to some on-water activity which we hope will include sailing.

This combined with the easing of restrictions allowing some activity with small groups of four to six people, whilst observing social distancing of two metres at all times, should allow us to open our slipways and dinghy parks and facilitate ‘social sailing’.

This will be an opportunity for members to get afloat albeit in small groups at any one time and mindful that having at least two boats on the water together potentially reduces risk.

The clubhouse will not be available at this stage and sailing will be for single-handed boats or double-handed boats crewed by members of the same household only. Safety cover will not be available at this stage, so sailors must be realistic about their abilities and importantly take into account the sea state and weather conditions to minimise risk”.

The BYC Executive Committee emphasises that these actions will only be implemented when it is safe to do so.

It may come to the point where common sense is the decider.

Update 25/5/20: Following contact from Quoile Yacht Club, Afloat wishes to clarify that Peter Mullan’s comments in relation to 'ill-informed advice' was directed at the Stormont COVID-19 guidelines and not Quoile Yacht Club. We are happy to clarify this point.

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