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Displaying items by tag: Bangor Bay

Last Saturday (10th July) saw the resurrection of the famous Pickie to Pier swim in Bangor Bay after its cancellation last year due to Covid. Pickie is the previous site of the original sea water swimming pool on the west side of the Bay, which was demolished in the late 1980s to be replaced by a heated indoor pool, and the Pier is the old North Pier, now named Eisenhower Pier in memory of June 1944 when General Eisenhower inspected American troops gathered in Belfast Lough.

The 2019 event was held after a 30-year absence.

First home and taking the Women’s title was Jessika Robson in just seven minutes, followed by Gary Robinson winning the men’s section for the second time in a row.

Jessica Robson centre, first Woman in the Pickie to Pier race with Gary Robinson, first Man and (left) Caroline McCoubrey Seaside Revival Co-ordinator and (right) Alan Whyte, Ballyholme YCJessica Robson centre, first Woman in the Pickie to Pier race with Gary Robinson, first Man and (left) Caroline McCoubrey Seaside Revival Co-ordinator and (right) Alan Whyte, Ballyholme YC

As told in Afloat.ie in January last year, the swim to the pier pre-dates the Bangor swimming club – the 18th annual swim was organised by Donegall Amateur Swimming Club based in Belfast IN 1910. But the Men’s trophy went missing and has never been found.

The Swim organisers from the Seaside Revival Vintage Festival said;  “We're still grinning from ear to ear after yesterday's epic Pickie to Pier Swim. So many smiles, and whoops and cheers of encouragement for the 200 intrepid swimmers who took part in our 2021 Pickie to Pier Swim. The sun shone, the water was calm and clear, and the swimmers and spectators were all very happy people”.

RNLI Bangor after duty at the Pickie to Pier swimRNLI Bangor after duty at the Pickie to Pier swim.jpg

The swimmers swam the 800m course from Skippingstone Beach beside Pickie, to the RNLI slipway at Eisenhower Pier and were sent off and greeted at the finish by huge crowds of spectators.

Paddle board safety volunteers at the Pickie to Pier swimPaddle board safety volunteers at the Pickie to Pier swim

Seaside Revival thanked Alan Whyte and Ballyholme Yacht Club, Marina Manager Kevin Baird and all the volunteers who secured the swimmers on boats, kayaks and paddle boards; the RNLI, and Spar Ballyholme, Spar Gransha Road and Spar Abbeyhill for their support.

Published in Sea Swim

Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team didn't have far to travel to answer a report today (21st June) of a vessel aground on the rocks at Brompton on the opposite side of Bangor Bay from the Belfast Lough station.

Winds were strong from the North with rough seas and breaking waves.

The team managed to contact the owner, who arrived a short time later.

All belongings, engine and fuel were removed from the vessel by the owner, and the hope was that it could be refloated at the next high tide.

Published in Coastguard
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Today you couldn’t swim across Bangor Bay on Belfast Lough without skirting the Marina but from 1910 till the 80s the ‘Pickie to Pier’ annual sea swim saw many participants taking part in the 650-metre race from Skippingstone Beach, beside what is now Pickie Fun Park, to the then North Pier, now named the Eisenhower Pier, and back.

Now, in its Seaside Revival programme, the Open House Festival which runs in August every year in Bangor, the Pickie to Pier race is being held again, (in 2020 it is on July 4th) but sadly, the men’s prize, the Lyttle Trophy is missing! The ladies are lucky, however, as their prize is still intact. It is named the Connor Shield after a well-known old Bangor family.

So, the hunt is on for that trophy. Local businessman David McCullough won the race in the late 1960s when he was around 12 years old and remembers the trophy had three handles.

Picke to Pier swim winners 2019 Julie MCabe and Gary RobinsonjpgPickie to Pier swim winners 2019 Julie McCabe and Gary Robinson

The swim to the pier pre-dates the Bangor swimming club – the 18th annual swim was organised by Donegall Amateur Swimming Club based in Belfast. By the time Bangor ASC was formed, there were inter-club races to the pier featuring Wellington, New Alliance and Northern swimming clubs. BASC swam the route weekly, and the Pickie to Pier race carried on through two world wars but met its demise in the late 1980s when a new heated indoor pool was favoured to the freezing cold, jellyfish-laden waters of Bangor Bay.

According to one of the local librarians who has done some research, it is probable that 1918 was the 18th year of the race but no evidence that it started in 1910 could be found in the local press. The race did continue through WWII but there is a gap in the library reels from 1916 – 25 so those years cannot be checked. Generally, the race was run for individuals in a handicap system according to how good a swimmer they were – the faster you were, the longer you had to wait before starting off. There was also a team event for the Gamble Memorial Trophy.

Pickie to Pier poster re missing trophyPickie to Pier poster appeal for the missing trophy

Before Pickie Pool was built in 1931, gentlemen swam in that area and the ladies swam just below the large mansion called Seacourt in what was called ‘Ladies Bathing Place”.

Many people who did the race remember how cold it was, even in August; the horrors of being touched by the seaweed and stinging jellyfish as well as the distance, all presented a huge challenge. One of the competitors remembers the coal boat leaving harbour during the race, creating chaos. But what amounts to a questionable memory is that of a competitor who did the swim with a bottle of Olde English (an American malt liquor) in one hand and a Rod Stewart album in the other!

So if you can help please contact Caroline McCoubrey [email protected]

Published in Belfast Lough
Tagged under

RORC Fastnet Race

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge.

For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between.

The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish for 2021 is in Cherbourg via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland.

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Cherbourg.

Fastnet Race - FAQs

The 49th edition of the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, UK on Sunday 8th August 2021.

The next two editions of the race in 2021 and 2023 will finish in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin at the head of the Normandy peninsula, France

Over 300. A record fleet is once again anticipated for the world's largest offshore yacht race.

The international fleet attracts both enthusiastic amateur, the seasoned offshore racer, as well as out-and-out professionals from all corners of the world.

Boats of all shapes, sizes and age take part in this historic race, from 9m-34m (30-110ft) – and everything in between.

The Fastnet Race multihull course record is: 1 day 4 hours 2 minutes and 26 seconds (2019, Ultim Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, Franck Cammas / Charles Caudrelier)

The Fastnet Race monohull course record is: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing).

David and Peter Askew's American VO70 Wizard won the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race, claiming the Fastnet Challenge Cup for 1st in IRC Overall.

Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001.

The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result.

The winner of the first Fastnet Race was the former pilot cutter Jolie Brise, a boat that is still sailing today.

Cork sailor Henry P F Donegan (1870-1940), who gave his total support for the Fastnet Race from its inception in 1925 and competed in the inaugural race in his 43ft cutter Gull from Cork.

Ireland has won the Fastnet Race twice. In 1987 the Dubois 40 Irish Independent won the Fastnet Race overall for the first time and then in 2007 – all of twenty years after Irish Independent’s win – Ireland secured the overall win again this time thanks to Ger O’Rourke’s Cookson 50 Chieftain from the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland in Kilrush.

©Afloat 2020

Fastnet Race 2021 Date

The 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race will start on Sunday 8th August 2021.

At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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