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Newcastle RNLI has launched a festive 10K, 5K and one-mile fun run to help save lives at sea.

Appealing to the seasoned athlete as well as families and fun runners wanting to get some exercise while getting into the Christmas spirit, the event will take place on Sunday 11 December around the Castlewellan Lake on a mainly flat terrain.

The 10K and 5K events will be chip-timed with prizes for the winners and an iconic RNLI all-weather lifeboat medal for all participants.

The one-mile Christmas dash, meanwhile, is open to everyone and suitable for those bringing families and those with prams and/or pets.

While fun runners won’t be timed, they too will receive a Christmas medal for their efforts. There will also be prizes for the most festive costumes.

For those who can’t do the run on the day but would still like to take part, there will be a virtual option. Simply do the 10K in your own time, send Strava/Garmin or equivalent evidence of completion to RNLI community manager Nuala Muldoon at [email protected] and you will receive a medal in the post.

All participants, whether running on the day or putting in the steps at home, will receive a medal for their efforts | Credit: RNLI/NewcastleAll participants, whether running on the day or putting in the steps at home, will receive a medal for their efforts | Credit: RNLI/Newcastle

Speaking ahead of the event, Muldoon said: “This is a wonderful Christmas event with options to be competitive in either the 10K or 5K, to enjoy the fun run with family or friends, or do it in your own spare time virtually.

“We want people to really get into the Christmas spirit by dressing up, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying a well-deserved mince pie and some Christmas fun at the finish line.

“All proceeds raised from the Castlewellan event will go to Newcastle RNLI. Every time a RNLI crew launches, they are determined to save every one. But they can’t do that without the generosity of the public who support events such as these and raise vital funds.

“By taking on the Castlewellan 10K/5K or one mile fun run, participants are helping to keep our volunteers safe. Every penny they raise makes a difference. It helps the charity to recruit and train volunteers and could fund the kit they need to protect themselves. It helps ensure a lifeboat is ready when the call comes and it enables our safety advice to reach as many people as possible so they can stay safe by the water.”

In 2021, lifeboats at Northern Ireland’s 10 stations launched 297 times bringing 370 people to safety, seven of whom were lives saved.

During the lifeguard season, RNLI teams located on 11 beaches along the Causeway Coast and in Co Down responded to 330 incidents, coming to the aid of 384 people, one of whom was a life saved.

To register for the Castlewellan 10K/5K and one-mile festive fun run on Sunday 11 December, click HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Newcastle RNLI came to the aid of a lone sailor early this morning after his 20ft boat got into difficulty and ran aground at the entrance to Dundrum inner bay.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat shortly after 9.30 am following the report from Belfast Coastguard that a vessel with one person onboard had run aground.

The lifeboat, helmed by Thomas Davis and with three crew members onboard, was deployed and swiftly made its way to the scene in a southerly Force 4 wind. The lifeboat arrived on scene to a strong swell in the bar mouth.

The crew assessed the situation and found the sailor to be safe and well. They then made a decision to tow the boat off the sand and back to the nearest safe port which was the vessel’s moorings in Dundrum.

Speaking following the call out, Johnny Whyte, Newcastle RNLI Deputy Launching Authority said: ‘The sailor was found to be safe and well but he did the right thing raising the alarm for help when he knew he was difficulty.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portaferry RNLI in Northern Ireland was requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard to reports of a fishing boat aground at St John’s Point early on Friday morning (5 August).

The volunteer crew’s pagers sounded at 6.24am and they made their way to St John’s point at Ardglass, where they arrived just before 7am and were joined by Newcastle RNLI with their all-weather and inshore lifeboats.

They found the 16m fishing boat, with a crew of four, was aground on a rocky coastline off St John’s Point.

Portaferry’s inshore lifeboat crew checked the fishing boat for damage before taking the four male adults onboard the lifeboat and bringing them to safety at Ardglass Marina.

Once on land, the casualties were transferred into the care of Newcastle Coastguard Rescue Team.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Chris Adair said: “This was an early morning callout for our crew and thankfully it had a successful outcome.

“We also wish to express our thanks to our colleagues in Newcastle RNLI who launched both their lifeboats and travelled to the scene. We were grateful to have them there.

“With conditions fair, the four casualties were brought to safety quickly and we wish them well.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

In the first of two callouts in quick succession on Saturday evening (30 July), Newcastle RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was called to assist a broken-down boat at Gunns Island.

The volunteer crew answered their pagers at 5.57pm and launched the lifeboat in smooth seas but with poor visibility, mist and a Force 1-2 wind.

Before arriving on scene at Gunns Island northeast of the Co Down lifeboat station on Northern Ireland’s east coast, it emerged the Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team had already assisted the crew of the boat and got them ashore. Arrangements were made to have the boat recovered later.

Then at 6.56pm the lifeboat was diverted to a second call to reports of a vessel in distress between Killyleagh and Whiterock in Strangford Lough to the north.

The crew attended the area and conducted a thorough search but nothing was found. Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team carried out their own shore search and again nothing was found.

The volunteer crew were stood down at 8.50pm and returned to Newcastle Lifeboat Station, where the lifeboat was made ready for the next callout, at 11pm.

Shane Rice, RNLI coxswain for Newcastle RNLI said: “Thankfully both these callouts ended well. The persons who raised the alarm did exactly the right thing by dialling 999 and asking for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Newcastle RNLI rescued five rowers early yesterday morning (Sunday 26 June) after they got into difficulty in challenging weather conditions 23 nautical miles northeast of Ardglass.

The crew from the GB Row Challenge had left Tower Bridge London on 12 June to circumnavigate Great Britain and to collect environmental data.

The vessel had been monitored throughout the night by HM Coastguard with frequent radio transmissions. During a check at 7 am on Sunday, the rowers explained they had capsized and righted themselves but were unable to row.

Newcastle RNLI was requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 7.15 am. Weather conditions at the time were poor with a Force 7 southerly wind and very rough seas. The lifeboat launched under Gerry McConkey and with crew members Shane Rice, Lochlainn Leneghan, Declan McClelland, Karl Brannigan and Declan Barry onboard. Conditions deteriorated following the launch with weather increasing to a Force 9 southerly wind and high seas.

On arrival at 9.24 am, the volunteer crew assessed the situation and decided a tow was necessary to bring the vessel’s crew to safety. Such were the conditions at sea that it took three attempts before a tow was successfully established. Newcastle RNLI then towed the vessel to the nearest safe port at Ardglass, a passage that took two hours.

The rowers were met by Newcastle Coastguard, and one was checked over by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

Speaking following the call out, Newcastle RNLI Coxswain Gerry McConkey said: “We would like to wish the rowers well following their experience yesterday after they got caught by the poor weather. I would also like to commend our volunteer crew who used their skills and training to work in what were extremely challenging conditions that deteriorated during the call out to successfully bring the five people to safety.”

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, another crew of round-Britain rowers were rescued by Red Bay RNLI on Saturday (25 June) amid “hugely challenging conditions” at sea off Northern Ireland.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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In the first of two callouts on Saturday (4 June), Newcastle RNLI’s volunteer crew came to the aid of two people on a RIB some 12 miles offshore.

Pagers sounded just after 7.10am on Saturday morning following a report that two of the six people on the RIB, which was on passage to the Isle of Man from Ardglass, were suffering with severe seasickness.

Weather conditions at the time were challenging, with a four-metre sea swell and an east-northeasterly Force 5 wind.

The all-weather lifeboat, under coxswain Niall McMurray, immediately made its way to the scene off the Co Down coast in Northern Ireland to meet the RIB.

On arrival, the lifeboat crew assessed the situation before taking the two sick passengers onboard. The crew then checked them over and reassured them as they were then brought back to Ardglass Harbour, where they were handed into the care of Newcastle Coastguard.

Later that day a second call came shortly after 6pm when concerns were raised for a pleasure craft close to Maggies Leap. However, this turned out to be a false alarm and the volunteer crew were stood down shortly after arriving at the station.

Speaking following the callouts, McMurray said: “Conditions at sea were challenging on Saturday morning but we were glad to be able to bring the casualties safely ashore when they were unwell.

“The second call transpired to be a false alarm, but I would like to commend my fellow crew members who responded so quickly again, ready to respond and go to the aid of others.

“As we head into the summer months, we want to remind everyone to enjoy themselves, but to also make sure you stay safe and know what to do in an emergency. It is important that anyone visiting the coast understands the risks of the environment. It can be very unpredictable, particularly during early summer when the risk of cold water shock significantly increases, as air temperatures warm but water temperatures remain dangerously cold.

“If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat, control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. In a coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Volunteers at Newcastle RNLI rescued a swimmer who got into difficulty in rough seas close to the Co Down harbour this morning (Wednesday 2 March).

Two volunteers and three visiting staff members were working at the lifeboat station when shortly after 11am they observed a swimmer clinging to a buoy off the slip, having struggled in rough seas, and immediately went to their aid.

Station mechanic Shane Rice, under the watchful eye of the four others, grabbed a throw line and threw it to the swimmer who was able to reach it and hold on as the group successfully pulled them out of the water and brought them safely onto shore.

Weather conditions at the time were poor, with an easterly Force 6 wind and moderate waves.

Speaking following the rescue, Newcastle RNLI lifeboat operations manager Lisa Ramsden said: “This morning’s rescue was testament to our team who were in the right place at the right time, reacting quickly and efficiently, and I want to commend them for responding with courage and determination when they spotted the person in difficulty. We would like to wish the swimmer well following their experience this morning.”

She added: “Open water swimming is a popular activity, and we would encourage all swimmers to enjoy their swim while using some key safety advice.

“Check weather forecast and tide times before venturing out. Always carry a means of calling for help and let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back. If you can, try to avoid swimming alone — consider going with a buddy or as part of a group and look out for one another.

“Make sure you have the right kit. We would recommend a wetsuit in order to keep you warm and to increase your buoyancy together with a bright swim cap to make you more visible and a tow float to use in an emergency.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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When it retired from active service at Margate on England’s southeast coast in April last year, the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat faced an uncertain future but RNLB Leonard Kent has now arrived at its new home at Newcastle in County Down where it will continue its lifesaving work.

Leonard Kent initially spent some time at the RNLI Support Centre at Poole but was considered worthy of further service and subsequently earmarked to replace Newcastle’s existing Mersey class lifeboat from where it will operate until building work at the station has been completed and their new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat arrives.

Leonard Kent was moved to a boatyard at West Cowes on the Isle of Wight and treated to a life-extension programme including upgrading the electronics to the latest Systems and Information Management System (SIMS). Leonard Kent would have been familiar with its surroundings having been built at the then FBM Marine shipyard at Cowes in1992.

Training on the new upgraded Systems and Information Management System was carried out while the lifeboat was on passage from Dun Laoghaire to Newcastle this weekTraining on the new upgraded Systems and Information Management System was carried out while the lifeboat was on passage from Dun Laoghaire to Newcastle this week

On receiving the new lifeboat to Newcastle RNLI this week, Lifeboat Operations Manager Lisa Ramsden said: ‘It is with a sense of nostalgia that we bid farewell to our outgoing all-weather lifeboat, the Eleanor and Bryant Girling, which served the Newcastle community and all those whose aid she went to, for almost 30 years. As we begin a new chapter, we are looking forward to being the custodians of the Leonard Kent and the volunteer crew are excited to now have an upgraded Mersey.

‘Training on the new upgraded Systems and Information Management System was carried out while the lifeboat was on passage from Dun Laoghaire to Newcastle this week. The removal of the original radar and navigation system from the Mersey helps to reduce weight and create more space in the wheelhouse while an additional benefit for us here in Newcastle RNLI is that the new system will ensure the volunteer crew are prepared and proficient in the radar and navigation systems that will come with our future Shannon class lifeboat.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lifeboat crews from Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI were involved in the rescue of a man whose cabin cruiser was in danger of sinking off Co Down yesterday (Thursday 16 September).

The volunteers were requested to launch their lifeboats at 6pm yesterday evening following a request from Belfast Coastguard to go the aid of the casualty, who had abandoned his 9m cabin cruiser and had been rescued by the crew of a nearby motorboat.

Portaferry RNLI’s inshore lifeboat — helmed by Fergal Glynn and with crew members George Toma, Rosslyn Watret and David Fisher onboard — launched immediately and made its way to the scene one mile east of Gunn’s Island, southeast of the entrance to Strangford Lough on Northern Ireland’s east coast.

Newcastle RNLI, meanwhile, launched its all-weather lifeboat under coxswain Gerry McConkey and six crew members onboard, facing Force 4-5 southerly winds and a two- to two-and-a-half-metre sea swell.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crews saw that the casualty — who had been on his way to Bangor when his vessel took on water and the engine cut out — had deployed his life raft prior to his rescue.

The crews also observed that the cruiser was partially submerged, was listing and in a spin.

Having first checked that the casualty was safe and well on the motorboat, Portaferry RNLI transferred him onto the lifeboat before doing a further assessment. The man was cold and in shock but otherwise well.

The crew took the life raft onboard and deflated it before bringing the casualty to the nearest safe port at Ardglass, where they transferred the casualty into the care of Portaferry Coastguard.

Remaining at the scene, Newcastle RNLI proceeded to deal with the casualty vessel, with some crew working to establish an alongside tow while other crew members started the lifeboat’s salvage pump.

Due to the sea conditions, a decision was made to keep the pump onboard the lifeboat and instead pass the hose onto the boat to relieve the ingress of water.

In calmer waters and in the entrance of Strangford Lough, two crew members were transferred onto the vessel to assess the extent of the flooding. The lifeboat then proceeded to tow the vessel safely back to Strangford Lough.

Speaking following the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Fergal Glynn said: “We would like to wish the casualty well following his ordeal yesterday evening and commend the crew of the motorboat who were first on scene and rescued him.

“This operation was a team effort with our colleagues from Newcastle RNLI and Portaferry Coastguard all playing their part to bring both the man and the vessel to safety.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Newcastle RNLI in Northern Ireland had a busy Friday (16 July) with four callouts within a span of 20 hours.

The volunteer crew were first requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 2.36am on Friday morning to assist two men on a small boat which had broken down after experiencing difficulties off the Co Down coast. The vessel was towed back to its mooring at Newcastle Harbour.

At 12.40pm on Friday, the station’s all-weather lifeboat crew were requested by Belfast Coastguard to conduct a search after a number of personal possessions, including a swimmer’s robe, were discovered a short distance from the lifeboat station.

Shortly after the lifeboat was launched, it was stood down when it was ascertained the items had been on the rocks for several days.

Later at 6.53pm, both the inshore and all-weather lifeboats were requested to launch following a report to Belfast Coastguard from a member of the public that they had lost sight of a man that had entered the water after his dog at Murlough Beach in the Dundrum area.

As the lifeboats were about to launch, they were stood down as the man had managed to make it ashore.

At 9.14pm on Friday, both lifeboats were again requested to launch following a report that a parachutist had lost control and crashed into the water, south of Newcastle Harbour.

Extensive searches were carried out, with assistance from a coastguard helicopter from Wales, as well as local coastguard teams. During the search, lifeboat crew spotted a large deflated helium balloon which was retrieved from the sea. The search was subsequently stood down.

Speaking following the callouts, Newcastle RNLI lifeboat operations manager Lisa Ramsden said: “It has been a busy period for the station and I would like to commend our volunteer team and our colleagues in the various emergency services for their efforts.

“Some of these callouts transpired to be false alarms with good intent and we want to thank those who raised the alarm. We would always much rather launch and find that all is well than not launch at all.

“As we continue to enjoy some glorious weather, we would like to remind everyone to enjoy themselves but to always respect the water as they do. Always wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device and always carry a means of communication.

“Always let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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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 2023 Date

The 2023 50th Rolex Fastnet Race will start on Saturday, 22nd July 2023

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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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