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Displaying items by tag: Belfast Lough

A multi-agency response was launched last night (Monday 12 July) to battle a fire on board a Stena Line ferry in Belfast Lough.

As BBC News reports, the fire broke out in the engine room of the Superfast VIII around 9pm as the ferry was sailing to Northern Ireland from Cairnryan in Scotland.

All passengers were safely disembarked amid a “relatively calm” atmosphere as RNLI lifeboat crews from Bangor, Donaghadee and Larne dealt with what’s being described as “a small fire”.

Travel Weekly has an update on the story HERE.

Published in Ferry
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Several rescue teams went to the aid of a man trapped in mud near Holywood on the south coast of Belfast Lough this morning. (13th July).

The tide was flooding, and Mud Rescue Technicians worked rapidly to free the man, who was by then up to his waist in water. Once free from the mud, he was evacuated from the water by stretcher, in a hypothermic state.

Mud Technicians from Bangor and Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Teams attended as well as Lagan Search and Rescue from Belfast Harbour Marina, and the Police and Ambulance Services. The man, who was in his late 70s, was treated until the arrival of the Ambulance and then taken to hospital.

Published in Belfast Lough
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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

The 56 strong fleet of Laser sailors competing for the Ulster Championships was greeted last weekend with steady northerly winds of 12-18 knots on Saturday and 18-25 knots and sunshine on Sunday, for the first The ILCA (Laser) regional event of the year.

The Ulster championships were hosted by County Antrim Yacht Club in the beautiful village of Whitehead on the north shore of Belfast Lough. Competitors contended with strong tidal currents on a trapezoidal championship course managed by race officer, Sheela Lewis.

Ulster Championships Laser racing at Whitehead Yacht Club on Belfast Lough Photo: Kathryn AndersonUlster Championships Laser racing at Whitehead Yacht Club on Belfast Lough Photo: Kathryn Anderson

In the prizegiving, Sean Craig paid tribute to the friendly welcome offered by the CAYC, a sentiment that was greeted with enthusiastic applause by all participants. The impeccable hospitality was certainly a highlight of the event.

Royal Cork Yacht Club sailor, Ed Rice Kathryn AndersonRoyal Cork Yacht Club sailor, Ed Rice Photo: Kathryn Anderson

Youth sailors entering the ILCA 7 fleet are a challenge to the senior sailors

Finlay Tulett, a youth sailor from Dalgety Bay SC in Fife in Scotland, won the ILCA 7 (Laser Standard) fleet of 13 boats. RCYC sailor, Ed Rice, placed second, and third place was awarded to RstGYC sailor, Ross O’Leary. It was good to see youth sailors entering the ILCA 7 fleet and challenge the senior sailors.

Finlay Tulett, a youth sailor from Dalgety Bay SC in Scotland Photo: Kathryn AndersonFinlay Tulett, a youth sailor from Dalgety Bay SC in Scotland Photo: Kathryn Anderson

Irish Laser Association is expecting to see a growing number of youth sailors entering the ILCA 7 (Laser Standard) fleet and this opening event of the season gave a glimpse of the challenge that the younger sailors pose!

Christian Ennis of the National YCChristian Ennis of the National YC Photo: Kathryn Anderson

Gruelling beats and fast downwind surfing

The ILCA 4 (Laser 4.7) fleet was won by Christian Ennis of the National YC in a tightly contested event, where conditions made for gruelling beats and fast downwind surfing. Mark Henry of the RStGYC placed second and Zoe Whitford of East Antrim BC in 3rd. Further congratulations to Zoe Whitford who was also the first-placed girl in the ILCA 4 fleet. In the prize-giving, a special mention was made of RstGYC sailor, Krzysztof Ciborowski who was in 2nd place after day 1 but had to retire due to injury.

Whitehead sailor Ellen Barbour Photo: Kathryn AndersonWhitehead sailor Ellen Barbour Photo: Kathryn Anderson

Sean Craig of the RstGYC finished in first place overall in the ILCA 6 

The Radials made up the biggest fleet (28 entries) and it was great to see ILCA 6 sailors from all corners of Ireland of all ages, coming together for the first serious racing for almost two years. First female overall was local Whitehead sailor Ellen Barbour, who counted two excellent third place finishes. Following his recent Master Nationals win in Dun Laoghaire, Sean Craig of the RstGYC finished in first place overall in the ILCA 6 but was pushed extremely hard by many younger, rising stars. Chief amongst them was 2020 RYANI Youth Champion Tom Coulter from East Antrim BC in Larne, who showed a lot of speed and was just edged out of first place in a few races. This performance gave Coulter second overall, a few points ahead of 2018 Topper Worlds runner-up Hugh O’Connor (National Yacht Club). Each day, O’Connor won the middle race in the tough six-race series, sailed in super conditions with great downwind surfing and tough beats, into the tide. RO Sheela Lewis had to contend with many general recalls, and there were black flag casualties when the tide turned, and the ebb started flowing hard out of Belfast Lough.

RYANI Youth Champion Tom Coulter from East Antrim BCRYANI Youth Champion Tom Coulter from East Antrim BC Photo: Kathryn Anderson

After the success of the Ulsters and the return of many top sailors from international events, the Irish Laser Association are expecting an excellent turnout for the ILCA (Laser) Connaught Championships, which will be hosted by Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club on the weekend of 17/18 July. 

Additional reporting from the Irish Laser Association

Published in Laser
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Despite a strong showing by the Killyleagh Yacht Club visitors from Strangford Lough on the first day of the Squib Northerns at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on the south shore of Belfast Lough, in the end it was the local crew, Greg Bell and Jayne Kearney in Prodigal who stamped their authority on the 17 strong fleet posting an emphatic run of low scores to win from the Killyleagh team of Steven Bridges and Colin Dougan in Firecracker.

First and second places were fairly well scattered among the fleet, but it was the Bell crew's consistency that rewarded them the Championship.

Greg Bell (left) with Commodore RNIYC Nigel Carson and Jayne Kearney Photo: Lindsay NolanGreg Bell (left) with Commodore RNIYC Nigel Carson and Jayne Kearney Photo: Lindsay Nolan

Race 1, started in an eight to ten knot northeasterly and a choppy sea. Hot out the blocks was Firecracker from Killyleagh (Bridges and Dougan) showing a clean pair of heels and disappearing over the horizon to win that race. Behind were Toy for the Boys with Peter Wallace and Martin Weatherstone on board, fighting it out with the Eccles/Wright duo in Inshallah to finish that order. Race 2 went to another Killyleagh boat, Slipstream crewed by Neil Logan and Robert Marshall, with Firecracker second. Toy for the Boys pulled back to win Race 3 with Bell's Prodigal securing runner up.

Jumini (702) on a run credit Photo: Jen DicksonJumini (702) on a run Photo: Jen Dickson

On Sunday a lengthy postponement until the wind filled in meant an anxious wait for the five boats vying for the title. Race 4 got underway in a light shifting breeze, with the Howth boat, Durt sailed by Fergus O'Kelly and Dave Cotter from Howth hot out the blocks, but after a position shifting race, it was the host club's Greg Bell in Prodigal in the first slot, followed by clubmate Ross Kearney in Jumini and the Killyleagh crew in Firecracker third

Prodigal took Race 5 to stamp Bell's authority on the event even further, but this time runner up went to Douglas and Mellor in Inismara, with Jumini 3rd. In the shifty breeze for Race 6, there were new faces to the front with locals Gordon Patterson and Ross Nolan's Fagin leading the fleet and Gizmo (Park and Stinson) second.

Published in Squib
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Last weekend Lagan Search and Rescue were made aware of a video circulating on social media of a young man encouraged to enter the water off the Lagan Weir footbridge as a dare.

Lagan SAR is a provider of Belfast's Independent Lifeboat and Water Search, Rescue and Recovery Service. It operates on the seaward River Lagan, Belfast Harbour Estate and Belfast Lough.

Lagan Weir Footbridge is a five-span structure across the River Lagan Weir on Belfast's waterfront. Developed as part of a wider regeneration project for the city, it is 120m in length, and its deck width varies from 4m to 10m at its widest.

Noel Keenan, a member of the Operational Management Committee of Lagan SAR, said, "To say we were disappointed to see the footage is an understatement. The actions of the men involved were hazardous and could have ended in a loss of life". Lagan Search and Rescue is involved in multiple emergency callouts for people entering the water close to this location throughout the year. He added, "Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, we can't save everyone. Don't become a statistic".

Published in Belfast Lough
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 Just before midnight on Thursday 10th June, Lagan Search and Rescue, along with Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team, Portmuck CRT, the Police Service and a PSNI spotter plane, were all called to Hazlebank, Newtownabbey.

Hazlebank Park lies on the northern shore of Belfast Lough about six miles east of Belfast city.

There were reports of a small inflatable dinghy without navigation lights heading out into Belfast Lough with two persons onboard.

Members of the public reported the inflatable leaving but not coming back. The teams quickly found a vessel close to the shore with an inflatable alongside. Contact was made with the people on board, and it was established that they were safe and well and that they owned the inflatable.

Safety advice was given and about the lack of lights on both vessels and with everyone accounted for the team stood down.

Published in Belfast Lough
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We can only hope that next week's up-grading of our sailing from training events to official racing will hold up through a steadily developing season, despite the many challenges to continuing emergence from the pandemic. If it does, then when the full story of the sailing season of 2021 is finally analysed, it will be seen that the victory of John Minnis with his First 31.7 Final Call in last weekend's Scottish Series is in fact the first major "official" racing success this year, and a worthy "Sailor of the Month" winner for May.

Skipper Minnis and his keen crew are no strangers to being in the frame both in First 31.7 and handicap racing. But it took a special level of enthusiasm for a flotilla of cruiser-racers from Belfast and Strangford Loughs to cross the North Channel for a very controlled Scottish series in which the racing was certainly real and officially recognised, but just about everything else was virtual and socially distanced, with three different venues being used in the eastern Firth of Clyde.

Thus it wasn't felt appropriate to declare an overall winner, but had they done so, Final Call's very impressive scorecard and clear class win would have made her the favoured contender for the top title.

Final Call racing in the First 31.7 Class in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019, when she finished second overall in a class of 14 boats. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'BrienFinal Call racing in the First 31.7 Class in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019, when she finished second overall in a class of 14 boats. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien

Published in Sailor of the Month

It was multi shout four days for Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team on Belfast Lough when they covered calls some of which resulted in rescue action.

On Thursday (20th) the team attended a yacht offshore reported to have a broken mast and no sign of anyone on board. Thankfully, it was found that the vessel was moored, and no further action was required. Then on Friday (21st), there was a report of an unmanned paddleboard in the Ballyholme Bay area, but it was discovered that it belonged to a BYC member and had blown into the water in the high winds.

The vessel towed to Bangor MarinaThe vessel towed to Bangor Marina

On the Saturday, the team answered a call about possible ordnance near Crawfordsburn Beach east of Bangor on the Belfast Lough coast. Again, there was no danger as it turned out to be a rusted fire extinguisher.

Yesterday (Sunday 23rd), Bangor Lifeboat towed a small broken-down vessel from near the Copeland Island off Donaghadee on the Down coast to Bangor Marina. They headed to Bangor, shadowed by the Coastguard. From the beach at Ballyholme, one of the CRT team spotted what looked like an upturned paddleboard in the water, and the Lifeboat was requested to drop the tow and make best speed to the area. They located the object, and thankfully on this occasion, it was driftwood. The Lifeboat re-established the tow back to the marina, where they were met by Coastguard personnel.

Published in Belfast Lough

It could be construed as an encouraging sign that half of the twelve-boat entry for the inaugural Royal Ulster Yacht Club on Belfast Lough to Strangford Lough Race was from that destination. Boats from the local fleet which would have been expected to enter were Sigma 33s, not yet launched due to the inclement spring weather.

Winner of both classes were visitors with the IRC fleet top prize going to Shaun Douglas's Beneteau 40.7 Game Changer from Cockle Island Boat Club at Groomsport on the North Down coast, in a corrected time of 3hrs 51mins ahead of Michael Eames' Sun Fast 3200 All or Nothing from Strangford Lough YC. And All or Nothing featured again, winning the NHC Unrestricted fleet in a corrected time of 3hrs 47mins in the NHC fleet ahead of Jay Colville's First 40 Forty Licks from Strangford Lough YC.

An interesting entry was the MGRS Juno which Myles Lindsay of Royal Ulster raced in Belfast Lough in the 90s. She languished in Arklow for some years and is now racing again in the North thanks to Terence O'Neill of Portaferry SC. She turned in a very respectable 4th place in the NHC fleet.

The course was from Bangor south along the Ards Peninsula coast to the finish on an imaginary East/West line at the Bar Pladdy South Cardinal buoy in the entrance to Strangford Sound.

The weather played its part in this race with a forecast of 10 knots early on and then an increase to 18 knots later which meant that with a Covid Restriction of 80% crew limit the two-sail fetch became a procession.

John Harrington in the IMX38, Excession was enthusiastic about the race even though as he said, they "didn't make a particularly good show of it competitively". He said " The sailing committee and the battery teams laid on a fantastic event for us. It was great to see so many visiting boats come for this new challenge. And the customary warm welcome in Portaferry brought back memories of events of old and an indication of a great summer of sailing ahead of us. We eagerly await the next race in the series".

Published in Belfast Lough
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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