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Displaying items by tag: Belfast Lough

#BelfastLough - Belfast Lough's north foreshore will soon be home to a concentration of sustainable businesses that promises to be a first for Northern Ireland.

UTV News reports on the Cleantech Hub, a 30-acre waterfront site at Giant's Park aimed at firms in the renewables, environmental and low-carbon sectors.

Already adjacent to the site is a plant that converts gas from landfill to electricity powering 2,500 homes.

And it's hoped that the new scheme "will now firmly position the city as a leading destination for green technology, enhancing the profile of the sector here, as well as generating interest beyond these shores," according to David McNellis of agents Lisney, managing the hub on behalf of Belfast City Council.

UTV News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Belfast Lough

#ArcticBelfast - As previously reported on Afloat’s Ferry News, this week Belfast Port had an eighth Stena vessel docked in the harbour which today marks 20 years of ferry operations, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Easily the largest ship is Stena Arctica (belonging to the Stena Group), which is a 117,000 dwt crude oil tanker from an ice-breaker series. The large oil products tanker fitted with an ice-breaking bow is undergoing a major refit for Stena Bulk at Harland & Wolff.

The UK flagged vessel of 249.79m in length on a beam of 44.07m and a draft of 6m is occupying H&W's Belfast Dry-Dock. Stena Arctica is the world’s largest oil tanker that is with an ice class 1A super certification. The design of the vessel allows the tanker to cope in navigating extreme ice conditions with up to 1 metre thick ice.

She is longer and wider than a conventional ice-tanker. Also, the ‘Arctica’ has more built-in steel in her sturdy ice belt, extra-strengthened frames, and an ice-propeller that is more robust than normal.

In a harsh and frozen environment, the ‘Arctica’s’ main engine provides more than 50% of her power. The bridge has a 360-degree view for greater safety in narrow waters. She is optimally designed for safe carriage of oil in the Baltic Sea all year round.

As for the other seven Stena ships in Belfast Port referred above, they are from their Irish Sea North ferry fleet serving out of the harbour. All of the fleet underwent a £6m refit investment programme also at H&W that was completed in Easter. The bulk of the upgrade on these ferries including freight vessels was carried out at the yard over a five month timeframe.

Among those upgraded in the refit programme was the ‘Heysham-max’ class freight-ferry Stena Precision. She belongs to a quartet as route-mate Stena Performance also sails on the Belfast-Heysham service which carries mostly freight and leisure traffic.

The other pair that makeup the ro-ro class quartet remain running for Seatruck Ferries on their Dublin-Liverpool service which is to expand with a third ship next week.

Published in Belfast Lough

#Sailability - Belfast Lough Sailability has added three new boats to its fleet, as the Carrick Times reports.

The 2.4 Olympic class boats Peg and Skye and the Hawk 20’ day sailor keel boat Arica were officially named in a ceremony at Carrickfergus Marina recently.

And all three were made available for sailing to those with disabilities in the Mid and East Antrim Borough and the wider Northern Irish community.

Events that the initiative supports include this summer's Sailability Round Ireland cruise, which saw the donation of a Squip dinghy to the recently established Foyle Sailability for the north-west border region.

The Carrick Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Belfast Lough
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#NewBelfastTug – One of the largest UK independent harbour tug firms, SMS Towage has taken delivery of another tug for its Belfast operations last month. 

The new ASD (azimuth stern drive) tug to Belfast brings the overall investment in the Northern Irish city port to over £9m having began operations just over two years ago in October 2013.

The Turkish-built ASD Merchantman completed in 2009 has a 50 bollard tonnes. The near 25m long vessel is sister to the ASD Masterman (as previously reported on which entered service in the city also in 2013.

Together they form the most modern fleet of omni-directional tugs in Belfast Harbour, said joint managing director Gareth Escreet of Hessle, East Yorkshire-based SMS Towage.

“This is a significant level of investment, and shows our commitment and confidence in the growing level of activity we are experiencing in Belfast,” said Gareth.

“With an operational life here beyond 2030, it allows us to leverage the fleet advantages of commonality of spare parts, training, and vessel familiarisation.”

SMS Towage began trading in Belfast due to the attraction as desired for change from major port users and with potential for work from a new offshore wind terminal and a purpose built cruise terminal.

Last year, Belfast saw a record 112,000 cruise passengers pass through the port.

The tug firm also deals with regular vessel towage work from the Fred Olsen-owned businesses of Dolphin Drilling and Harland & Wolff.

The Olsen group includes the Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines whose ships have visited the port. The most recent example been Boudicca which was on a ‘no passport required' cruise last month of the UK and Ireland.

Published in Belfast Lough

There was some dramatic sailing on the final day of the Belfast Lough Autumn Series. Whilst many of the first Class prizes in the series had already been decided, this didn't stop those behind trying their hardest to make a mark.

belfast lough yachts

The IRC fleet got away first in a shifting southerly breeze. Whilst 15 knots and gusts of up to 25 knots were forecast, the wind eased just before the start and most started with full sail though stretched to their maximum. Both Indigo and Final Call clung to the back of Giggle as close as possible upwind. The wind backed at the end of each of the downwind legs forcing boats to drop their spinnakers and gybe at the leeward mark asking for perfect teamwork and coordination. Giggle was first to feel the pressure with some unusual spinnaker fleg flying and the halyard refusing to drop. Fifty foot of asymmetric is a bit of an anchor on the upwind leg and allowed Indigo to record their second win of the series followed by Final Call.

Ken Green has obviously been watching some of the Americas Cup manoeuvres in Bermuda and pulled a fantastic start in the Sigma fleet sailing underneath Cariad and Sqwawk to keep both high of the committee boat until just before the signal. Starshine Challenger the took advantage of some favourable lifts getting the first of any gusts and quickly built a comfortable lead. Sqwawk drew Cariad into a tacking duel and just squeezed past at the top mark though Cariad followed closely on the way back down and tried hard to drop their kite at the last minute to keep the pressure on. Unfortunately their spinnaker backed either side of their genoa making retrieval very slow and allowing Sqwawk to escape.

Mingulay and Margarita had another tight race in the CYCA class with the former getting away but being slowly dragged back by the finish to a dramatic final on elapsed time. Team Curry, Wilde and Nixey had their best race of the series, scoring second on corrected time, with Colonomas coming in fourth.

While Jonathan Star had already secured the NIRKRA prize, the series points were very close in the ranks below. The leaders built a good lead quickly followed by Alan Morrison's Starflash who had only the father/son team of John and Conor Simms to assist him but went on to score their best result of the series. They were followed closely by QtPi and Manzanita but it was David Quinn's Chatterbox just behind who scored the race win on handicap and with it, second place in the series.

The Belfast Lough Autumn Series has seen some of the best keelboat racing of the year with differing but manageable conditions throughout, unseasonable warm temperatures and great courses laid on by Race Officer Colin Loughead and his committee boat and mark laying team. All of the crews attended the overall prize giving at Ballyholme Yacht Club where BYC Commodore Mark Mackey and RUYC Vice Commodore Myles Lindsay gave many thanks to them and the Committee boat owners, in particular Elaine and David Taylor who stood in for all of the October races.

Overall Results


1. Giggle Phil Davis
2. Final Call J Minnis/ B Roche


1. Sqwawk Paul Prentice
2. Starshine Challenger Burton Allen


1. Mingulay. John & Mandy Ritchie
2. Margarita. John Moorehead


1. Jonathan Star Garth, Kathryn and Myles Lindsay
2. Chatterbox. David Quinn


1. Montrose Robin & Victoria Millar
2. Ivanhoe John McCrea

Published in Belfast Lough

#Shipping - A gigantic cargo ship nearly a third of a kilometre long has docked in Belfast for emergency repairs.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the Al Oraiq is the largest shipping vessel Belfast Lough has seen in almost three decades, only beaten in terms of sheer size by next-generation cruise liners like the Royal Princess, which visited the city just over a year ago.

The 300-plus-metre giant is expected to be docked in Harland & Wolff for a number of weeks of surveys and repairs. The Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Sunday afternoon saw the second race of the Lisglass Builders Icebreakers Series with a wide range of dinghies across all classes.

The Topper class is still depleted with squad training going on elsewhere but it was good to see Freya Sharp out for her first race in one of the BYC Eric Twiname boats, and 3 Fevas on the water with the brother-sister crew of Jamie and Ellie Mackey battling around the race course. Memories were evoked from 35 years ago of the Flannigan brothers - similarly competitive in their Cadet dinghy. Ollie Haig scored his second win of the series in the Topper while Catherine Pooler and Anna Wilson from SLYC similarly won the Low PY class.

In the larger PY class, Gareth Flannigan and Dave Fletcher stormed away from his brother Robin with Diane Burgess in the RS400s, and the rest of the following RS200s, Laser 2000s and Sandra Halliwell going it alone this week in her new RS Aero 5. Hopefully Susanna will be not be forgotten.

The Multihull fleet saw a new F18 entrant in the guise of Andrew Gallagher and his novice crew "Gordon" Ritson. Great to see Aaron being dragged into the family sport. The F18 fleet all started on port against Stephen Magee alone in his Dart 18 with the well poslished crew of Adrian Allen and Barry Swanston getting up to speed first and building up a big lead by the finish.

Russell McGovern has been a welcome addition to the Laser Icebreaker fleet this year, having not sailed in the dinghy since his Australian days and now many years after his Olympic campaign before joining his brother Matt in the 49er. In recent times, he has been very successful imparting his knowledge to the ISA Radial squad including Ballyholme's Liam Glynn who won a Europa Cup event last summer.

A southerly breeze encouraged many of the Laser fleet to go for the pin-end of the line with those able to tack and get away quickly up the shore to the South east mark making the gains. Russell showed his speed rounding the first mark in the lead from Mark Mackey closely followed by Richard Ramsey and Garth Maxwell. Chris Boyd sailed down on the outside of the first downwind to chase Russell with Robin Moran close on his heels. The usual carnage and hailing could be heard behind.

A great race ensued with places changing rapidly and then rewon. With Russell now covering, Chris Boyd closed within striking distance at the end. Richard Ramsey nipped in front of Robin Moran for third place, with Robin also losing out to Phil Anderson who took the shorter route to the finish line. It will be the last time Mark Mackey tells Phil which way to go, finishing 6th behind the two of them.

In the Laser Radial fleet, Tom Purdon showed some great speed although learnt a few lessons in which Lasers to cross and which not to mess with. Liam Glynn won with Brian Bibby coming second ahead of Tom. In the Laser 4.7 fleet, new RYANI squad member Sam Rutherford scored his first win.

Next week sees Race 3 but there may be issues with Irelands triumphant win over France meaning a Sunday start against Argentina at 1300. Stay tuned to Ballyholme's Facebook page for any changes.

Full results here

Published in Belfast Lough
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A bit more breeze on Sunday morning on Belfast Lough encouraged Autumn Series Race Officer Aidan Pounder to give the fleets a longer course than has been experienced in the previous lighter weekends. Racing got away promptly and immediately there were questions as to where was best to go – the expected lift on the right hand side but potential "holes" closer to shore, or the steadier breeze on the left with a nasty chop over most of the course to contend with.

Despite the obstacle course, there was tight across all fleets if not always at the front. Giggle escaped in the larger IRC fleet but behind Final Call had their best race of the series staying close enough to Indigo to beat them by just 12 seconds on corrected time.

In the Sigma fleet, Cariad had their best race for a number of weeks with the combined brains of owner Gerry Bell and Rob Armstrong setting the tactics. Taking advantage of the left hand breeze they got an advantage by the first mark which they managed to hold onto until the finish. Behind them Sqwawk and Starshine Challenger traded places continually, kept closer by some unusual spinnaker hoists aboard the former. At the final bottom mark the boats were still so close that the race places will be determined in the protest room at a later date. It was great to see Burton Allen aboard Startshie Challenger as competitive as ever goading on his returning helm Ken Green.

In the CYCA handicap, John Moorehead enjoyed his first win of the series aboard Margarita winning by just 11 sesconds from Mingulay.

The NIRKRA fleet saw some of the tightest racing with the lead changing places several times between Starflash, Manzanita and Jonathan Star. Only Mumbo Jumbo got left behind with a poor spinnaker hoist on the final leg. On the last lap, Jonathan Star managed to escape from the rest and scored their second win of the series. Manzanita followed with QtPi scoring third by 5 seconds from Starflash.

With two races left in the series, only Giggle can feel safe in the IRC fleet with everything to play for across the other classes.

Full results here

Published in Racing
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Charlie West–Hurst's Mumbo Jumbo won their first race of the Belfast Lough Autumn Keelboat Series last Sunday morning, finishing just behind the other NIRKRA competitors to win on handicap. This was the fourth different winner in as many weeks with only 2 minutes seperating the fleet on corrected time.

Racing was postponed initially on Sunday morning with racing looking unlikely with little wind forecast until the afternoon but some lovely early Autumn sunshine for everyone to enjoy. Thankfully after just 20 minutes, a brisk Southerly 8-12 knots set in to Race Officer Colin Loughead's joy who got racing started quickly.

The IRC fleet got away first with Giggle tramping away as expected from the smaller Final Call. The Sigma fleet followed with tight racing around the first two laps when Impulse and Cariad got into a private duel allowing the other two to escape. Sqwawk repeatedly tried to escape Burton Allen's Starshine Challenger upwind but was dragged back on the runs with only boat lengths separating them at the final leeward mark. Paul Prentice's team hung on for a 3rd win in the series and overall lead.

In the Restricted Whitesail NHC class John Moorehead's Margarita scored their second win of the series with a good lead at the finish over Mingulay and the following Enigma.

The smaller NIRKRA fleet saw the tightest racing with David Milne's Manzanita leading from QtPi and Starflash. The latter broke through by the end to finish second over the water but has suffered from her successes earlier in the season and her henceforth higher NHC handicap to drop to 6th on corrected time. Manzanita could look back to see the chasing "slower" Chatterbox followed closely by Mumbo-Jumbo who was enjoying the freshening breeze and won the race by just 10 seconds. The NIRKRA class was set up 2 years ago with a restricted banding centered around the old quarter-tonner mark and this series has shown the competitive nature of the fleet with four different winners in as many races and only 2 points seperating the first 4 boats overall.

Next Sunday's racing looks to be a bit fresher with the imminent leftovers of Hurricane Joaquin. There are 3 races still left in the series with all classes still up for winning. Many thanks to David and Elaine Taylor for lending Whiskey Mac to be the committee boat.

Full results here

Published in Belfast Lough
Tagged under

The 1897-built Fife-designed 37ft Belfast Lough One Design Tern has made a successful debut in the classics scene in the Mediterranean by winning her class in Les Voiles de St Tropez 2015 writes W M Nixon.

We’ve reported from time to time on the Mallorca-based restoration project on Tern on over the past 18 months. But we were keeping our fingers crossed that all would continue to go well after her successful launching on August 6th - so much effort was going into the final work and detailed finishing that, with time limited before she could be taken to the major regattas in the south of France, all and any sorts of hitches could still occur.

Since then, there has been further concern with the weather in southeast France being exceptionally bad, with seriously adverse effects in recent days on the classic events in both Cannes and St Tropez. But Tern has not only come through unscathed, she has won her class overall despite the fact that there was only racing on two days at St Tropez, recording a first and second.

This has all been hugely confidence-building for the team involved, and greatly improves the likelihood of Tern coming to Ireland next year. The Royal Ulster Yacht Club on Belfast Lough – which was her home club in her early days and still displays several photos of Tern and her six pioneering sisters from 1897 and 1898 - is celebrating its 150th Anniversary in 2016, while at different times Tern was also based in Cork Harbour, Waterford and Dun Laoghaire, and she was one of the five yachts taking part in the Founding Cruise of the Irish Cruising Club to Glengarriff in July 1929, giving Tern direct links with all of the Irish coast between West Cork and County Antrim, as she was built by Hilditch in Carrickfergus.


Aboard Tern on her first sail since restoration, off the coast of Mallorca in August

tern3When the new Belfast Lough ODs started racing in May 1897, it all happened so quickly that when sailmakers Ratsey & Lapthorne at their Scottish loft found that they lacked Tern’s allocated sail number 7, shortage of time meant they simply used an inverted 2 instead, and this has been faithfully replicated in the new 2015 sails, also made by Ratsey & Lapthorne.

As well, the hull lines of the BLOD 25s from 1897 were then used for the building of the Dublin Bay 25s from 1898 onwards, though the Dublin Bay boats had a higher specification, and carried a lead ballast keel instead of the Belfast Lough boats’ less expensive cast iron.

One of the famous William Maguire Dublin Bay models in the National Yacht Club is of the Fife-designed Dublin Bay 25ft OD, whose hull lines were identical to Tern. And Tern herself - though by that time rigged as a cruising yawl - was based at the National YC from 1944 to 1954, firstly under the joint ownership of Charles E Hogg and Maurice Healy from 1944 to 1949, and then under the ownership of J J Lenihan until 1954, after which she moved to Falmouth in southwest England. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in Historic Boats
Page 10 of 22

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.


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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