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#Rowing: Ireland international Monika Dukarska won in the women’s single, double and coxed quadruple for Killorglin at the Irish Offshore Championships in Ballygally, Larne, on Saturday. Rough weather in the morning forced the organisers to alter the course. The men’s coxed quad was won by a composite crew which featured Niall O’Toole. Patrick Boomer of Loughros Point won the men’s single.

Irish Offshore Championships, Saturday, Ballygally, Larne (Selected Results; winners)

Men

Quadruple, coxed: Wicklow, Killurin, Ring 16 min 54 sec.

Double: UL Tyrian 19:41.

Single: Loughros Point (P Boomer) 20:27.

Women

Quadruple, coxed: Killorglin 19:05.

Double: Killorglin A (M Dukarska, R O’Donoghue) 19:50.

Single: Killorglin (M Dukarska) 20:39.

Mixed

Double: Arklow A 20:17.

Published in Coastal Rowing

Larne RNLI’s volunteer crew were kept busy with two callouts in quick succession on yesterday’s Bank Holiday (Monday 26 August), while the Portaferry lifeboat had an early-hours launch to aid a yacht run around in Strangford Lough.

Larne’s inshore lifeboat Terry launched in calm seas to reports of an inflatable driving out to sea at Ballygally beach, Larne RNLI says.

After a brief search of the area, the inflatable was recovered, deflated and returned to its own owner, who was offered some advice on water safety.

Shortly after, while the crew were recovering the inshore lifeboat at East Antrim Boat Club, reports came through from the Portmuck Coastguard mobile team of a paddle boarder in difficulty just off Muck Island, near Islandmagee.

Relaunching at 3.30pm, the lifeboat approached the island to search for the casualty and were directed to his location by a passing’s jetskier.

When the lifeboat crew reached the boarder, Larne RNLI says they learned that the man had been on the water with his two daughters and hadn’t realised the currents had been taking them further out to sea.

One of the girls made it back to shore, but the father and his other daughter were in difficulty — however, the jetskier realised their predicament and offered to take the other girl back to shore while the father called for help.

By the time the lifeboat reached him he had been fighting the currents for 45 minutes and was tired.

After assessing him for injuries, he and his board were brought into Portmuck at Islandmagee.

Inshore lifeboat helm Pamela Leitch said following the callouts: “Please be aware of the strong currents and crosswinds around our coastline. It doesn’t take much for someone to get into real difficulty when they are blown out to sea.”

Much earlier in the day, Portaferry RNLI’s volunteers were tasked by Belfast Coastguard to assist a yacht with two on board that had run aground on Roe Island in Strangford Lough.

The inshore lifeboat launched under little moonlight at 12.50am and were on scene 28 minutes later, taking the yacht under tow to a safe place to anchor.

Portaferry RNLI press officer Jordan Conway said: “The yacht’s crew made the right decision to call for help as there was a falling tide and the situation could have got a lot worse.

“We would remind everyone planning a trip at sea to always respect the water. Always wear a lifejacket, always carry a means of communication and should you get into difficulty, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Dun Laoghaire RNLI launched to a 34ft yacht unexpectedly dismasted while sailing near Dalkey Island yesterday afternoon (Sunday 25 August).

The skipper aboard the yacht was able to call the coastguard by VHF radio, and the volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch the all-weather Anna Livia at 2.15pm in calm conditions, Dun Laoghaire RNLI reports.

Once on the scene, the lifeboat crew checked that the skipper was safe and uninjured, then he and his yacht were towed back to Dun Laoghaire.

Speaking after the callout, Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s coxswain Mark McGibney said: “In this situation where the yacht unexpectedly dismasted, the skipper was able to alert the coastguard as thankfully he had a backup handheld VHF radio. It is also essential to always carry a means of communication.”

Hours before, Larne RNLI was requested to launch by Belfast coastguard to reports of a sinking vessel with two people on board.

Launching both of their lifeboats, Larne RNLI’s volunteer crew made their way towards the casualty vessel’s reported position, just outside of Larne Harbour.

While en route, the inshore lifeboat Terry was stopped by a passing pleasure craft which reported they had recovered the two people from the casualty vessel, who were found to be safe and well and were returned to shore on the all-weather lifeboat.

Larne RNLI inspect the submerged vessel | Photo: RNLI/Derek ReaLarne RNLI inspect the submerged vessel | Photo: RNLI/Derek Rea

Later both lifeboats were requested to survey the casualty vessel to see if anything could be salvaged — but by then it was mostly submerged, as Larne RNLI reports.

Earlier in this Bank Holiday weekend for Northern Ireland, Kilkeel RNLI launched late on Friday (23 August) to attend a 10m yacht with two on board which had become stranded with a rope in the propeller.

Kilkee RNLI says the volunteer crew located the yacht Villa Vilja — which was on passage from Tromso, Norway to the Caribbean — seven miles north-east of Kilkeel in freshening conditions.

And with the yacht tossing about in the rough seas, the lifeboat helm brought the lifeboat safely aside and a crew member boarded the yacht to check all was well to establish a tow.

Despite the challenging conditions, the yacht was brought safely into Kilkeel Harbour where the local coastguard team ensured it was safely and securely berthed at the pontoon.

Kilkeel RNLI lifeboat operations manager John Fisher said: “The transfer of a crew member to another vessel is a manoeuvre the crew often practice but with both boats being tossed about, the transfer was particularly difficult — but was managed, as usual, in a very safe professional manner and we wish the sailors a safe onward passage to the Caribbean.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A member of the US Coast Guard and three of his relatives have been praised by the father of a young girl rescued after she was swept out to sea from a Dublin beach.

As The Irish Times reports, Walter Butler and his relations Eoghan Butler, Declan Butler and Alex Thomson leapt into action when they heard screams for help and saw the girl on a “pink floaty” off Portmarnock beach on Monday afternoon (22 July).

Butler remained on the beach ready to provide casualty care while the others swam out to the girl, who was swept some distance from shore and at one point was struggling to stay afloat after coming off her inflatable.

“We have all been swimming competitively since we were six or seven years old so to say we are good swimmers is an understatement,” said Butler — who noted that it still took half an hour for his relatives to reach the girl and swim her back to the beach, where paramedics and her relieved father were waiting.

The dangers of using inflatables at the seaside were highlighted again just hours later, when Larne RNLI launched yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 23 July) to a report of three people being carried out to sea on inflatable toys in Browns Bay.

At the scene, the volunteer crew found a small fishing vessel had already taken one casualty on board, and they look over to bring the remaining two onto the lifeboat.

RNLI volunteer helm Barry Kirkpatrick said: “We advise you not to use inflatables at the beach as offshore winds can easily sweep you off the shore in a very quick space of time.

“If you do get into difficulty or see anyone else in difficulty, please remember to call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Belfast Coastguard has warned that a number of children have been blown out to sea on inflatable toys in recent days.

“Please remember the safest place for children to play with these death traps is in the back garden,” a spokesperson said.

Published in Rescue

Portrush RNLI’s volunteer crew launched yesterday evening (Monday 22 July) to reports of a jetskier in difficulty at Benone Beach around 8.17pm.

The crew, who had just finished an exercise and had been stood down, launched the all-weather lifeboat in record time after the HM Coastguard request.

It was reported that three persons had already entered the water to assist the jetskier but had to return to shore to receive medical attention from the coastguard.

The lifeboat crew reached the jetskier at 8.35pm in smooth seas but with a strong offshore breeze which had hindered the three people attempting to assist.

After the jetski was secured alongside the lifeboat, the crew took the casualty on board, where he assessed and deemed to be medically fit.

It was then decided that the jetskier and his craft should be taken back to the beach, using the all-weather lifeboat’s smaller Y boat, to the waiting coastguard.

Des Austin, coxswain of Portrush RNLI, said after the callout: “The jetskier had no wetsuit on and even in a balmy summer evening the water is still very cold, so it was important that we reached him as soon as we could.

“There was also a strong off shore wind which made it difficult for the other swimmers to assist, so the members of the public did exacty the right thing by calling for help.

“It’s also key for us to make sure that the jetski is recovered also as it could pose a hazard if not taken out of commission.”

“LarneLarne RNLI tows the 37ft yacht back to East Antrim Boat Club | Photo: RNLI/Samantha Agnew

Much earlier in the day, Larne RNLI volunteers’ pagers sounded at 5am after reports that a 37ft yacht had broken its moorings at East Antrim Boat Club and run aground in Larne Lough, causing a potential hazard to the shipping lanes.

Both lifeboats were launched 10 minutes later in moderate seas on an overcast morning, and once on scene it was decided to place a crew member from the inshore lifeboat on the casualty vessel to secure a tow line.

Once brought into deeper water and assessed as being safe and undamaged, the yacht was then towed by the larger all-weather lifeboat to a spare mooring back at East Antrim Boat Club.

“It was an early start for our volunteers this morning and we had a good turnout of crew for the callout.” said Larne’s lifeboat operations manager Allan Dorman.

“This scenario is something that we practice during training and I was glad to see that everyone worked together for a successful outcome.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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This past Saturday 22 June, Larne RNLI opened its doors to the public to celebrate 25 years of saving lives at sea in the local area.

Since the station opened in in 1994, Larne lifeboat volunteers have launched 514 times, saving 34 lives and rescuing 454 people, with an average of 21 shouts per year.

Larne RNLI celebrated this 25th Anniversary milestone with its supporters who have made their work possible on a fun-filled family day with visitors from far and wide taking the opportunity to see the inshore lifeboat up close and meet the local crew.

Visitors — which included Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Maureen Morrow — also had the chance to see a video of recent rescue launches and training to get a real feel for what the Larne volunteers do on a weekly basis.

RNLI lifeguards also attended with their rescue boards and sea safety messages, teaching young and old how to enjoy a trip to the beach safely this summer.

“JuniorJunior crew Isla Kirkpatrick and Megan Ford-Hutchinson helming the inshore lifeboat | RNLI/Larne

Two Northern Ireland Ambulance Service paramedics brought along an ambulance allowing people to step inside, see the equipment they carry and try out being a patient.

Pets as Therapy UK also kindly attended with their dogs allowing peoples of all ages to hear about their work and meet the animals.

The open day was also a fundraiser for the lifeboat, and a total of £772.48 was kindly donated by visitors on the day. This money will go towards the work of Larne RNLI allowing the charity to continue to save lives at sea in the local area.

Phil Ford-Hutchinson, Larne RNLI’s deputy launching authority, said: “We would like to thank everyone who attended, very generously donated and helped make it a very special day.

“We would also like to thank all the local businesses who supported us and helped make our 25th anniversary open day such a success.”

Food was provided by Asda, Woodland Woodies, Creed, McDowells, Bake, Ann’s Pantry and Upper Crust. Got U Covered Gazebos provided shade from the sun, DJ Stephen Snoddy provided music, and Larne Port Ltd provided free parking for visitors. The event was also supported by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and East Antrim Boat Club.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Larne RNLI has a close-knit group of volunteers, both crew members and fundraisers, with a strong family ethos and team approach to ensure everyone plays their part to help saves lives at sea on the east Co Antrim coast.

Recently, one of these volunteers — Barry Kirkpatrick, a local teacher — completed his assessments to qualify as an RNLI all-weather lifeboat coxswain.

“Being an RNLI volunteer is a big commitment but working alongside like-minded people, to help those in distress at sea, is very rewarding,” Barry said.

“It’s very much a team approach at Larne RNLI with a fantastic camaraderie within the crew.”

The commitment to the lifeboat isn't only measured in the time spent involved in rescues, but also in the essential weekly training scenarios.

The volunteers in Larne RNLI, who come from all walks of life, train six times per month to ensure they are fully trained on all aspects of rescues including keeping up to date with new and evolving equipment.

With only one in 10 lifeboat crew members having professional maritime experience, the charity’s comprehensive competency-based crew training is vital to saving lives at sea.

And when the pagers do go off, volunteers are ready to drop everything as they’re called away from their families, their beds and their work, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“Our crews train extensively across a broad spectrum to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to be a member of the lifeboat crew,” says Larne RNLI coxswain Frank Healy. “This means giving time and dedication to meet the requirements.

“This was realised recently when Barry, after long, intensive and wide-ranging training, was passed out successfully as an all-weather lifeboat coxswain. A great achievement for Barry who is a very valuable asset to Larne station.”

In 2019 Larne RNLI is celebrating 25 years of local volunteers providing its rescue service to the Larne area. Over the last 25 years, Larne lifeboats have launched 514 times, saving 34 lives and rescuing 454 people, with an average of 21 shouts a year.

To celebrate the work of volunteers and the support the local community have provided, Larne RNLI are holding an open day at the lifeboat station on Olderfleet Road on Saturday 22 June from 12pm-4pm.

Everyone is welcome to come along, meet the volunteers and enjoy a fun-filled day with a BBQ, bouncy castles, our mascot Stormy Stan and lots more.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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It was a busy weekend for RNLI lifeboats in Arklow, Larne and Kilmore Quay which each had callouts over the Easter period.

Arklow RNLI launched on Sunday afternoon (21 April) to assist a jetski in difficulty following a launch request from the Irish Coast Guard at 3.15pm.

The volunteer lifeboat crew left their families on Easter Sunday to answer the callout, bringing the all-weather lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr just north of Arklow Harbour where the casualty vessel had been reported adrift and without power.

The jetski, with two people aboard, was quickly located off the back of Arklow's North Pier, dangerously close to the rocky shoreline.

The two people aboard were immediately recovered onto the lifeboat and a line was secured to the jetski to tow it back to shore.

In Larne, RNLI volunteers were called out twice on Sunday evening to people in difficulty.

In the first callout, both the all-weather and inshore lifeboats were called to aid two kayakers who had overturned near Browns Bay just off Islandmagee.

Larne RNLI launched into a calm sea at 5,45pm with the inshore lifeboat, Terry, tasked to bring the kayakers safely to shore, while the all-weather lifeboat Dr John McSparran was tasked to recover the kayaks left behind.

After a successful recovery of both casualties and their equipment, Larne RNLI helm Pamela Leitch noted: “The two kayakers were wearing buoyancy aids; they also remembered to stay with their kayaks which made it easier for us to identify them and bring them ashore.”

The second callout involved the all-weather lifeboat towing a 26ft sailing boat which had run aground at the East Maidens lighthouse.

One of the two people onboard had asked to dock close to the Maidens so they could have a look around. However, while they were the docked the tide ebbed and the boat was left on rocks.

The remaining crew member was able to use their VHF radio to call for assistance from Belfast Coastguard, who requested the launch of the all-weather lifeboat.

When Larne’s volunteers reached the boat, they found that it had moved off the rocks and that no damage had occurred to the hull.

However, it was suggested that the casualty boat follow the all-weather lifeboat into Larne to assess any further damage.

As both boats were making their way into the Port of Larne, a tow line was established as the casualty vessel was experiencing some engine troubles. The vessel was then towed to a mooring at East Antrim Boat Club.

Meanwhile, in Kilmore Quay, the local RNLI lifeboat was alerted by Dublin Coast Guard at 5.25pm that an 11m boat with two people on board had lost engine power three-and-a-half miles south of Bag-N-Bun Head to the west of Kilmore Quay.

Conditions were near calm at the time with restricted visibility due to coastal fog. Visibility was down to one tenth of a mile at times.

The volunteer crew made best speed towards the casualty vessel, arriving alongside twenty minutes later. A tow line was passed over and the vessel was towed back to Kilmore Quay, which took just under an hour to complete.

The four Easter Sunday callouts came after Saturday launches for Courtmasherry RNLI, to a Spanish-bound yacht in distress, and Carrybridge RNLI, to two boats in difficulty on Upper Lough Erne.

“Given the fantastic weather we’ve had this weekend, we’ve seen higher numbers of people coming back to the beaches and putting their boats and other craft back in the water, earlier than usual,” said Mark Corcoran, community safety officer at Arklow RNLI.

“We’d like to remind people to always respect the water, wear a lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help when going out on the water.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Youghal’s RNLI volunteers were presented last week with a cheque for €3,439.60 from the organisers of the Ardmore Christmas Day swim.

The event was first organised in 1997 and has successfully run every Christmas Day since. The swim is always well supported by the local community and 2018’s was no exception.

The swimmers met on the beach at Ardmore at 12.15pm on Christmas Day in dry but chilly conditions and made the dash into the water for a quick dip before heading back to the beach for a hot drink.

Youghal RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, Gordon and Phil, and her volunteer crew were there on the day to oversee the safety of the swimmers.

Lifeboat operations manager Derry Walsh said: “We would like to send our thanks to everyone who came out on Christmas Day and took part in the swim, and a special thank you to those who have organised the swim over the last 22 years.

“The RNLI depend on the generosity of the public to save lives at sea, and this donation will help to ensure our lifeboat and crew are always ready when they are called upon.”

Elsewhere, a callout for Larne RNLI to a suspected vessel in trouble on Friday evening (29 March) turned out to be false alarm as smoke seen rising from a vessel at the Maidens was part of a training exercise.

Paul Johnston, Larne RNLI deputy launching authority, said: “We would like to commend the member of the public for contacting the coastguard and raising the alarm. We would always much rather launch to find all is safe and well than not launch at all.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Last Thursday evening (15 November) Larne RNLI lifeboat crew and station management welcomed Geoff Johnston and his wife Caroline to the station.

Geoff’s hobby is painting and the artist presented the lifeboat crew with an incredible painting of their all-weather lifeboat, Dr John McSparran.

Geoff said his interest in the lifeboats started when he visited Donaghadee’s station when he was younger.

Having done paintings for Newcastle, Donaghadee, Portrush RNLI and now Larne, Geoff says he isn’t stopping.

“I’d like to try and do a painting for every station in Northern Ireland,” he said. “Next time I’d like to attempt one of the inshore lifeboats.”

Larne RNLI coxswain Frank Healey said: “The painting is absolutely amazing. The work and detail that Geoff has put into it, is remarkable.

“It will look fantastic hanging in our station for all the crew and any visitors to see.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Page 1 of 6

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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