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There is a hidden wealth of literary talent in the North which deserves greater exposure and the book Shaped by the Sea produced by a team of volunteers in the East Antrim area is an excellent example writes Betty Armstrong

With Peace IV funding, a €270m unique initiative of the European Union designed to support peace and reconciliation, local woman Angeline King energised a group of people living in or connected to Larne and its environs, to produce what is a fascinating anthology described as ‘A sample of Larne’s Literary Heritage. That they did it in just eight weeks is a feat in itself.

Angeline had worked in international business for 20 years and decided to become a freelance writer who it is said: “will turn her hand to anything involving words”. She has managed to encourage this diverse group of participants, some of whom had never written before. to produce this 64-page anthology which throws a light of the rich heritage of a part of the country which many would associate with the ferry port of Larne and start of the world-famous Antrim Coast Road. There are stories about the town of Larne as well as Island Magee, Ballygally and Ballylumford.

Among those involved was author, nautical scribe and sailing enthusiast from East Antrim Boat Club, Tom Jobling, well known as a past Irish President of the GP14 International Association. His contribution is the fictional ‘A Leap of Faith’.

The nautically-themed stories, poems, folk tales, memoirs, and songs are interspersed with paintings by local artists Chris Gilbert and Janet Crymble and they give a fascinating insight into the life of people from Larne, Ballygally, and Island Magee area of East Antrim.

‘The Passing of the Old Order’ by Fear Flatha O Gnimh is a fitting introduction to the literature of Larne. The poet’s family (Agnew) were the chief poets for the Gaelic chieftains, the O’Neills and the MacDonalds. The other content depicts subjects ranging from mythical and real people and happenings.

The programme was part of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s St.Art project funded through Peace IV.

As Northern Ireland sailors and boaters near the announcement by the Northern Ireland Executive that will outline a blueprint for the easing of lockdown restrictions and Boris Johnson’s anticipated announcement this Sunday, the RYA is working on a range of guidance and resources to help members and the wider boating community prepare for a return to the water. These resources will ensure that boaters can return to activities on the water as quickly and safely as possible.

Since the lockdown commenced, the RYA has lobbied on behalf of its members to put forward a strong case for boating to be one of the first activities that can be resumed safely within any necessary parameters for social distancing, once we start to see a relaxation of the current restrictions. RYANI has been engaged with local stakeholders and the NI Executive as frameworks are developed.

While the detail of Government plans for easing restrictions are not yet known, the RYA has outlined the following ‘guiding principles’ that will shape its detailed response:

1. We will always follow Government guidance

The COVID-19 preventative measures are vital to protecting health and wellbeing and to minimising pressure on the frontline services. We all have a role to play by following the Government guidelines.

The RYA will provide interpretation and advice to show how the latest measures on social distancing, hygiene and travel can be applied to boating showing examples of the level of activity that each phase will allow.

As both a national and international Association, we are mindful that Home Country Governments may issue their own phased plans and measures. Additionally, as we have seen to date, local authorities, harbour authorities or marinas may also interpret guidance differently. We will carefully review any industry specific guidance that impacts on boating activities, such as advice for the sport and hospitality sectors, as well as paying particular attention to any guidance for specific sections of our community.

Where the application of Government guidance is unclear, we will seek clarification so that boaters and activity organisers are kept informed.

2. We will, as a boating community, take a considerate and conservative approach

  • Considerate: be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services.

Consider the local area and whether there is a risk that you could put extra pressure on the RNLI or frontline services. For example, are you in a very remote location? Is the area very busy? Look out for others such as families on beaches or people on other boats and think about how your activity could help or hinder them. For example, windsurfers or kiteboarders who launch from the beach should give extra space to beach users. Boaters should keep an eye out for others, and be ready to assist if trouble arises.

  • Conservative: help to minimise risk by taking an extra conservative approach to your boating.

Our guidance on safety remains unchanged: know your limits; look after yourself; keep in touch and, above all, have a plan. As we start to get back on the water, we advise boaters to take an even more conservative approach when planning to go afloat.

Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive, explains: “We share our members’ enthusiasm for a return to boating once we start to see a relaxation of the current restrictions. Getting afloat undoubtedly benefits both mental and physical wellbeing and we believe that with appropriate measures, a basic level of safe and responsible activity can be delivered to get our members active on the water.

“The decision to go afloat both for individuals and activity organisers should be based on a combination of self-responsibility and risk assessment. Our work with clubs, training centres and members will focus on the mitigation of COVID-19 risks to allow individuals and activity organisers to make informed decisions relating to their own interests and activities.

“We remain committed to representing the interests of the recreational boating community and we eagerly await the Government’s announcement on Sunday. Our members, affiliated clubs, classes, and recognised training centres will receive a further update as soon as we have reviewed the Government’s plans and their impact on boating activities,” Sarah concludes.

RYA Northern Ireland’s Chief Operating Officer, Richard Honeyford adds: “We have been working closely with colleagues across the RYA to prepare core aspects that will help organisations and individuals in preparation for announcements anticipated both locally and nationally.

“We await the publication by the NI Executive on their blueprint for specific detail that will allow further guidance to be subsequently issued. Advice will be based upon the guiding principles and appreciate the patience of the local boating community as we assess any proposals and look to ensure public health and front line services remain protected.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

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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