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Finally some racing again on Sun 31-Mar as the Spring series in RNIYC resumed! Sunshine and a lovely 12 - 15 kts from the east welcomed the RS400 class after a few weeks of no sailing due to poor weather. Some teams even brought out the new cloth in preparation for the season ahead which is fast approaching.

The plan for the day was 4 races starting on-time given the sublime conditions and it certainly was with tight racing around the course and any mistake punished. Barry McCartin and Andrew Penney continued to dominate the series with 3 race wins showing fantastic speed downwind with the new boat of the sailed by Ross & Andrew Vaughan nicking the final one. There were loads of changes throughout the racing with Peter Kennedy & Steve Kane, Ruan O'Tiarnaigh & Catherine, Trevor Darcy & Ginge, Stephen McL & Ryan Wilson, Liam Donnelly & Sharon Doherty all showing turns of great speed throughout mixing at the front. 

Some of the leeward gate action that took place during the 4 races caused some hairy moments as boats came planning back together and heated exchanges (no names mentioned). All this certainly acts as a prelude to what we will see in the summer when the UK/Irish nationals come to Belfast Lough when there could be upwards of 70+ boats!

Now less than month out from the first regional events, Barry and Andrew look the Partnership to beat from this series and the competition need to find an extra gear over the closing races to reign them in! It’s also great to see lots of new faces and some familiar faces who are getting back into racing.

Another 2 weeks remain of the winter series, hopefully some more of the same conditions. There were a few absentees due to Mother’s Day duties – so numbers back to full capacity next week would be great. Thanks as always to PRO Gerry and his sublime team of volunteers doing marks, safety, results etc giving us the opportunity for quality racing at 2019 UK/Irish Nationals venue.

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The Second round of RS400 Frosties kicked off as the Spring kicked off on Sunday 24-Feb at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club. This event followed the Autumn Series which had some 25 boats racing and very close competition right to the very last race to choose a winner.

Results downloadable below.

This series has so far up to 17 entries entered including one local helm now flying in from UK for the first weekend back on Sun 24-Feb. However, as the picture shows it started with little or no wind on the water. This did not deter the Committee boat though who launched as they normally do and wondered why on earth the fleet were doing so much tacking/gybing practice in synchronization very slowly towards them. The real reason was due to the nature of very fickle on/off wind shifting 30-50degrees every minute all the way out.

Eventually, when the fleet got there it settled a little however even the first start was a struggle to get off the line with pockets of breeze. At the windward Stephen McL/Ryan lead followed by the new black ship of Vaughan cousins Ross/Andrew and Barry McC/Andrew. The wind clocked right and a gust came in which made reversed these placings by bottom mark and in the end Barry McC won deny the Vaughan’s new boat a first race win after late charge and Stephen McL in 3rd.

Due to the wind change staying right, the course was relaid and although still v shifty was at least a Windward/leeward course. This time Barry McC/Andrew pulled away from the start to win with a handy lead with another newcomer Ruan O’T/Kat in 2nd and Tom P/Rory in 3rd. Notable performance form Brian Holmes who was 2nd most of way round but got caught out by a gust from other side last downwind but still came in 4th.

3rd race of day again still v shifty and R400 professional Liam D/Rick showed the way in this one to win 3rd race on 1st day just like in Series1 followed by Paul R/S with great performance in 2nd and Helmsman champs Peter K/Stephen in 3rd.

The next week for Day 2 on 3rd Mar the fleet hoped for more steady winds however that is anything how it turned out with more snakes & ladders racing with light/shifty winds again the state of play.

Race 4 and 5 resembled each other slightly with 40deg left shift at starts causing carnage down the pin-end and many top boats caught out further down pan at times. Race 1 included a 180-deg shift on 2nd lap but still allowed Stephen McL/Ryan to win leading from start with Sam P/Sharon (missing the first week) coming in 2nd and Barry McC/Andrew recovering to 3rd.

In race 5 Trev D’Arcy/Ginge bullied their way off the pin-end best to win the race with Stephen McL/Ryan staying steady in 2nd and the famous Dr Cheyne standing in with Stephen K for 3rd.

Race 6 the fleet got away more cleanly and this time Ed Cody lead at windward after picking a nice gust on the right with a lot of boats stranded left. Barry McC/Andrew followed and gybe-set to overtake staying in pressure and as race was shortened in end they ended in 1st with Sam P/Sharon keeping most consistent in 2nd and Tom P/Rory in 3rd.

Racing starts each Sunday at 1 or depending on rugby and Race officer dinner reservation plans and runs for a total of eight weeks with the last on 14-April. 

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The annual RS 400 Spring Series resumes again this Sunday (24th) at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club. This event along with its precursor the Autumn Series has enjoyed remarkable success at the Co. Down Club, with some 25 boats entered for the Autumn series and 18 expected for the Spring Series.

"This sprint racing format both for the Autumn and Spring Series have proved very popular for us RS 400 sailors, we are drawing competitors from all over the place, we even have one helm flying in from England at the weekends just to compete", organiser Robert Hastings said.

"RNIYC is to host the RS 400 UK & Irish Nationals in August"

The Spring Series should prove for very useful training for all those RS 400’s as RNIYC is to host the RS 400 UK & Irish Nationals in August 25th-29th.
Racing starts this Sunday at 1pm and runs for 8 weeks.

The racing is run by a team at Royal North, headed by Gerry Reid as the race officer. They are dedicated to go out every Sunday for the eight weeks of the series sometimes in freezing conditions just to give us multiple very competitive races. We have watched both the Autumn and Spring series grow in the past ten years to the success it has today.

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Sunday 23rd December was the final day of the RS400 Frostie Series at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club and it bulged with excitement as there was barely a cigarette paper between the top two boats never mind the rest of the baying pack who were having their own personal battles.

The previous weekend’s racing was canned due to no wind so after 18 races, Bob Espey & Richie McCullough were only two points ahead of Barry MacCartin & Andrew Penney and they were both clear ahead of last year’s winners Paul McLaughlin and Owen McKinley. Whoever won the day was going to go home with the Trophy.

Racing had been brought forward an hour to squeeze in our Christmas Dinner & prize giving after racing. As we arrived in the boatyard the breeze wasn’t looking promising as spinnakers hung limply but slowly but surely they started to flap and so it was game on! We had a light westerly to play with enough to race that didn’t half bend about all afternoon. Twenty boats turned up to the start line and it was a slow drag race up to the first mark. Chris Penney & Jess Rutherford were very quick out of the blocks followed by Barry and Andrew. The first downwind leg was a test as a few boats decided to gybe off to the left but the wind bent so much that the boats that stayed on the right lay line and soaked deep were able to make the right-hand gate mark in one. This paid off for Bob Espey and Richie McCullough as they were in 5th and managed to race past the leaders. For the second uphill battle, Bob & Richie managed to sit on top of Barry & Andrew so that Oli Loughead & Tiff Brien, Robert Hastings & Rory Higgins and Stephen McLernon & Ryan Wilson came into the mix. Bob & Richie kept hold of the lead until the bitter end closely followed by Chris & Jess in 2nd and Barry & Andrew recovering to 3rd.

Onto race two and before it had even started the whole bay was entertained by a discussion between Bob Espey and Barry Mac. At this point this correspondent and crew were too busy working out how to start a race without being thirty seconds late to hear, but others say it was down to who they thought were the best celebrity dancers on Strictly Come Dancing! You would think they would pick a better time to discuss such things but after a slight mark repositioning the race got underway. This time Chris & Jess lead from start to finish with Paul McLaughlin & Owen McKinley waking/sobering up and getting 2nd and Sam Pickering and Sharon Doherty in 3rd. Barry & Andrew took 4th. Bob & Richie had a hard time as they had a collision with Stephen & Ryan which resulted in turns for them which meant they slid down the result sheet to 8th. This left it pretty much all square for the final race and for the trophy.

The start whistle was blown and then a second which meant there were boats over the line. Four boats went back to the start which included Bob Espey & Richie McCullough to regrettably find out later it wasn't them at all wasting valuable time. This time Barry “consistent” Mac & Andrew managed to get out into the lead and extended throughout to take the race win followed by Chris & Jess (who then discovered they were the OCS boat) so Sam Pickering & Sharon Doherty took second and Hammy Baker & Stevie Kane took third. Sadly for Bob & Richie, they were unable to recover enough coming seventh in end. A testament to the very tough fleet as this combo have picked up most trophies around the country.

So what did that mean for the final results? Paul McLaughlin & Owen McKinley from Cushendall took third, Bob Espey & Richie McCullough from Ballyholme took second and the Winners of the Trophy were Barry Mac from Cushendall and Andrew Penney from Carrickfergus.

At the prizegiving, the majority of fleet stayed and our Race Officer Gerry Reid thanked all the competitors who took part in the event. This includes many whom travel from far and wide to compete in what can only be described as the best two-person dinghy racing in Ireland at present. In total, the fleet for event boasted 26 boats and the numbers keep growing. The Vaughan cousins have just purchased a fresh ship to join the party as has Sam Rutherford (Jess’s brother) become a proud owner of an RS400 after it was delivered to him by Santa and there are more in the pipeline. Gerry also thanked volunteers who go to make the series happen, from rescue crews, mark layers, committee boat helpers and to Jack Anderson who compiles the results. They turn up each week to let us sailors have fun and it is greatly appreciated. Lastly, he thanked Bosun Bob’s Chandlery, the RS agent who provided the sponsorship and all the trophies. Gerry too was presented with a bottle of whiskey for all his well earned hard work.

Onto next year and the fleet are getting a short winter break before racing starts off again at RNIYC for the RS400 Winter Series Part Deux which starts Sunday 24rd February for eight weeks. Shortly after this, the fleet will be heading to the Easterns at Greystones over 27th & 28th April for the first of the Irish Travellers Series. The main event this season will be the combined UK & Irish RS400 National Championships which are happening at RNIYC from 25th-29th August 2019.

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The RS400 crews gathered in the boatyard, scratching their heads considering if it was even worthwhile bothering to take the covers off as there wasn’t a breath writes Bob Hastings. The 420s were out drifting about and it looked like a day to go home and do something else, but just before 1 pm a westerly breeze started to fill in and everyone started to get ready. The breeze was lovely, a good F3-4 straight down the lough from Belfast.

Download overall results to date below

Gerry and his team didn’t waste time and they got the course set and the sequence underway. The first attempt resulted in a general recall and everyone returned to the start. The second start saw the fleet get away and the race course was evenly split. At the first mark, it was between Bob Espey & Hammy Baker and Stephen McLernon & Ryan Wilson. The downwind leg was confusing as it looked like there was more breeze to the left but if you kept right and stuck to the lay lines you would make the gains and this really split the fleet up. There was enough breeze that a few boats capsized. At the end, Barry Mac snuck past Stephen McLernon and but couldn’t get past Bob Espey who took the win.

In race two the course had to be reset as the wind was turning more to the west. Everyone got away cleanly and it seemed best to stay to the shore side of the course both up and downwind. Trevor D’Arcy & Ginge in Heavy Load, previous winners of the series put in a good result and came second, with Bob Espey & Andrew Baker taking the win. Liam Donnelly had a port-starboard incident with Tom Purdon which resulted in him doing turns like a good sport, but it really didn’t help his results.

By race three the wind started to fade away and the drizzle came in. Again the course had to be changed and thankfully shortened. It was frankly cold and miserable and the tail tails were sticking to the sails. Last week’s leaders Paul McLaughlin & Owen McKinley got a bit too keen on the start line and got an OCS which for them wasn’t ideal. The race got underway and this time featherweight Barry Mac & Andrew Penny drifted around the course fastest and took the win with Bob Espey and Liam Donnelly not too far behind.

With some of the usual suspects not in attendance and some dodgy results, this week the leaderboard is all change. With only a small number of discards, it pays to turn up, sail well and not to get into any bother. Before discards, Liam Donnelly & Rick McCaig would be leading but sadly for them, it doesn’t work that way. Last week’s leaders Paul McLaughlin & Owen McKinley had a bit of a shocker this weekend so they have been kicked off the top so after 15 races, Bob Espey & Richard McCullough are in the lead, followed by Barry Mac & Andrew Penny in second, Paul McLaughlin & Owen McKinley in third, closely followed by Liam Donnelly, Trevor D’Arcy, Peter Kennedy. There are nine more races scheduled so there is plenty of time for others to get to the top of the table.

So far this series we have had 26 boats take part which is fantastic for any class of boat. Next week there are rumours that Ross Vaughan will be turning up with his rather fresh RS400.

Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club is hosting the combined UK & Irish RS400 Nationals from the 25th – 29th August 2019.

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Sunday 25th November was the fourth day and halfway point of the Frosty series at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, 23 RS400s hit the start line, easterly 16-27 knot wind with big waves made for entertaining racing in an extremely tight fleet on Belfast Lough.

The first race kicked off with a clean start, with everyone was well mannered, a steady 16knots kept the whole fleet tight, Barry McCartin and Robert Espey reigniting their revival from the previous week out in front at the end of lap one, followed by Sam Pickering in third. the final downwind was tight with anyone of the top 8 still in contention, Sam Pickering showed once again his downwind speed and took the honours in race 1, with Robert Espey 2nd, Paul Mclaughlin third, notably Barry McCartin losing six places on the downwind leg.

With a pin end basis and conditions building in race 2, the start line was more congested resulting in OCS’s for both Olly Lockhead and John Driscoll. Barry McCartin had the best start and put in a dominant performance on his way to winning the second race, Robert Espey in 2nd and Liam Donnelly, who displayed serious speed coming from 7th on the last downwind to finish in 3rd. showing Paul McLaughlin 4th, Tom Purdon 5th and Neil Calvin 6th how it’s done.

Simon Hutchinson’s bent mast tells the story, as the strengthen conditions picked up to 27 knots. This made for hard upwinds and thrilling downwinds, Robert Espey showed his class to win race 3 comfortably ahead of the chasing pack of Barry McCartin in 2nd, Paul McLaughlin in 3rd and Olly Lockhead in 4th.

Great race organisation, conditions and competition made for another excellent day on the water. With Sam Picking up a win, it now means there has been 7 different race winners in 12 races, highlighting how close and competitive the racing is.

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Sun 18th Nov was the third day of Belfast Lough's RS400 Frostie Series at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club in what has become the biggest doublehanded fleet in the country winter racing with 22 boats on the water and 3x420s joining the fun as well.

The conditions were ideal with 11-18 knots through the day with an easterly direction incl some 30-degree shifts providing some swell giving epic sailing for these need-for-speed power-hungry boats & sailors to provide close, fast, place-changing sailing.

The first race the fleet were so keen the OOD had no option but to pull back the fleet due to their indiscretions and go with a black flag. The second time they got away in a fresh breeze coming from Scotland providing hiking conditions in gusty/shifty conditions. Dr Bob, Sam Pickering, Paul McL were in the hunt first lap but with big gains to be made on the downwinds other boats came into it making exciting racing. In the end, Dr Bob held on after a late charge last downwind from Barry McCartin and Bosun Bob Hastings to come in 2nd and 3rd. 

The second race got away first time and Sam Pickering lead from Dr Bob & Hammy Baker. By the second lap there was still nothing in it among the top 10 and on last downwind McCartin called the last gybe layline just right to come through for the win over Sam and Dr Bob in 2nd/3rd.

The third and final race got away first time again (for the 3rd start according to OOD all boats hitting the line a sight to see) except for an individual recall for the overkeen Dr Bob. Chris Penney lead with Mr D'arcy and numerous others in hot pursuit in strengthening conditions allowing full planing. At the bottom BMcC, CP, D'arcy and Dr Bob making a heroic recovery all lead at various stages but in the end Dr Bob got it for 2nd win of day followed by BMcC and CP. Paul McL still leads the series after some boat trouble today breaking wing-wang in 2 races but for the 3rd stole a boat from an Olympian and even being late came home 11th to keep just ahead of Olly & Tiff and steady-eddies D'arcy & Ginge in 3rd with 1st discard in play. Results below.

It was the best weekend so far racing in superb conditions for all concerned with numerous passers-by on the shore commenting at the sheer number and speeds of the 400s racing only 200 metres from the shore The 4th weekend continues on Sun 23 November with notions of certain members from host club interested in getting a boat to join the fun we could soon be hitting 25 boats!

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The start of the RS400 winter racing season begins at 2pm on Sunday at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on Belfast Lough. The annual RS400 Frostie Series, has grown over the years and this year the club expects to have over twenty boats lining up on the start line which is great for any double-handed class.

There will be three back to back races every Sunday. The beauty of it is that the races are short sprint style windward leeward’s with only two laps which makes it fun and exciting. The racing will go right up until Sunday 23rd December where the winner will be crowned and presented with the Trophy.

"The annual RS400 Frostie Series, has grown over the years and this year the club expects to have over twenty boats lining up"

Past winners have included Liam Donnelly & Rick McCaig, Trevor D’Arcy & Ginge, Robert Hastings & Rory Higgins and last year Paul McLaughlin and Own McKinley from Cushendall picked up the Bosun Bob’s Trophy.

So who is also in the mix this year? Bob Espey is getting in back in the saddle joined by Richard McCullough. Bob is a past winner of many of the regional events and one to watch. Barry Mac who has been dabbling with Fireballs, is joined up front with Andrew Penny. Chris and Jess Penny have a fairly fresh boat and aim to have the fleet behind them. Tiffany Briens & Oli Loughhead are joining forces this year and they have reportedly been out practicing. Hammy Baker will be back and has a newer boat. Sam Pickering, new to the fleet this year will be joined by Simon Martin. Peter Kennedy & Stevie Kane fresh from winning the “All Ireland Sailing Championships” are hoping to put some manners on the young bucks. 

RNIYC will be hosting the UK & Irish RS400 Nationals in August 2019, many crews have this well in their sights so will be using the Frostie Series as good practice. It is expected there will be one more boat purchased before the year is out.

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#RS400 - Alex Barry and Richard Leonard finished third in the RS400 Europeans at Weymouth this week.

The Cork Harbour duo completed an international podium, with Stewart and Sarah Robertson of Scotland taking the win and Francisco and Teresa Lobato of Portugal in second.

Sailing was very tight throughout the five days of racing for the 71-boat fleet, with Barry reporting that any one of five boats was capable of taking the event in the last race.

Notable entries included double Olympic silver medalist and Volvo Ocean Race winner Ian Walker, who was ninth overall.

Robbie O’Sullivan and Phil McGlade were the other Irish boat traveling, with a 33rd place finish in the Gold fleet. Full results are here.

The event was part of the wider RS anniversary games, which will see 2,000 sailors take to the water at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy by the end of this month.

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Event number two of the 2018 RS season happened over the bank holiday of 5/6 May in Rush Sailing Club, North Co. Dublin to host the Eastern Championships for RS400s/200s/Fevas.

In total there was 30 boats entered with many other in support for the event to sail at the rumoured best kept sailing venue secret on the East coast and very accessible for everyone to get to with lots of space and camping facilities to go with.

Forecasts for the weekend seemed to promise first signs of summer for the country and this was exactly to be the case as by about 12pm a sea breeze started literally rolling in with waves from the South to boot. PRO Richard Kissane sent the fleet out the river for first some tacking practice &then 3 races in the building and fantastic conditions.

"with notable absentee Alex Barry and Richard Leonard the question was who could step up?"

There were many runners and riders for the event but with one notable absentee Alex Barry and Richard Leonard the question was who could step up?

In conditions 15-18knots racing got underway and local legend  Alan Ruigrok & Max McKnight stormed away to show the fleet they were in the mood. Gareth Flannigan & David Fletcher pulled in a 2nd with moving up from school in the 200s Neil Spain & Ross McDonald coming in 3rd.

In the second race Alan Ruigrok & Max McKnight lead again but Neil Spain & Ross McDonald got them downwind to take win with Barry McCartin & Andrew Penney 3rd. The final race Alan Ruigrok & Max McKnight blitzed away again to take bullet, Gareth Flannigan & David Fletcher 2nd & Neil Spain & Ross McDonald 3rd. Racing among the boats was so tight with many photo finishes required throughout the 3 races and the big waves taking a few victims as they fell in downwind.

In the 200s Cian Jones & Luke McGrath revelled in conditions for 3 bullets. Aaron Jones & Katie Kane not far away with 3 2nds and Ben Ferris & Peter Darragh completing the over night top 3. In the Fevas Lily Thorup & Sibeal Nic Giolla Coda dominated with 3 firsts - followed by Matthew McClernon & Erin McClernon with an equally consistent 3 2nd places and Alannah McGuire & Rachel Keane completing the over night top 3.

Everyone retreated ashore in awe of a great day sailing and first pints were flowing by 4pm to make things even better. The club staged a great BBQ, bar and band to keep everyone entertained. 

Day 2 lead to a slight postponement as some fog came in before fleet were sent out in a building 11-14 knot breeze. More tacking practice out the harbour and soon enough course was laid and races began. In the first race the racing was super close with only 1min separating the top 10 by finish but Gareth Flannigan & David Fletcher won squeezing Alan Ruigrok & Max McKnight into 2nd, Neil Spain & Ross McDonald 3rd. The 2nd race wind picked up slightly again giving more surfing conditions. This time Alan Ruigrok & Max McKnight won after a very tight battle with Paul Mclaughlin & Owen McKinley with Barry McCartin & Andrew Penney in 3rd. This secured the event for Alan Ruigrok & Max McKnight but places behind were all to play for especially given retirement due to unfortunate toe-strap break on Gareth Flannigan & David Fletcher's boat sending them home early.

This time Paul Mclaughlin & Owen McKinley sailed a great race only for Alan Ruigrok & Max McKnight (sailing on anyway) to come from way back as the wind got light and patchy to steal it at the death. Neil Spain & Ross McDonald came in 3rd. This made the final results as follows: Alan Ruigrok & Max McKnigh in 1st with a near flawless scoreline, Neil Spain & Ross McDonald 2nd, Paul McLaughlin & Owen Mckinley in 3rd, Barry McCartin & Andrew Penney 4th &and Gareth Flanagan & David Fletcher in 5th.

The 200s had closer racing as few more boats get in the mix including another Ruigrok Erica Ruigrok & Lauren O'Hare to mix in the top 3 - standing head and shoulders above... her crew with very well practised capsize technique. But in the end Cian Jones & Luke McGrath added 3 more wins to make a perfect scorecard and win Boat of the weekend followed by Aaron Jones & Katie Kane in 2nd & Ben Ferris & Peter Darragh 3rd.

In the Fevas, Alannah McGuire & Rachel Keane upset the pecking order with a win in the first race of the day. Matthew McClernon & Erin McClernon secured the top spot in the next 2 races giving them the series overall relegating the dominant Lily Thorup & Sibeal Nic Giolla Coda to second overall.

A great credit to PRO Richard Kissane and Race Committee who ran the races like clockwork both days setting perfect courses with his mark-team to keep to the schedule and get in 6 races over the weekend. Also to all the organisers, shore teams, canteen personnel and BBQ legends and of course the bar personnel keeping the fleet well oiled long into the night. 

And to answer rumour at the top of report, after such an amazing weekend all round, the entire fleet would agree Rush as one of best venues for sailing, hospitality, great craic and one that everyone will talk about for a long time. 

The next event is the RS National Championships on 6-8 July, being hosted by Ballyholme YC in conjunction with the Bangor Town regatta for big boats to make it even larger still.

Entry is Open with a lot of planning in place by a club who are well know at running big events and last time they hosted RS championships there was 50 RS400s on startline so let's hope for even more still so certainly not to be missed!

1st Alan Ruigrok & Max McKnight
2nd Neil Spain & Ross McDonald
3rd Paul Mclaughlin & Owen McKinley

1st Cian Jones & Luke McGrath
2nd Aaron Jones & Katie Kane
3rd Ben Ferris & Peter Darragh

1st Matthew McClernon & Erin McClernon
2nd Lily Thorup & Sibeal Nic Giolla Coda
3rd Alannah McGuire & Rachel Keane

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