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56 Lasers Enjoy Great Sailing for Ulster Honours at County Antrim Yacht Club

30th June 2021
Sean Craig of the RstGYC finished in first place overall in the ILCA 6 
Sean Craig of the RstGYC finished in first place overall in the ILCA 6  Credit: Kathryn Anderson

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

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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At A Glance – Laser Dinghy Specifications

Designer Bruce Kirby & Ian Bruce

Year 1969

Crew 1
Draft 0.787 m (2 ft 7.0 in)
Hull weight 58.97 kg (130.0 lb)
LOA 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in)
LWL 3.81 m (12 ft 6 in)
Beam 1.39 m (4 ft 7 in)
Mainsail area 7.06 m2 (76.0 sq ft)

Racing D-PN 91.1 RYA PN 1088 PHRF 217

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