Ballyholme has seen a great influx of RS400s to go with the RS200s already there, and has attracted some of Ulsters top racing talent, evidenced by July's two top Irish performances from Bob Espey/Mike Gunning, and Michael Ferguson/ Jeremy Tomalin at the Nationals. Whilst they will undoubtedly form the strongest teams to beat this weekend, there will be plenty of other talent tackling them, with Irish 49er Olympians Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern flying back for the weekend from Marseilles, multiple Irish Laser and SB20 Irish Champion Gareth Flannigan, and recent top youth helm at the British Nationals, Chris Eames.
All the old timers will be there, licking their wounds from the recent shoeing handed out by the new boys in the fleet. Liam Donnelly will be fresh from the UK Nationals, and always as competitive as ever, at 60 something years of age, spearheading the RNIYC charge, along with Whitehead's John Lewis, another Scorpion veteran, who will be keen to see how he goes in his first RS400 event. From RNIYC, former Squib Irish champion Gordy Patterson has been spotted practising, and seems to be getting to grips with the faster boat (though he has years of SB3ing to call on), and someday Ruan O'Tiarnaigh will get his boat out too; whilst the Southern efforts will be led by Emmet Ryan and Simon Herriott, along with up and coming Sean Cleary and Any Verso from Greystones.
Rumour has it 4-5 good teams from the Cork area are on the brink of getting 400s, which could lead to further strengthening of the fleet in Ireland, along with some good new Dublin sailors, and 5 new boats have arrived into other Northern clubs in the past fortnight, so turnouts should be increasingly strong going into 2014.
McCready Sailboats have recently been appointed as RS Boat Dealers for Ireland, following a few years of direct sales only, and are especially keen to push the RS Feva, supplying three boats for crews to test, and hopefully we will start to see a resurgence in this great youth boat next year, with their support.
The RS200s at Ballyholme will face some stiff competition from the ever strong Greystones contingent, who usually take the prizes home, and it would be great to see this class strengthening in the north as the RS Family gain a stronger foothold.
Racing in the Bay runs Saturday and Sunday, with beer and grub on Saturday and some decent northerly breeze looking set to roll in some surfing waves and maximise the craic.