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The RNLI lifeguard team are returning to patrol seven beaches along the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland over the upcoming Easter period.

The lifeguard service is also adjusting its operational hours this season from 10am to 6pm each day.

From Good Friday (29 March) to Sunday 7 April, lifeguards will be providing a patrol on Benone Strand, Portrush West Strand, Portrush East Strand, Whiterocks and Ballycastle, while they will have a patrol on Portstewart Strand over the weekend period from Good Friday to Easter Monday.

Following the Easter period, the RNLI lifeguard team working with the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and the National Trust will then prepare for the peak season in June.

A weekend service on Saturdays and Sundays on the same beaches will commence on 4 May to 30 June before daily patrols for the summer season start on Monday 1 July.

Speaking ahead of the Easter break, Michael Thompson, RNLI regional lifeguard lead said: “Our lifeguards have been working hard in recent weeks during their inductions to prepare themselves for being back on our beaches next week. This has included refreshing their lifeguard skills, doing fitness tests, vehicle courses and casualty care.

“The team is now looking forward to getting back on to the beaches and putting that training into action. Throughout the upcoming season, our lifeguards will assist numerous individuals.

“It’s crucial to recognise that their role extends beyond rescue operations; they’re also there to offer beach safety guidance. Don’t hesitate to approach them for advice, ensuring a safe and enjoyable day for all.

“Early risers will be pleased to know that they will be able to enjoy our beaches with a lifeguard patrol an hour earlier than usual in the morning with a new time start of 10am.”

Steven Callaghan, Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council added: “As my chosen Mayor’s charity during my time in office, I am delighted that council continues its partnership with RNLI and we welcome the return of beach lifeguards over the Easter period.

“Our beaches remain a valued outdoor asset enjoyed by both locals and visitors, the RNLI helps to ensure everyone has an enjoyable and safe visit to the borough and we thank them for the lifesaving service they provide.”

Meanwhile, the RNLI is urging anyone visiting the coast this summer to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following their beach safety advice:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.
  • Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks.
  • For activities like paddle boarding or kayaking, wear a wetsuit with a buoyancy aid or lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help in a waterproof pouch and keep it on you. Tell someone what you are doing, where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • If you are going open water swimming, use a wetsuit to keep you warm, wear a brightly coloured swim hat and take a tow float to store personal items including a phone for emergencies.
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
  • In an emergency dial 999 in NI and ask for the coastguard.

If you are interested in working on the beach this summer, there are still lifeguard positions available. You will receive world-class lifesaving training, enjoy good rates of pay, the possibility of flexible working patterns and develop valuable skills for your future career. Find out more about becoming a lifeguard at rnli.org/BeALifeguard.

Published in Water Safety

For the first time ever, this summer Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast will welcome the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.

Positioned in the World Series calendar as a major mid-season shake-up, the fourth stop of 2024 from 18-20 July has multiple take-off spots lined up throughout the event — a challenge that will surely test the divers to their limits.

In the opening rounds, dives will launch directly off the cliffs at both Kinbane Castle and from the iconic cove known as ‘Lord’s Prayer’. The competitors will then wrap up the final two rounds by diving from the purpose-built platforms constructed in Ballycastle Harbour.

Though the Causeway Coast is a first for 2024’s diver line-up, the World Series has previously hosted five stops “down the road” on the island of Ireland, most recently in 2021 — 180 miles from Ballycastle at Downpatrick Head, Co Mayo where the divers plunged into the rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

With coastal conditions prone to throwing challenging conditions into the mix at any given time, expect the mid-season stop to serve up plenty of twists and turns and dramatic battles, as the divers fight for cliff-diving supremacy.

For more details, see the Red Bull website HERE.

The Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland has been voted as the UK’s favourite place for wildlife.

The iconic location, best known for hosting the Giant’s Causeway, was chosen by voters in an online poll by BBC Wildlife magazine to mark its 60th anniversary.

And it was picked over the likes of the Isles of Scilly and Wimbledon Common to top an eclectic top 10.

Aside from its famed rock formations, the Causeway Coast is home to “a wonderful wealth of marine wildlife, from seals to basking sharks”, the magazine says.

Portstewart man Richard Lafferty told the Guardian: “The waters off the North Coast here are very rich in marine life because we have quite strong tidal currents and our waters are full of plankton.

“It feeds the soft corals and the sponges underwater, which bring in the small fish, the birds and the bigger predators like our dolphins, porpoises, whales and basking sharks.”

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

Lifeguards from the RNLI return to beaches in Northern Ireland this week as the charity, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and National Trust prepare and get ready for another busy season.

From this Good Friday (7 April) through to Sunday 16 April, lifeguards will be providing a patrol from 11am to 7pm on Benone Strand, Portrush West Strand, Portrush East Strand, Whiterocks and Ballycastle and from 10am to 6pm on Portstewart Strand.

Last summer RNLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland saved 13 lives, aided over 450 people and responded to over 300 incidents as over 650,000 people visit a RNLI lifeguarded beach in NI in 2022.

The RNLI works in partnership with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the National Trust and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council each year to set up and roll out a lifeguard service at their request.

Before a lifeguard sets foot on a beach, they take part in months of training. From a rigorous fitness test to learning vital casualty care skills, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment in order to save lives at the beach. 

As well as rescuing those in trouble in the water, RNLI lifeguards have to deal with multiple lost children, minor first aids including cuts and stings, major first aids including fractures and critical illnesses and provide safety advice to beachgoers to ensure they enjoyed their day at the beach as safely as possible. 

Michael Thompson, RNLI regional lifeguard lead said: “RNLI lifeguards are at the forefront of the charity’s lifesaving work, as they keep beach visitors safe across the Causeway Coast and in Co Down. Last year’s figures show the importance of our lifeguards and what they do for the public, we are expecting coastal areas to be just as busy in the summer season ahead.

“The RNLI has been working closely with the councils, the National Trust and local communities to ensure the beaches and lifeguard units are ready and equipped, and that lifeguard training has been performed seamlessly.

“Pre-season preparations have gone well, and our lifeguards are looking forward to getting back on the beaches and doing what they do best; offering preventative safety advice to visitors and rescuing those in difficulty in the water or on the beach itself.

“However, it is important to remember that our lifeguards can’t be everywhere. Our lifeguards will be supported by the charity’s 24/7 lifeboat service and water safety work, but we urge anyone visiting the coast to take responsibility for themselves and their family this summer.”

Both Causeway Coast and Glens and Newry, Mourne and Down District Councils and the National Trust invest each year in keeping their beach visitors safe by contributing to RNLI costs, which helps to meet lifeguard wages, while the extensive training and equipment needed is provided by the charity through public donations. RNLI lifeguards work alongside other emergency services and teams integral to an enjoyable visit to the beach.

Meanwhile, the RNLI is urging anyone visiting the coast this summer to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following their beach safety advice:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.
  • Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks.
  • For activities like paddle boarding or kayaking, wear a wetsuit with a buoyancy aid or lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help in a waterproof pouch and keep it on you. Tell someone what you are doing, where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • If you are going open water swimming, use a wetsuit to keep you warm, wear a brightly coloured swim hat and take a tow float to store personal items including a phone for emergencies
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
  • In an emergency dial 999 in NI and ask for the coastguard.

In addition, the RNLI is still recruiting for lifeguard positions for anyone interested. You will receive world-class lifesaving training, enjoy good rates of pay, the possibility of flexible working patterns and develop valuable skills for their future career. Find out more about becoming a lifeguard at rnli.org/BeALifeguard.

Four coastal locations around the island of Ireland are in the running to be named Ireland’s best place to holiday this year, with the winner to be announced this August Bank Holiday weekend.
 
Carlingford in Co Louth on the shores of Carlingford Lough joins Achill Island in Co Mayo, Inishbofin in Co Galway and Portrush and the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland in the list of five finalists for the Irish Times Best Place to Holiday in Ireland 2022 contest.

For more details and to find out the winner, see the Irish Times website HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

RNLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland have saved four people in two separate incidents during a busy week on Causeway Coast beaches.

Two teenage girls were rescued after being pulled out to sea in a rip current, and on the same day a man who had disappeared beneath the waves was pulled to safety along with his son.

In the first incident, RNLI lifeguard Luke was patrolling East Strand beach in Portrush on a rescue water craft (RWC) when lifeguards were alerted by a member of the public to two teenage girls being pulled out by a rip current at Curran Point, the section between East Strand and neighbouring beach Whiterocks.

Rip currents are strong currents running out to sea which can quickly drag people away from the shallows of the shoreline and out to deeper water.

Although the weather was hot and sunny, Luke had to manoeuvre the RWC through choppy waves to get to the reported location of the casualties.

Reaching the teenage girls, Luke saw they were distressed, and they were both struggling to breathe. He pulled the first girl onto the rescue sled at the back of the RWC and then assisted the second girl to climb on as she was very weak.

Luke then brought the girls back to shore and helped them onto the beach and into the care of RNLI lifeguard Emily who treated them for shock.

Speaking after the rescue, Emily said: “Rip currents are very unpredictable. You could walk out five metres into the one at Curran Point and you would lose your footing, it is so strong.

“If you are caught in a rip current, do not try to swim against it or you’ll exhaust yourself. Instead, if you can, swim parallel to the shore until you’re free of the rip and head to shore. Always raise your hand and shout for help.

“We want people to enjoy the water safely by making sure that they come to lifeguarded beaches and swim between the red and yellow flags.”

Luke added: “This rescue proves just how vital our equipment is. The girls were quickly drifting down the beach, almost out of our sight and we would not have made it out to them quickly enough without the RWC.

“Rip currents are an ever-present danger, so we patrol in the water, as well as on shore, to keep everyone safe.”

On the same day, at Benone Beach farther west along the Causeway Coast, lifeguard Andrzej had just helped bring a body boarder back to the safe area between the flags.

He then patrolled down towards the Umbra, the minor river which flows across Benone’s bathing beach and noticed two heads in the water about 500 metres out of the safe swimming zone.

One of them heard the engine of the RWC and raised his arm to signal for help. As Andrzej circled round to go to the rescue, he noticed one of the two men had sunk beneath the water.

Using his hands, Andrzej managed to pull him onto the rescue sled and then reached out to get the second casualty, who he later learned was the first man’s son. The son was struggling, but managing to keep his head above water, so Andrzej pulled him onto the sled also.

With both men onboard the rescue sled, Andrzej headed back to shore where he beached the rescue craft. Andrzej and the man’s son helped get his father onto the sand where they sat him down. Andrzej called his fellow RNLI lifeguards for medical assistance and they administrated oxygen to the casualty.

Speaking after the rescue, Andrzej said: “In the heat of the moment, my training kicked in and I just wanted to get them back on to the sand.

“It could have been a very serious situation if I hadn’t seen them out swimming, and if the son hadn’t raised his arm for help. When you swim at the beach, try to stay as close to the lifeguarded patrol zone as possible, so we can see you and get to you as quickly as we can.

“Luckily, the son knew what to do and did the right thing. If you get into difficulty in the water, lean back, stretch out your arms and legs, then call for help or raise your arm.”

Published in Water Safety

#Vandalism - Vandals have caused an estimated £800 (€900) worth of damage to an RNLI lifeguard unit at Whiterocks on the Causeway Coast.

Following two of the busiest days of the summer season so far in Northern Ireland, the RNLI team at Whiterocks arrived at work yesterday morning (Wednesday 19 July) to see that their unit, located near the entrance to the North Coast beach, had been extensively damaged.

The charity’s lifeguards discovered that the vandals had left behind broken bottles and a barbecue, while the unit’s aerial mount required for VHF communications had also been damaged.

A large rock which had been thrown at the hut damaged the unit’s outer skin, piercing the inner plywood and leaving a two-inch hole in the unit, which was also covered with indecent graffiti.

RNLI lifeguard supervisor Karl O’Neill said the damage to the aerial mount had threatened vital VHF communications, while the rock damage meant the unit was no longer watertight.

“Our lifeguards rely on the aerial to communicate with each other when on patrol and to communicate with their colleagues in the coastguard in the event of an emergency,” he said. 

“Thankfully the damage has not rendered our communications off-service but should it have, and should it have happened during the last two days, which brought thousands of people to our beaches to enjoy the good weather, lives could have been put at risk.

“It is very disappointing for our lifeguards, who have been working hard to keep people safe, to turn up this morning after two busy days and see the unit they need to carry out their job has been so badly damaged. It really does dampen spirits.”

It is estimated that the repairs to the beach lifeguard unit will run into hundreds of pounds for the charity.

The RNLI is working closely with the PSNI who have appealed for anyone with any information to come forward.

“We would appeal to those doing this damage to be mindful that the RNLI is a charity,” said O’Neill. “Our lifeguards are an essential part of what is a seamless rescue service that saves lives from the beach to the open sea.

“Our lifeguards’ primary role at Whiterocks and on all lifeguarded beaches on the Causeway Coast is to make sure the beach can be enjoyed safely by the public. We want them to be able to continue to do that safely and with peace of mind.”

Published in Coastal Notes

#Diving - A new commercial catamaran is part of a Portstewart-based diving firm’s efforts to compete with popular dive tourism destinations abroad, as the News Letter reports.

Diving is ‘big business’ for the Aquaholics Dive Centre, which provides services for big-name film and TV productions such as Game of Thrones alongside its training, sea safari and diving holiday offerings.

And it’s the tourism that such visibility brings to Northern Ireland that the company aims to capture, with its new boat just the ticket to explore more of the Causeway Coast’s impressive diving sites.

The News Letter has more on the story HERE.

Published in Diving

 An off-duty RNLI lifeguard has rescued a teenage boy this afternoon after he got into difficulty when bodyboarding in Portrush.

Conard McCullagh, a Senior RNLI Lifeguard on the Causeway Coast was cycling from Portstewart where he had been attending the North West 200 race paddock when at approximately 2pm he observed two teenagers on bodyboards in the water at Portrush West Strand.

Knowing the beach and the dangers of the water at Black Rocks, an area prone to rip currents, Conrad immediately sensed that the teenagers may get into difficulty and went to their parents who were on the shore. Conrad felt the teenagers were too far out in the water and advised their parents to wave them back in.

One of the teenagers, a 15-year-old girl managed to paddle her way in but the 13-year old boy struggled and indicated that he couldn’t get back in as the water was sucking him out fast.

Conrad immediately ran to the RNLI Beach Lifeguard Unit and grabbed a rescue board and went to the casualty and pulled him out of the water.

Once he had the teenage boy safely ashore, Conrad carried out casualty care checks to ensure the boy was ok.

Speaking following the rescue, Karl O’Neill, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor said: ‘I would like to commend Conrad who wasn’t on duty this afternoon but used his RNLI skills and training to remain vigilant, spot the danger and go straight to the family when he suspected the teenagers may be in trouble.

‘This rescue serves as a reminder to us all that while we may be experiencing some good weather we still need to respect the water. It is a sunny warm day and the water appears calm and everything looks good on the surface but the reality is there is a lot going on underneath and the water can be very dangerous. The current the boy was bodyboarding in was simply too strong to paddle against. Thankfully, Conrad was able to go to the boy’s assistance today and we would like to wish him well following what must have been a frightening experience for him.’

RNLI lifeguards are on patrol from 11am-7pm at weekends on Benone Strand, Portrush West and East Strands, Whiterocks and Portstewart. They will take up full time daily patrol for the Summer on Saturday 25 June.

The RNLI’s advice for anyone planning a trip to the beach is to respect the water, check weather and tide times before you go and if planning to go into the water, swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags. Avoid using inflatables in strong winds or rough seas.

If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 909 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Rescue - An elderly man with a suspected broken ankle was rescued from one of Northern Ireland's most popular coastal walks at the weekend, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The injured man was on a part of the Causeway Coast Way not accessible by road, requiring coastguard teams from Ballycastle and Coleraine to attend and help him to a waiting ambulance.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue
Page 1 of 3

The Star keelboat is a 6.9 metres (23 ft) one-design racing keelboat for two people designed by Francis Sweisguth in 1910.

The Star was an Olympic keelboat class from 1932 through to 2012, the last year keelboats appeared at the Summer Olympics at which Ireland's representatives were Peter O'Leary and David Burrows.

Ireland has performed well in the class internationally thanks to some Olympic campaigns including a bronze medal at the Star World Championships in 2000, won by Mark Mansfield and David O'Brien.

The boat is sloop-rigged, with a mainsail larger in proportional size than any other boat of its length. Unlike most modern racing boats, it does not use a spinnaker when sailing downwind. Instead, when running downwind a whisker pole is used to hold the jib out to windward for correct wind flow.

Early Stars were built from wood, but modern boats are of fibreglass and carbon construction.

The boat must weigh at least 671 kg (1,479 lb) with a maximum total sail area of 26.5 m2 (285 sq ft).

The Star class pioneered an unusual circular boom vang track, which allows the vang to effectively hold the boom down even when the boom is turned far outboard on a downwind run.

Another notable aspect of Star sailing is the extreme hiking position adopted by the crew and at times the helmsman, who normally use a harness to help hang low off the windward side of the boat with only their lower legs inside.

At A Glance – Star Specifications

Designer Francis Sweisguth
Year 1910
Crew 2 (Skipper + Crew)
S + 1.5 C ≤ 250 kg (550 lb)[1]
Draft 1.016 m (3 ft 4 in)
Hull Type keelboat
Hull weight ≥ 671 kg (1,479 lb)
(including keel)
LOA 6.922 m (22 ft 9 in)
LWL 4.724 m (15 ft 6 in)
Beam 1.734 m (5 ft 8 in) at deck
1.372 m (4 ft 6 in) at chine
Hull appendages
Keel/board type bulb keel
401.5 ± 7 kg (885 ± 15 lb)
Rig
Rig type sloop
Mast length 9.652 m (31 ft 8 in)
Sails
Mainsail area 20.5 m2 (221 sq ft)
Jib/genoa area  6.0 m2 (65 sq ft)
Upwind sail area ≤ 26.5 m2 (285 sq ft)

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