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Daniel Palmer of Ballyholme on Top in Topper Irish Nationals on Belfast Lough

23rd August 2021
Daniel Palmer and Julie O'Neill were overall Irish Topper winners 2021

That's the thing about an unstable weather system – testing conditions in Belfast Lough, which threatened the race programme for the Irish Topper Championships this weekend.

Hosted by Carrickfergus Sailing Club on the north shore of Belfast Lough over three days - Friday 20th till Sunday 22nd, the event was sponsored by commercial property consultants Osborne King and supported by Mid and East Antrim Council. Over those three days, the 56 competitors in two fleets of 4.2 and 5.3 had moderate winds but an awkward chop on the Friday, persistent rain and a gusty 18-knot breeze yesterday and hardly any wind for a time on the final day. The principal Race Officer was Sheela Lewis from County Antrim, BC.

But patience paid off in the end and the breeze filled in enough from the north to run two races yesterday (22nd) to complete a nine-race event.

In the 10 boats 4.2 fleet it was Tom Driscoll of Royal North at Cultra and Ballyholme, on the south side of Belfast Lough and Callum Pollard of County Antrim YC, a few miles east of Carrickfergus, who topped the table in that order, with scores never below a 5th, which were the discards in both cases. Finishing with a flourish and a first place was local girl Chloe Craig assuring her of third overall.

Toppers prepare to launch at Carrickfergus's new slipwayToppers prepare to launch at Carrickfergus's new slipway

There were 56 competitors in two Topper fleets of 4.2 and 5.3There were 56 competitors in two Topper fleets of 4.2 and 5.3

Top of the 46 strong 5.3 fleet was Daniel Palmer of Ballyholme, and he finished 5 points ahead of runner up Bobby Driscoll of Royal North and Ballyholme. Up until the final race yesterday, Palmer never dropped below third, but a big fall to 16th in that race meant he needs to discard a 16. The long journey north for the Royal Cork pair, Liam Duggan and Rian Collins paid off as they took third and fourth. And it also did for Julie O'Neill from Royal Cork, who won the overall female prize having finished sixth in the 5.3 fleet.

Tom Driscoll, Irish Topper Championships 4.2 winnerTom Driscoll, Irish Topper Championships 4.2 winner

Joining the local Northern Ireland Toppers were visitors from as far away as Waterford Harbour, Malahide, Howth, Cork and Wexford. Also on the water were safety boats supplied by saferwaters.org. This is a not-for-profit service in Northern Ireland, established in 2020 to provide a Safety Boat service for water-based community events such as sailing, swimming, paddle boarding and windsurfing, which may not have safety cover of their own or may need additional resources.

Assistant Race Officer Gavin Pollard was very pleased with how the event turned out; "Despite the challenging range of wind conditions over the three days, the championship ran very well with all races upheld with minimal recall!"

Published in Topper

Viking Marine is Ireland's official Topper supplier offering Topper dinghies and parts for sale.

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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 - Topper Championship Dates in Ireland 2021

2nd-4th July Irish Nationals at Strangford Lough Yacht Club

24-30 July 2021, Topper World Championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club

2nd-6th August 2021 UK Topper Nationals Ballyholme Yacht Club

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