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Home Pride as Tom Driscoll Wins Topper 5.3 Nationals for Ballyholme Yacht Club

11th July 2023
Cormac Byrne (49092), BYC runner-up in the 5.3 and Craig O'Neill third overall at the Topper Irish Nationals
Cormac Byrne (49092), BYC runner-up in the 5.3 and Craig O'Neill third overall at the Topper Irish Nationals Credit: Wavelength Images

It was worth waiting for. Belfast Lough having suffered the same fate as the first day of the Dun Laoghaire Regatta, the Irish Topper Nationals got underway a day late at Ballyholme on the north Down coast last Saturday afternoon after a postponement. By lunchtime, the wind had quietened to about 20 knots, which came from the Southeast, meant the sea was relatively friendly. So, Race Officer Sheela Lewis from County Antrim Yacht Club got racing underway for the eighty Toppers in separate starts for the 20 4.2s and the 60 5.3s’

By the end of Sunday’s racing, they had seven races under their belts, but the dominant sailors certainly had emerged after Saturday’s four races. In the 4.2s with four firsts was Andrew O’Neill from Royal Cork and Royal St George, and five points behind was Paidi A’Coistealbha from Malahide. Tom Driscoll from the host club and Royal North at Cultra had three firsts and a discarded 6th, leaving him 2 points ahead of Craig O’Neill Jnr (RCYC/RSt GYC), elder brother of 4.2 sailor Andrew.

Sunday brought reduced fleets to the start line. After the last three races, Andrew O’Neill and A’Coistealbha kept their first and second places, but Adam Green from Lough Erne YC in the western County Fermanagh, who had tied overnight with Rian O’Neill from Royal Cork jumped into third overall. Overall winner Andrew O’Neill heads to Spain to compete in the 2023 Optimist Worlds and will return to his home club to compete in the Topper Worlds at the end of this month.

Tom Driscoll 49099 pulling ahead of Craig O'Neill 48119 and Luke Simpson Photo: Rob ArmstrongTom Driscoll 49099 pulling ahead of Craig O'Neill 48119 and Luke Simpson Photo: Rob Armstrong

After the Sunday races, Tom Driscoll held onto first overall, but the local Cormac Byrne, who also belongs to Strangford SC, counted two seconds and a first to take the runner-up slot. Luke Simpson of CAYC kept the third slot but Craig O’Neill dropped from second to fourth.

Topper 4.2s racing at close quarters Photo: Rob ArmstrongTopper 4.2s racing at close quarters Photo: Rob Armstrong

Among the special prizewinners, Isabelle Passberger from Waterford Harbour took 1st 5.3 Youth Female and the local Cormac Byrne the top 5.3 Male. Emily McAfee from the host club claimed 5.3 Junior Female and 1st Female and Tom Driscoll 5.3 Junior Male. In the 4.2s, Andrew O’Neill took home to Cork the Ist overall prize.

Commodore Rob Milligan was delighted to see so many visitors to the club; “The club was absolutely buzzing over the weekend, and our young sailors experienced some challenging but rewarding conditions. Without members giving up their time to organise and help out ashore or on the water, these events won’t happen. Well done to all involved and thank you once again.”

Many of the Toppers who sailed in this event will be on the road again soon for the Topper World Championships at Royal Cork YC starting on 24th July.

Results below

Race Results

You may need to scroll vertically and horizontally within the box to view the full results

Published in Topper

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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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