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Foiling Ballyholme Waszp Dinghy Duo Sail to Scotland and Back to Raise Funds for Jodi’s Giants Charity

21st June 2022
Matt McGovern and Bob Espey from Ballyholme Yacht Club on their charity foil across the North Channel in Waszp dinghies
Matt McGovern and Bob Espey from Ballyholme Yacht Club on their charity foil across the North Channel in Waszp dinghies

The North Channel isn’t a very enticing place when you want to sail to Portpatrick on the Mull of Galloway in Scotland in windy conditions in a hydrofoiling Waszp dinghy and even less so when you’re attempting to set a Guinness World Record.

So Matt McGovern and Bob Espey from Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough had to postpone their first attempt to do just that in a fundraiser for Jodi’s Giants, a group set up to raise money for children’s cancer charities. The focus of this attempt is the Tomalin family whose little boy Jodi was diagnosed with cancer last year.

Speaking to Belfast Live, Jodi's parents said: "Only Bob and Matt could come up with this idea! It will be some laugh watching how wet they get. We can't wait”.

The first attempt on 12th June was scuppered by strong winds and big seas but on the evening of 16th June, the boys were successful and made it the twenty-two miles to Portpatrick and back by midnight.

Bob has been a long-time sailing competitor at Ballyholme, having raced Lasers, 49ers and RS 400s. Matt represented Ireland at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the 49er class alongside Ryan Seaton, finishing 14th. He participated in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio as well.

On last Thursday evening, Matt and Bob set off with little warning in a perfect 12 -14 knot southerly breeze and arrived just off Portpatrick Harbour in 1 hour 30mins.

Matt said he is not sure if it will be accepted as a Guinness Record, but they do have a GPS record of the trip.

A view of Donaghadee from a foiling Waszp dinghyA view of Donaghadee from a foiling Waszp dinghy

But those who know the North Channel, are aware of its vagaries and unfortunately, the steady breeze didn’t last. And, as the wind and waves built, they had 18 knots with more at times and capsized frequently.

Then that was followed by no wind at all and a strong tide near the Copeland Islands off the North Down coast. So, it was a midnight finish after a 3 hours 23 mins crossing.

Bob Espey (left) with Matt McGovern and their families before the charity sail to ScotlandBob Espey (left) with Matt McGovern and their families before the charity sail to Scotland

Safety cover was provided by Safer Waters, a charity which provided safety cover for community events.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

Email The Author

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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Waszp sailing

The Waszp project was conceived in 2010 by Andrew McDougall, designer of the world-beating Mach 2 foiling Moth. 

The Waszp was created as a strict one-design foiler, where, as the class says “the true test when raced is between crews and not boats and equipment”.

The objective of the class rules is to ensure that this concept is maintained. Keeping possible modifications to a minimum ensures fair racing across the fleet, helps to reduce the overall cost to the sailor and reduces the amount of time in the workshop. 

The popularity of the WASZP has proven that the boat and the concept work. In October 2021, 1237 boats had been sold to over 45 countries. 

The top speed recorded on the foiling dinghy is 26.7 knots. 

60-95kgs+ is a weight range competitive across varied conditions with rigs knowns as ‘8.2’ and ‘6.9’.

The cost of a Moth dinghy in Europe is €14,400 inc VAT + shipping according to the manufacturers in October 2021.

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