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Marking what it described as a “new dawn”, an Antrim company has launched the province’s largest sightseeing passenger ferry.

The new vessel Kintra II marks a £1 million investment by Kintra Boat Tours, and the creation of eight jobs.

The vessel is licensed to carry 84 passengers, and was commissioned in August 2020 from Blyth Catamarans.

It joins Kintra I, the company’s first vessel which provides sightseeing and wildlife tours along the Northern Irish coastline.

Experienced mariner Charles Stewart and business partner Dawn Hynes set up Kintra Boat Tours in March 2020, just as a pandemic took hold. After what Stewart describes as a “choppy start”, the company has benefited from the substantial increase in staycations.

“The North coast is one of the most beautiful parts of the world, and it’s been a long-held ambition to enable locals and tourists to view the incredible wildlife and scenery from sea,” Stewart said.

The vessel was launched on Friday in Ballycastle by the North’s Minister for the Economy, Gordon Lyons and Mayor of the Causeway Coast and Glens councillor Richard Holmes.

“Today marks a milestone for the local economy, our tourism offering and for our company,” Dawn Hynes said.

“ The addition of Kintra II will enable us to create new job roles locally, and also to more than double our capacity, which is especially important for the summer season,” she said.

Kintra Boat Tours sail all year round from Ballycastle along the North coast and Rathlin Island.

The company says its vessel skippers are “incredibly knowledgeable about the geography, history and the wildlife” along the coastline and on the L-shaped island with its puffin colony. All trips also have a wildlife guide onboard.

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THE RORC:

  • Established in 1925, The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) became famous for the biennial Fastnet Race and the international team event, the Admiral's Cup. It organises an annual series of domestic offshore races from its base in Cowes as well as inshore regattas including the RORC Easter Challenge and the IRC European Championship (includes the Commodores' Cup) in the Solent
  • The RORC works with other yacht clubs to promote their offshore races and provides marketing and organisational support. The RORC Caribbean 600, based in Antigua and the first offshore race in the Caribbean, has been an instant success. The 10th edition took place in February 2018. The RORC extended its organisational expertise by creating the RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada, the first of which was in November 2014
  • The club is based in St James' Place, London, but after a merger with The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes now boasts a superb clubhouse facility at the entrance to Cowes Harbour and a membership of over 4,000