Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Northern Ireland Dinghy Sailor Success at Howth's Youth Sailing Nationals

18th April 2023
Some of the Northern Ireland sailors at the Youth Sailing Nationals in Howth (from left) Charlotte Eadie, Zoe Whitford, Bobby Driscoll and Tom Coulter
Some of the Northern Ireland sailors at the Youth Sailing Nationals in Howth (from left) Charlotte Eadie, Zoe Whitford, Bobby Driscoll and Tom Coulter

Whether it be football or sailing, the people of Larne in County Antrim have plenty to celebrate, for the football club won the Irish League Cup on 15th April and East Antrim Boat Club’s ILCA 6 sailor, Tom Coulter began his Irish Youth Nationals competition by winning the opening ILCA 6 race at Howth Yacht Club’s four-day jamboree Investwise Youth Sailing Nationals for nearly 200 young sailors from all over Ireland. Tom went on to take third overall and his clubmate Zoe Whitford clocked an excellent 7th to take first the first girl place in the same class.

Zoe Whitford  - in the ILCA 6 fleetZoe Whitford - in the ILCA 6 fleet

And on the County Down coast, Ballyholme is celebrating a decisive win by Tom Driscoll in the 40-strong Topper class and a close second by two points was his clubmate, Cormac Byrne. 

Tom Coulter was one of the 30 competitors from Northern Ireland making the shorter trip (compared to the long drive to Baltimore for the Munster ILCAs the week before) to the Howth club, north of Dublin. In a class in which the Howth sailor and ILCA 6 Bronze European champion, Rocco Wright continues to shine, it was always going to be a fight for Tom, but he did start with a win and just before being black flagged in the last race, clocked up another, having taken three runner up slots and never falling below sixth, Tom (and EABC) will be encouraged by his performance.

Bobby Driscoll in the TopperTom Driscoll in the Topper

In the top ten ILCA 6s also were Lewis Thompson (BYC) at fifth, Zoe Whitford, also from the Larne club was 7th and first girl, and Bobby Driscoll, representing Royal North on Belfast Lough was 8th. Tom, Zoe and another BYC competitor, Charlotte Eadie, had trained in Schull from 1st April, before racing at Baltimore and then going on to Howth. As Zoe’s Mother, Lucy confessed, “it has been a busy Easter”.

Although Ballyholme’s Charlie O’Malley’s score of 22nd in ILCA 6 wasn’t outstanding, what was pleasing was that his daily efforts to help competitors haul their boats up the slip was noticed, and he was given a Spirit of the Event award.

A consistent set of results in the Toppers assured Tom Driscoll of 1st overall, but only two points behind was the Strangford Sailing Club/Ballyholme sailor, Cormac Byrne. In this class too, Emily McAfee at 5th was second girl and another BYC sailor, Katie Brow was 7th and third girl.

The Carlingford SC sailor, Lucy Ives, took 10th overall in the ILCA 4 class despite a DSQ and a DNE and the only northern entries in the 29ers, Hannah Dadley-Young, Toby Huges, Joseph Robinson and Henry Nelson from BYC in the 29er Class made credible efforts in challenging breezes for their first event in a boat requiring a steep learning curve.

RYANI was very pleased with the contingent’s performance. “All our sailors did us proud in a range of challenging conditions, including drifting with many course changes, right up to 20 knots in bitter cold wet breeze”.

Read more of Afloat's coverage of the Youth Sailing nationals at Howth here

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

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button