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Displaying items by tag: Ballyholme Yacht Club

Investment in a two-mile stretch of Bangor Waterfront on Belfast Lough is part of the recently announced £1billion Belfast City Deal funding. Plans already published for Bangor Waterfront aim to “reconnect the town with the sea through a range of attractions and experiences”. It involves the provision of high-quality public spaces and the regeneration of Bangor Marina and Ballyholme Yacht Club. The plans say that the club “has been identified as the preferred location within Northern Ireland for major sailing and water sports events by the Royal Yachting Association”.

Ballyholme Yacht Club as it is todayBallyholme Yacht Club as it is today - the club has been identified as the preferred location within Northern Ireland for major sailing and water sports events by the Royal Yachting Association

Some of the scheme, which has been designed by Hemingway Design and Aecom, has already caused controversy. There are concerns that the character of Kingsland, the only substantial green area at Ballyholme, will be lost with the development of “tourism accommodation pods, café kiosks and a skate park (now an Olympic sport) set in landscaped gardens.

"Ballyholme Yacht Club has been identified as the preferred location within Northern Ireland for major sailing and water sports events"

There is also the potential for a small cluster of high-quality residential developments to the south of the area”. And the graphics in the Bangor Waterfront document show a landscaped area replacing the very large car park near the Club which may be to the detriment of competitors in large events hosted by BYC. The plans continue “The redevelopment of BYC would provide Bangor with a world-class facility for water sports and the ability to host international events”.

A graphic of the proposed Waterfront development at Bangor, County DownA graphic of the proposed Waterfront development at Bangor, County Down

The Club refers to the proposed new building as Ballyholme Yacht Club and Watersport Centre, to reflect its increased range of activities, which now include diving, SUPs, kayaking, and swimming.

Sea swimming on Belfast Lough at Ballyholme Yacht ClubSea swimming on Belfast Lough at Ballyholme Yacht Club

Kingsland, the only substantial green area at BallyholmeThe tennis courts at Kingsland

It is understood that the Council will publicise opportunities to engage in the whole scheme and that everyone with an interest in the scheme can become involved. Subject to financial/ project approvals and planning permission, work ‘on the ground’ will begin in 2023 (phased), with the projects delivered over 8 to 10-years.

Kingsland is the only substantial green area at BallyholmeKingsland is the only substantial green area at Ballyholme

David McMullan, who leads a small ‘redevelopment’ sub-committee reporting to the Executive Committee of BYC, has explained the Club’s position “On Wednesday 15th December it was announced that £1 billion funding for the Belfast Region City Deal had been approved. This is the first City Deal to be signed for Northern Ireland. Ards and North Down Borough Council (ANDBC) had submitted their plans for the Waterfront Redevelopment in Bangor as part of this Regional City Deal, which included the redevelopment of BYC, and we understand proposed plans have been reviewed and approved in principle. We expect to hear early in the New Year details of the funding for ANDBC’S plans and then be able to conclude discussions with ANDBC on how that will impact the proposed redevelopment of BYC. We will then present this to the membership for discussion and hopefully approval”.

The £40m funding for Ards and North Down Council will be matched by its contribution of £20m from the Council.

Published in Belfast Lough

An entry of thirteen on Saturday 23rd October was certainly not an unlucky number for Ballyholme Yacht Club's first windsurfing event, the Open Ulster Championship, as the Irish Windsurfing Association intends to include this as a ranked event in the calendar next October.

Racing for four classes was scheduled Gold, Silver, Bronze and Youth. The overall winner was Hannes Louet-Feisser who had made the long haul from Limerick (one of several who travelled considerable distances to be there).

He counted six first places and two seconds with Martin Pelican runner up with one first, four seconds and a third. First in the Silver fleet was Barry Murphy with local Andrew Gallagher second.

Barry Murphy, First Silver fleet Ulster Windsurfing Championships with BYC Commodore Aidan Pounder Photo: Catherine GunningBarry Murphy (right) first in the Silver Fleet of the Ulster Windsurfing Championships with BYC Commodore Aidan Pounder Photo: Catherine Gunning

Winds were offshore, with strong gusts and a flat sea and the fleet launched from Ballymacormick Beach on the east side of Ballyholme Bay. The club had the use of some of the car parks for the event where there was the registration gazebo and an RYA NI information tent as well as the regular coffee trailer.

Andrew Gallagher runner up in the Silver Fleet of the Ulster Windsurfing ChampionshipsAndrew Gallagher runner up in the Silver Fleet of the Ulster Windsurfing Championships

Commodore Aidan Pounder who organised the Championships was delighted with the event. "Ballyholme had about 30 people in the support team covering two Committee Boats, safety boats, overseeing the car park, and back at the Clubhouse - a mid-afternoon Barbecue. We are pleased with the compliments from the Irish Windsurfing Association and from the competitors and are delighted that this will be a ranked championship event next year".

Martin Pelican runner up in the Gold fleet of the Ulster Windsurfing ChampionshipsMartin Pelican runner up in the Gold fleet of the Ulster Windsurfing Championships

And Richard Honeyford, Chief Operating Officer of RYANI was one of the Competitors; "Ballyholme Yacht Club provided a great welcome for competitors for the Ulster Windsurf Championships. Despite some shifty conditions, well laid (and adjusted) courses allowed for eight races. Thank you to Aidan Pounder and the whole BYC team for putting it together, from set up, shore support, racing and safety. Thanks also to Ards and North Down Borough Council for their support. Everyone appreciated the effort to get good racing in."

Ballymacormick Beach on the eastern side of Ballyholme Bay on Belfast Lough will see next Saturday (23rd), the first-ever windsurfing event hosted by Ballyholme Yacht Club when the Ulster Championships competitors will take to the water.

There will be eleven races for three fleets – Gold, Silver and Bronze/Novice, in six subdivisions from Junior to Super Veteran.

The Club will have exclusive use of the Banks Car Park off Groomsport Road, and the welcome and briefing is scheduled for 1000 at that location.

The NOR is downloadable here 

Entries should be made in advance through the BYC website, and online pre-entry closes at 1200 on Thursday 21st October 2021.

BYC Commodore Aidan Pounder is enthusiastic about the event; "We have had great support from the Irish Windsurfing Association, and it is hoped that in 2022 we can host an IWA ranked event. The Club looks forward to welcoming windsurfers from all over Ireland to the Bay next Saturday".

Published in Belfast Lough

Some of the 'old hands' mixed it with the Laser sailors who had come on the scene since the birth of the Laser class at Ballyholme in 1974. The 39-strong fleet on Saturday (18th September) had a memorable day's racing the club in Ballyholme Bay in Belfast Lough.

The first of the four races began in calm, shifty conditions resulting in a second race recall due to flukey winds. The southerly came through for the rest of the four-race programme. And race officer Aidan Pounder delivered the complete programme by mid-afternoon.

Charlie Taylor (213539) one of the early BYC Laser sailors Charlie Taylor (213539) one of the early BYC Laser sailors

The ILCA 4 (4.7) fleet had just two contenders, who tied on four points - 14-year-old Toby Hughes of Royal North at Cultra and Ballyholme and Finn Neely (15) also of the host club, with the tie split in Toby's favour.


In the ILCA 6 (Radial) fleet, local 17-year-old Lucas Nixon topped the scoresheet in the 11 strong fleet after close racing and the same points (4) as the County Antrim YC sailor, Daniel Corbett, with Nixon taking first place. Jess Winton (BYC), on nine points was third.

Lucas NixonLucas Nixon

The largest fleet at 26 was the ILCA 7 and was won by a stalwart of the BYC Laser fleet, Gareth Flannigan, who counted three bullets and a second which he discarded. Flannigan has also made his mark as an SB3 sailor, previously winning Afloat's Sailor of the Month award. Runner up here was another BYC helm, Richard McCullough, two points behind. In third was the Carrickfergus SC sailor, Stephen McLernon, whose best result was second.

Gareth Flannigan (right) winner of the Laser Standard division with Ron HutchiesonGareth Flannigan (right) winner of the Laser Standard division with Ron Hutchieson

The prizes were presented by Ron Hutchieson, who was the first Laser sailor at Ballyholme and a driving force for Laser sailing across Ireland.

Speaking on behalf of the members of BYC, Rear Commodore Sailing Des Magee said," A great day out on the water was had by all for the Laser 50th Anniversary event. We would like to thank all the participants who travelled from near and far, the rescue team (including the Safe Waters crew) and the Committee boat team, who all ensured a great event on the water to celebrate the Laser 50th Anniversary. And to the large number of people who made this happen from the shore side, namely the BYC office team and the BYC Shore Committee. I hope you all enjoyed the racing and the celebrations after, and we look forward to hosting you all at BYC again at some point in the future".

Jess Winton - 1st Female Radial Jess Winton - 1st Female Radial

Joni Rock, second female in the Radial rigJoni Rock, second female in the Radial rig

Toby Hughes winner of the ILCA4 class with Ron HutchiesonToby Hughes winner of the ILCA4 class

Published in Belfast Lough

Their names will be forever associated with Ballyholme Yacht Club's Laser class. Instrumental in getting the class going in 1974 were Ron Hutchieson and Trevor Millar. Ron persuaded Trevor to leave Newtownards SC and come to Ballyholme. And Ron bought the first BYC Laser, for, brand new, the princely sum of £263! His interest in switching from motorsport to sailing could be attributed to his wife Doris who suggested that; "I should join the local yacht club as this would take up less time and mean that I could go sailing and yet be back home in time for my meals" Little did she know!

Trevor was a motivator and his and Ron's tireless work in the Seventies shows today with the fleet at Ballyholme numbering over 80. Ron says some of the highlights are "Seeing the children of the Laser sailors that I knew in the '70s and '80s now coming into the Laser Class and I am delighted that so many of the sailors on the larger boats nowadays either used to be, or still are Laser sailors". The big attraction in the 70s was that the Laser was virtually maintenance-free.

"Warriors About to Go into Battle". This properly serious-looking foursome from the cream of the 1982 Irish Laser Class, with their mentor Ron Huthcieson on right, are (left to right) Simon Brien (later multiple Edinburgh Cup winner and other majors), multiple champion Charlie Taylor (still at it in the Laser Masters), Olympian Bill O'Hara, and Dave Cummins, All-Ireland Helmsmans Champion 1981 and 1982 Credit: courtesy Bill O'Hara"Warriors About to Go into Battle". This properly serious-looking foursome from the cream of the 1982 Irish Laser Class, with their mentor Ron Huthcieson on right, are (left to right) Simon Brien (later multiple Edinburgh Cup winner and other majors), multiple champion Charlie Taylor (still at it in the Laser Masters), Olympian Bill O'Hara, and Dave Cummins, All-Ireland Helmsmans Champion 1981 and 1982 Credit: courtesy Bill O'Hara

Also, there in the first few years were Willie Forsythe, Charlie Taylor, John Stewart, Mike Kinnear and in case you think it was an all-male preserve, Elaine Taylor, who joined in 1977, as did Bill O'Hara who is among the 'old hands' planning to turn out on Saturday 25th September for the Anniversary open event. John Simms started in 1978.

The event will feature ILCA 7 (Standards), ILCA 6 (Radials) and ILCA 4 (4.7s). The warning gun is at 10.25 am with racing over Windward-Leeward and Trapezoid courses.

Maeve Donnelly (McNally) and Trevor Millar courtesy Elaine TaylorMaeve Donnelly (McNally) and Trevor Millar courtesy Elaine Taylor

Ron was Hon Secretary of the Irish Laser Class was from 1974 – when the Laser made its debut in this country – until 2017. Last year he retired as Chairman of Irish Sailing's Racing Rules & Appeals Board 

Bill reached the top of international sailing at Olympic level and ultimately held the three positions in the world of sailing competition as Judge, Umpire and Race Officer. Earlier this year he was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to sailing. 

Olympian Bill O'HaraOlympian Bill O'Hara

Just as well neither Ron nor Bill was judging in the early days at a Royal North Regatta at Cultra on Belfast Lough when Charlie Taylor got somewhat annoyed and (I saw this happening) drew alongside Trevor Miller and jumped aboard – let's say it was surprising they stayed upright! But two in a Laser was small fry compared to when Elaine set what she says was a "World Record" with 42 people on board! She does admit they were mostly young Cadet members.

Those were the days when sailors named their boats. Trevor's was Maggie Mae after the Rod Stewart song; John Simms's was Strawberry Streak; Bill O'Hara called his The Flying Fenian and he says, "I redressed the balance with my next Laser which was called King Billy". Ms Elaineous is self-explanatory, and Mike Kinnear's was Ruth.

Gillian Guinness and Elaine TaylorGillian Guinness and Elaine Taylor

Trevor Millar went on to form SailCoach in the Newtownards Business Centre and worked for the RYA. And long before the RYANI had 'Squads', Trevor started Ross's Water Sailing Squad. Elaine reminisces " Those were the days when we travelled the length and breadth of Ireland going to Laser events - Trevor towed us with his Dad's old Marina Estate, then his builder's van. Everyone camped before racing all weekend!". She continued "They were halcyon days with no cares, mortgages or pressure to perform, and lots and lots of laughs. We all made lifelong friends through Lasers, and some are still my best friends today - Gillian Guinness and Maeve McNally. I raced against Annalise Murphy's Mum over the years, Cathy MacAleavey".

Irish Ladies Laser and Masters Championships circa 1975 courtesy Elaine TaylorIrish Ladies Laser and Masters Championships circa 1975 courtesy Elaine Taylor

BYC's Rear Commodore Sailing Des Magee says that "With one of the largest Laser club fleets in Ireland, Ballyholme Yacht Club is pleased to welcome all Laser sailors to its celebration 50th Laser Anniversary Open Event on Saturday 25th September. BYC has a long association with the Laser class and a wealth of talent from ex Olympians, top Laser sailors and less experienced recent additions to the fleet. We are excited to be offering Laser sailors of all abilities the opportunity to spend a day of sailing celebration at BYC sailing amongst the greats - and the rest of us".

Laser racing today at Ballyholme Laser racing today at Ballyholme

Nearly 200 swimmers took to the waters of Ballyholme Bay on Belfast Lough in perfect weather on Saturday 28th August, marking the culmination of a very successful season of regular Monday night swims off the Club slipway.

Of the huge crowd, 50 were from the club and the rest were enthusiastic members of the public. The club, which has seen a massive increase in members who are keen to get involved in open water sea swimming over recent years, welcomed both members and visitors of all swimming abilities to this successful event which included 5k, 1500m, and 750m swims.

The swimmers were kept safe by kayaks, paddleboards and safety boats.

Open water swimming has been for a long time one of the many activities offered by BYC, and while this big event was the highlight of the season, the regular Monday night outings (which are for members only) will end next week. But given favourable weather and tides during the winter months, there may be the opportunity to run more organised swims.

Club Commodore Aidan Pounder explained: "Open water sea swimming has become very much a fixture at Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC) over the last two years, so I was delighted we were able to organise this event, particularly when we realised the level of interest from the outset with in excess of 200 competitors signing up within 10 days of registration opening. The atmosphere was fantastic with huge support from the members and visitors alike. Inglorious sunshine, our swimmers enjoyed excellent sea conditions in Ballyholme Bay as spectators watched from the Seacliffe Road and Ballyholme Promenade, cheering from the shore. Special thanks must also go to our event sponsor, Mr Ryan Smith of Dunluce Health Care."

Jessika Robson first Female 5k, with left Ryan Smith of sponsors Dunluce Healthcare and Alan Whyte Club CaptainJessika Robson first Female 5k, with left Ryan Smith of sponsors Dunluce Healthcare and Alan Whyte Club Captain

Club Captain Alan Whyte has been instrumental in the organisation and successful delivery of swimming at the Club with his team and this weekend was no different. Alan added: "We have been running Open Water Swims on a Monday night for some time at the club, but it was great to be able to organise this event, not just for our members, but for the wider sea-swimming community in the local area and further afield. I have already been contacted by so many people who took part saying how much they enjoyed the day and asking me when the next swim will be, which goes to show just how much of an appetite there is for events like this. We plan to build on the success of Saturday's event and are now hoping to organise two more events in the coming year.

Safety craft at Ballyholme Big SwimSafety craft at Ballyholme Big Swim

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the team of volunteers who were instrumental in ensuring this event ran smoothly, both on the water and onshore. We couldn't do it without them".

One of the swimmers was Melanie Qutteineh, who is swimming the North Channel between County Down and the Scottish coast as part of a relay team from Ballyholme Yacht Club, took part in Saturday's event. She said: "We have been attending the club's Open Water swim sessions as part of our training, but it was great to get the opportunity to join so many other swimmers at the 'B Y Sea' at the weekend too. It was lovely to see so many swimmers in the water, from beginners to elite, all enjoying the events, and all being welcomed by the team at BYC."

And Carol Douglas, who took part a few months after a knee replacement, said it was great to get the chance to take part. Carol swam the 750m event. She explained: "Although I enjoy a 'dip' in the sea, I decided to take part in this event to really challenge myself. I was really nervous, but everyone was so welcoming, it was great".

As part of expanding the range of activities offered at BYC, the club hosting the Open Ulster Windsurfing Championships in late autumn for the first time, another new aspect to Club activity.

Prizewinners were Jessika Robson and Samuel Wright – 1st Male and Female in the 5k. 1500m - Anna McKee and Gary Robinson and for the 750m - Catherine Markwell and Jonny Morrison

Published in Sea Swim
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It was worth the wait for Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough to stage a full-on Topper Northern Ireland Championships over the past weekend.

Sixty-nine young sailors came from the length and breadth of Ireland; from Royal Cork and Waterford in the south and Galway in the West, and even from the south of England to compete within this exciting two-day event. There was racing for two divisions, the 4.2 fleet and the 5.3 Toppers in what turned out to be, weather-wise, completely contrasting conditions on each day. And many of the fleet were first-time competitors.

Winning the 4.2 fleet was Callum Pollard from County Antrim Yacht Club in Whitehead on the north shore of Belfast Lough and Bobby Driscoll, (son of Ireland's 1996 Olympian competitor) in a 5.3 from Royal North, Ballyholme and Strangford Lough Yacht Club, was the overall winner.

The lack of a steady breeze on the Saturday forced Race Officer Commodore Aidan Pounder to postpone racing but he managed to get two completed. The next day had completely different conditions with a strong and eventually rain-laden westerly giving some hair-raising racing in a breaking sea, among sailors most of whom seemed to be able to cope with anything. But the rain has no friends among the Race Committee and having postponed the fifth race due to bad visibility when it cleared, they ironically had to abandon it due to increased winds.

Bobby Driscoll (47521) and Daniel PalmerBobby Driscoll (47521) and Daniel Palmer

In the 54 strong 5.3 fleet, Driscoll and Daniel Palmer from BYC, both Juniors, showed consistency throughout the racing and ended on equal nett points, with the tie split in Driscoll's favour. Driscoll counted two firsts and a second and Palmer the same. Driscoll also won the prize for Ist Junior Male. In the third slot was Liam Duggan from Royal Cork and he also took the prize for 1st Youth Male. In the same fleet fourth-placed Julie O'Neill, also from Royal Cork, took home the prize for 1st Youth Female and Ciara McMahon from Howth and National lifted the prize for 1st Junior Female.

In the 15 strong 4.2 fleet Callum Pollard counted a first and two seconds to finish three points ahead of Tom Driscoll of Royal North and Ballyholme, with Tyler Playfair of Carrickfergus SC third with the same score.

Bobby Driscoll, Topper NI ChampionBobby Driscoll, Topper NI Champion

Callum Pollard  Topper 4.2 NI ChampionCallum Pollard, Topper 4.2 NI Champion

Ballyholme Commodore Aidan Pounder was delighted with the success of the event: "With the pandemic forcing the cancellation of the ITCA GBR Nationals this year, Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC) approached Topper Ireland about hosting an event as restrictions eased.  Over the last few weeks, members of BYC have been very busy putting together 'The Topper Northern Ireland Championships' and were hopeful of a good turnout, given the problems Covid-19 has presented in hosting events. On Saturday we had 69 Toppers take to the water in Belfast Lough for Race 1, a makeup of 15 sailors in the 4.2 class and 54 sailors in the 5.3 class. From a BYC perspective in the competitor make up, BYC Cadets accounted for 10 in the 4.2 fleet and 24 in the 5.3 fleet, a truly fantastic figure and testament to the success of our Cadet programme driven by David Nelson and Colin Robinson. For a lot of these cadets, it was their first event, and they had everything to contend with, from very light wind on Saturday to 22 kts of breeze on the Sunday.

All the competitor sailors did remarkably well with the conditions. I was absolutely delighted to see so many Cadets from both the South and North competing, clearly demonstrating how strong our Cadet sailing is on the island of Ireland, and the great support the families have shown to sailing. I very much hope that it won't be long before we see a return to European and World events in our great sailing waters in Northern Ireland".

Published in Topper

There was non-stop activity at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough at the weekend (July 17th/18th) for the Regatta which enjoyed day-long hot sunny weather. Though lacking any decent breeze on a Saturday morning for the Cadet racing, just enough appeared to get two races. A reasonable north easterly filled in eventually during the afternoon.

In what used to be a one day sailing event, this now two-day celebration also provided races for Stand Up Paddleboarding, Swimming, and Kayaking, now all official club activities, not only for adults but for children as well.

First on the water on the Saturday morning were the Cadets for their own special Regatta, sailing in Laser Picos, SailQubes, Topper 4.2 and Topper 5.3 classes. After a postponement due to lack of wind, 32 Toppers gathered on the start line and racing got going in a light north-easterly on a windward/leeward course. The first race was secured by Daniel Palmer, with Joseph Robinson and Toby Hughes in 2nd and 3rd places respectively. In the Topper 4.2 fleet, Hugo Boyd grabbed the honours with Natalie Palmer coming in 2nd. In the second shorter race, the finishing positions were Bobby Driscoll, Daniel and Toby in 1st, 2nd, 3rd places respectively. In the Topper 4.2s, it was Hugo and Natalie 1st and 2nd again.

Ballyholme Yacht Club Cadets prepare ready to launch Toppers and Pico dinghiesBallyholme Yacht Club Cadets prepare ready to launch Toppers and Pico dinghies

In the light breeze, the Qubes and Picos found it difficult to fight their way through the Topper fleet's dirty wind. Emily-May Gillespie won the Picos and Emma Westhurst made a valiant effort in taking the Qube around the course.

The afternoon saw sail racing to which traditionally all the Belfast Lough clubs are invited, as set out in the Belfast Lough Regatta Conference information, and eleven stars were catered for the 101 boats who took part.

Winners in the NHC classes were Chris Boyd's Puppeteer Free Spirit; the Quarter Tonner, Snoopy (Martin Mahon and Joanne Hall); the Lindsay family's Beneteau 31.7, Caesium; the Sigma 33 Mithril (Mark Mackey and Andrea Fordham) and the Ruffian 23 Brigand owned by Commodore Aidan Pounder. The Mirror class winners were Ian and Aaron Moore, Laser Standard, James Moore; GP14 S Nelson, Laser Radial Jess Winton and the Catamaran F18 M McMurtry.

Anneka Hunter winner of the Cadet swim with Alan Whyte, Club CaptainAnneka Hunter winner of the Cadet swim with Alan Whyte, Club Captain

Ballyholme's efforts to expand the range of water-related activities has certainly borne fruit with many new members joining to take part in the organised Paddleboarding, Open Water Swimming and Kayaking as well as Sailing. One family, the Quittenehs, who moved back to Northern Ireland in 2019, has joined the club after taking part in the open water swimming which then, pre Covid, was open to anyone. They subsequently became members and now are involved in several club activities as well as volunteering. They found as complete beginners, Melanie says, "the support and encouragement as non-sailors in getting our kids on the water has been fabulous and we have benefitted so much since joining".

The scene ashore at Ballyholme Yacht Club Regatta dayThe scene ashore at Ballyholme Yacht Club Regatta day

Another of the Club's efforts to spread the sport of sailing among young people is the use of the Commodore's Ruffian 23 Brigand to encourage youngsters into big boat sailing. A 12-year-old helped crew Brigand in the Regatta and in Royal Ulster racing on Thursday nights, there would regularly be up to four nine- to fourteen-year-olds aboard.

Winner of the Ladies' swim Caroline Mitchelson with Alan Whyte, Club CaptainWinner of the Ladies' swim Caroline Mitchelson with Alan Whyte, Club Captain

Commodore Aidan Pounder was pleased at how the Regatta went " "I am delighted to say that another fantastic Ballyholme Yacht Club Regatta weekend was had by its Members and visitors. With 101 boats competing, superb weather and a great atmosphere, you couldn't ask for more". 

Published in Belfast Lough
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Ballyholme Yacht Club would have relished hosting the Topper Nationals in August, but sadly this event has suffered the same as the Worlds in Cork and been cancelled.

The joint Organising Authority for the 2021 Topper National Championships has been carefully monitoring the Covid 19 situation and information from the UK Government, Northern Ireland Assembly and the Irish Government. Some time ago, it was determined that a final go/no-go decision should be made at the beginning of June to allow competitors and their families time to make suitable travel and accommodation arrangements and the Organising Authority to commit resources and funds to the event.

This decision was taken due to several factors, but ultimately the safety of competitors, their families, volunteers and the wider local community was key. We hope that making this decision now it will allow families time to make alternative plans.

Aidan Pounder, Commodore of BYC, expressed disappointment that the Club isn't able to welcome the Topper fleet: "ITCA (GBR) and Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC) are very disappointed that the ITCA GBR Nationals are not proceeding in August this year. With the uncertainty around Covid-19, ongoing restriction reviews and ultimately the safety of all participants, families, friends, and all those associated with the delivery of a safe and fun event being of paramount importance, we have jointly made this decision. A lot of work and organisation went into the hosting of what would undoubtedly have been a great and successful event. I want to take this opportunity to thank all concerned from ITCA (GBR) and Members of BYC and would welcome the opportunity to host this event again in the near future. We wish all the young sailors a safe and happy summer and look forward to welcoming you to BYC in the future"

Published in Topper

Even the weather played ball for the Return to Water at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough this Easter weekend.

And there was no shortage of members keen to get afloat. Commodore Aidan Pounder kicked the day off with an early morning open water swim, and some young Laser sailors wrapped it up.

Taking the first cautious steps, the team at BYC managed to get their members safely back to the water as some outdoor sports were given the green light by the Northern Ireland Executive to recommence from 1st April. Sailing and other watersports have been included but only under strict guidelines. So currently, the clubhouse and therefore changing rooms must remain closed, but boat parks and slipways are now available with restricted numbers and via a booking system only.

One of the main differences from the reopening last year is the two households, ten people restriction, and COVID guidelines have been updated to reflect any changes. So to ensure this is safely managed, sailing slots are available in groups of 10.

Ballyholme Laser sailors out for a sail on Belfast LoughBallyholme Laser sailors out for a sail on Belfast Lough

And if going afloat in a dinghy isn't enough, there are Open Water Swimming sessions, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Kayaking and Diving. The club hopes the training will start again on 12th April, subject to continuing easing of restriction.

Commodore Aidan Pounder whose is delighted to welcome members back to the club; "On our 'Return to Water,' we have posted some guideline details which will be available to access through our website. We very much appreciate your understanding in these initial stages, which we hope will help negate any further disruption to our much-loved activities at the Club. My sincere thanks to you all for your unwavering support in our Club and I look forward to seeing you again very soon".

Published in Belfast Lough
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