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Displaying items by tag: Ballyholme Yacht Club

In what will be a welcome decision by the Ballyholme Yacht Club, members will now be able to proceed, albeit slowly and patiently, towards a return to watersports.

Commodore Aidan Pounder has emailed members with the news that SportNI has specified in its Framework to guide progression towards a resumption of sport and physical recreation in Northern Ireland, that this includes swimming in open water and all forms of water - sports practised on open waterways – sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle - boarding and the use of motorised craft (in line with navigation authority guidance. He goes on to say “ I and indeed your Executive Officers fully appreciate that everyone wants to get back to some form of normality, but unfortunately, I don’t envisage this for some time. In the interim we will be embarking on a start towards this new normality with small steps, starting tomorrow (24th May) at 0900 hrs with the opening of our grounds and slipways”.

"A booking system to limit the number of sailors at the club has been implemented"

In order to make this safely workable, a booking system to limit the number of sailors at the club has been implemented within this link for 24th May, Monday 25th May and Tuesday 26th May. And within this document is the ability to book for other watersports sessions such as sea swimming, paddleboarding and windsurfing at specific times on Monday 25th and Wednesday 27th May.

In particular, sailing will be available for small groups in sessions, up to 12 can book per session, to be split between North and South parks and slipways. This is required in accordance with NI Executive guidelines. There will be no safety cover for the session

The Commodore continued “I must reiterate the guidance from the RYANI, who are correctly advocating patience to allow the necessary actions as required to be taken so that the environment is as safe as it can be for our Members, Staff and visitors”. And concludes by saying that “The Return to Water Team and Executive Committee are working hard for you and I hope that you can be patient with us as we move forward”.

In response to the pathway to recovery strategy published by the NI Executive on 12th May, the Executive Committee at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough is planning a return to water-based activities. With the dinghy parks dormant and the marina still closed, members will be rarin’ to get afloat as soon as possible.

Stay at Home is still the current advice and the committee supports the Five Stage plan. Therefore, the club approach to getting members back on the water will be based on both guidance provided by the NI Executive and the RYA. The priority will always be the safety of members and staff.

Ballyholme Lockdown 3Ballyholme during Lockdown

RYA has set up working groups and is consulting with clubs. A BYC member, Robin Gray, sits on the National RYA Return to Racing Working Party which is tasked with writing detailed guidelines for the clubs on restarting racing. A BYC COVID-19 working group will look at all club activities to assess risk, implement controls and policies, and regularly review guidelines and our procedures.

Step one of the NI Executive’s plan will allow for a return to some on-water activity which it is hoped will include sailing and will allow the slipways and dinghy parks to be opened to facilitate ‘social sailing’.

The clubhouse will not be available at this stage and sailing will be for single or double-handed boats (crewed only by members of the same household). As safety cover will not be available so sailors must be realistic about their abilities and importantly consider the sea state and weather conditions to minimise risk. Other club activities such as open water swimming, windsurfing, paddleboarding and kayaking should also be able possible under the same conditions. If all goes well and the NI Executive progresses to step two, which increases participant numbers to 10, some form of racing and cadet sailing can take place.

In the meantime, online quizzes and events for all ages have proved popular but it recognised that so much dependent on the public following the guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus and get the R number down in our community to allow us to progress through the steps.

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Yet another event at Ballyholme has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation. Richard Swanston, one of Ballyholme’s long time members and Chair of Irish Multihull Association, tells me that the May Weekend of Speed had to be withdrawn from the calendar.

As reported previously by Afloat, the weekend of 23 rd and 24th May should have welcomed a big fleet of Multihulls to Belfast Lough, racing as an Open fleet of Dart 18s, Dart16s, Hurricane 5.9 SXs and a highly competitive F18 fleet.

Also cancelled is this weekend’s Westerns at Galway Bay SC but Swanston is hopeful that the Eastern Championships at Wicklow in August along with the Nationals at Swords in County Dublin in September will survive.

Published in Belfast Lough
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Ballyholme Yacht Club was to have been the venue in early July for the huge Laser Radial European Championships but the Iatest news from the EurILCA team is that due to the COVID-19 situation and expected restrictions on travel during July and possibly August (and to help allay fears of people having to travel abroad during those months), EurILCA and Ballyholme Yacht Club have come to the very difficult decision to cancel the event this summer. This will hopefully allow EurILCA enough time to try and reschedule it elsewhere possibly in October or November at a different “warmer” venue.

Although there is virtually year-round dinghy racing at Ballyholme, the weather is too unpredictable in the Autumn for a week-long championship and the days are too short to fit in the necessary number of races.
Ballyholme has said thank you to all who applied to race there this summer; “Hopefully you will get the chance to come here in the future for a different event, or just come here on holiday – we are always happy to welcome other sailors to our club”.

In a message from EurILCA they said: “Dear sailors, due to the situation with the COVID-19, it is with great regret that Ballyholme Yacht Club and EurILCA have decided to cancel the event”.

Ballyholme Yacht Club and its volunteers have been preparing for months for this event and EurILCA has thanked them for the effort, time and energy they put in the preparation. BYC are bidding for the same event in 2023 and the EurILCA is working to find a new location to hold this 2020 event later in the season - maybe October or November 2020.

In a message, this morning event chairman Mark Mackey said “Thank you to all our supporters and volunteers who have worked on this over the past 18 months to set up what should have been a fantastic event. And to those who had already volunteered to help during the weeks of the event -there are too many to single out by name – events like these can use well over 100 volunteers – but thank you".

Published in Belfast Lough

Ballyholme Yacht Club will be the venue for the Irish Multihull Association’s Weekend of Speed in mid-May.

The club has extensive experience of hosting national and international sailing events on the virtually tide and hazard free waters of Belfast Lough and it was here in 2014 that the F18 Worlds came to town. Winners then were Gunnar Larsen and Ferdinand van West from the Netherlands. The event also attracted America’s Cup sailor Glenn Ashby ( 15/6/14).

So, over the weekend of 23rd and 24th May, the Multihulls will return in numbers, this time hopefully joined by the 49er and 29er fleets, an innovation introduced in 2018. The catamaran fleet race as an Open fleet with Dart 18, Dart16, Hurricane 5.9 SX and a highly competitive F18 fleet.

F18 Worlds Friday 11 07 2014 3825

Due to the huge interest and success the event is being developed into an annual meet in association with one of the I.M.A. Regional or National calendar events, this year the Northern Championships.

The organisers welcome any high-performance skiffs with a Portsmouth Number no lower than 900, as well as RS400s, Fireballs and 505s. This could be the event of the year, a chance to see young potential Olympic talent along with Olympians and Olympic contenders on show.

PRO will be International Race Officer, local man, Robin Gray so competitors can be assured of full and fair racing.

A full social programme is planned, and visitors will find smart refurbished and extended changing facilities which include a spacious changing area for disabled people.
There is ample car parking and with the dinghy park extension, plenty of boat space. Camping on site is also available.

Further enquiries to Ballyholme Y.C. +44 (0) 28 9127 1467 or email [email protected], +44 (0)7878 643426.

Published in Belfast Lough

Ballyholme Yacht Club was one of the first to organise winter sailing on Belfast Lough way back in the seventies. It’s called the Icebreaker and in the past, it has indeed at times involved breaking ice on boat cover.

The series is supported by Charles Hurst Jaguar and Part 2 starts on Sunday, February 2nd. But to revive the enthusiasm last Saturday the club held the first of a Pre-Icebreaker Winter Sprint Races for Toppers, Lasers, Large and Small dinghies and Catamarans in aid of the RNLI.

For the 29 strong fleet, the proposed format was six one lap windward-leeward races for the three fleets in this instance, Toppers and Laser 4.7s in the Low PY, large PY handicap and the Laser Radials and Standards.

Gusts over 20 knots played havoc with the fleets in the first two races, with some shifts downwind taking their toll. Only a couple of boats didn’t succumb to a capsize.

David Nelson won the Laser Standards. He showed his speed in the heavier airs with clear starts and it was a generally a competition between himself and Dan McGaughey in the Radial to get to the top mark first. Chris Boyd caught up on the down winds although most of the fleet were well behind the first two. After a late start and a DNF in Race 1 and another late start in the second, Mark Mackey managed to split Nelson and McGaughey in the third and then, after a clean start in the final, was first to the windward mark with a gap big enough to contend with the disappearance of the wind to allow him to finish in front of McGaughey who was the Laser Radial winner. Thereafter racing was cancelled as the wind had shut off and the Rescue boats crews were feeling the cold. The Toppers showed great skill in surviving all four races, managing to get the last race in before the wind disappeared. Some struggled with the shifting winds and one gust took out nearly the whole fleet near the windward mark in the third race. The winner was Conor Allen. And top of the 4.7 fleet was Lucas Nixon.

Only two Large PY turned out and they survived two races before they sensibly came ashore due to the cold strong winds.

The traditional ‘Mug of the Day’ went to Keith Storey for his three capsizes and wrapping his main sheet around one of the leeward gate marks.

A worthwhile exercise to encourage the fleet out again for the 10-week Icebreaker open event starting on in just a week’s time on 2nd February.

Published in Belfast Lough
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Olympian Matt McGovern returned for the final race of part one of the Icebreaker Series on Belfast Lough and showed enough class and speed in the very light winds to show the rest of the Laser fleet the way home. Nearly 40 Lasers fought hard to get away at a compressed start line made worse by a right-hand bias. A black flag on the second attempted start kept them back enough but the wind dropped almost immediately to less than 5 knots.

Series leader Chris Boyd showed his light wind prowess to get a third place and the overall win. Conor Simms tried to make it back through the fleet but finished second overall with Johnathan Henry third. Cavan Fyans had an even better race with a third-place which propelled him to Silver fleet winner in his first series since coming back after children and a PhD. Alex Ward also showed unknown light wind skills to take the Bronze fleet overall prize.

Ollie Haig has a great start in the Laser Radials but was unable to keep Joni Rock and Ellen Barbour behind him. Jess Winton had already won the Laser Radial fleet overall. Special note must go to Sara Sofia Odiso who was sailing her final race at Ballyholme - Sara comes from BYC’s twin club Andora Yacht Club in Italy and has been staying with BYC members for the last 16 weeks but goes home on Boxing Day. She will be missed by the other sailors.

The large dinghy fleet has a mix of boats with RS Aeros’ of varying shapes (including IRO Robin Gray) and sizes, Rs200s, RS400s, 505’s but they have been largely following the Laser 2000 of Dave Fletcher and Ryan Smyth throughout the series. Recent Jacques Fabre sailor Chunky/Michael Gunning with a rare showing from Jeremy Tomalin shot away in their RS400 however followed by Garth Flannigan and Brian Spence who had to retire with equipment failure.

Rob Milligan and Paul Blamphin came second overall in an RS200 with Sandra Halliwell third in an RSAero5.

Richard Swanston and Matt McMurtry were able to break away in their F18 for the win in front of series winners Adrian Allen and Barry Swanston. Special note must go to Pete and Dee McDowell who come second in their Viper before celebrating their Gold Wedding Anniversary today - how many multihull or other crews can claim such a prize.

The Topper fleet was won by Charlie O’Malley with Dan Sheriff and Charlotte Eadie following him home and in similar positions in the series. Ian Moore and his young son Aaron won the small PY class in their Mirror beating the O’Tiarnagh and Harrington teams in their RS Feva’s

The prize-giving was held after racing followed by the infamous Icebreaker dinner which has been held for over 25 years with the usual merriment and a quiz. Over 90 dinghies have raced in this years Icebreaker showing the strength of dinghy racing at Ballyholme. The Laser Radial fleet expect even greater numbers in Part 2 in preparation for the Youth European Championships in July 2020 - the second series starts again on the first Sunday in February. Many thanks were given to Charles Hurst Jaguar Landrover who have sponsored the event for the first time as well as all the volunteers that help to make the series run - on and off their water.

Published in Belfast Lough

Just as well Ballyholme Yacht Club is at present extending the south dinghy park and widening one of the launching slips because next July an entry of over 300 is expected for the Laser Youth Radial European Championships which will run from 5th till 11th July writes Betty Armstrong.

But as the event is being left unlimited up to a point, there maybe even more. The limit is set at 400 as per EurILCA regs.

The club lies on a wide sandy bay on the south side of Belfast Lough and this RYA recognised Training Centre has an enviable reputation for running world, international, national and regional events, with a superb 40 sq km racing area in virtually hazard and tide free waters on the Lough close at hand.

Among the world championships hosted by the club were the Topper Worlds in 2016 and the F18 World Championships in 2014. Lasers have been sailed at BYC from the early 1970s and the club hosted one of the first European Championships in 1979 as well as the Laser Radial Europeans in 2004.

The club’s racing pedigree has provided sailors and officials to Olympic Regattas and many other international events. Some members are noted for their expertise in the role of Race officer and one, Bill O’Hara was the PRO for 2017 Volvo Round the World Race.

Interest in competing is already picking up and entries open on 20th November. Rear Commodore Mark Mackey reports that last year sailors at Tarbert in Scotland have expressed a solid interest.

Bangor has a wide variety of accommodation including the new Premier Inn in the centre of the town, but with such a huge influx of people expected, it is advisable to make plans early. Info on the event can be found here 

Published in Laser

Week two of the Ballyholme Yacht Club Icebreaker series on Belfast Lough in Northern Ireland was quite a bit calmer than the first week. One the water at least. The previous night's activities did have an impact on the turn out on the race course and of the performance of some of the competitors !!. BYC’s centenary ball was on the Saturday night and some of the revellers must still have been dancing ……. instead of racing.

Mark Mackey and Charlie Westhurst both managed to appear for the early morning “big boat” racing but then went back to bed and missed the afternoon racing. At least Charlie showed up for Sunday tea time pints!!! The other missing competitors were the Simm’s family - John and Conor are in Portugal doing a mammoth cycle to raise money for the fantastic Pancreatic Cancer Charity. If anyone has not already done so please make a donation on their just giving page.

Champion Laser sailor John Simms was texting to find out what the wind conditions were like and he was delighted to hear that it was very light winds…… not a bad week for him to miss!

The Toppers were away first and Daniel Sherriff managed to beat Charlie O'Malley after 2.5 laps of the course. Charlie still leads overall with 3 points between them.

Only one small dinghy this week so no one for Jenny Mullan and Jonny Potts to race against!

Lucas Nixon beat Ellen Barbour in the Laser 4.7s and no multihulls again this week……… has anyone seen them?

The large dinghies had six boats taking part and again David Fletcher and Ryan Wilson managed to keep Sandra Halliwell and Rob Milligan at bay to claim another first place. The start of this fleet was very interesting and Roger Armson and Ken Green both tried to start the upwind beat with their spinnakers up. I think, in reality, they were both very late for the start!!!……. but it did look like an early bid for Mug of the day.

The Laser Radials had close racing yet again. There were a few in this fleet have to remember to sign out…… and they were handed DSQ’s. A shame with the fleet racing so close. Mind you others were handed DNC’s for just not turning up…… 

Those who did sail within the rules had a great race and David Smyth claimed his first victory in the Radial rig. Jess Winton was 3rd with Russell Finlay squeezed back into 4th place and was lucky not to be overtaken by Sara Odisio from our twin club Andorra, Italy who was breathing down his neck. This win pushes David to the top of the fleet after 2 races with Jess in 2nd and Sara in 3rd. Hopefully, the wayward souls will return next week.

In the Laser Standards, there was a very familiar pattern……. Veteran Chris Boyd relished the tricky light conditions and pulled way ahead of the chasing pack. At one stage he was nearly a leg ahead of the rest of us!!!. James Moore was the only one who was anywhere close to him and sailed a great race to claim the second spot. Richard Ramsey was back in the saddle and made an impact on his return with a superb 3rd holding off the new light wind specialist, Charlie Taylor. John Simms was reportedly gutted when he heard Charlie had such a good result in these conditions……

Ballyholme Yacht Clubs Volunteer of the year, Keith Story had a fine race finishing 5th. Not bad considering the rest of his table from the previous night did not even make the start line!. Maybe Keith was dodging some of the Jokers that Alex Ward was providing at the table!!!……. clearly Robin Moran, Alex Ward and Charlie Westhurst were not!

Unfortunately, no Mug of the Day was presented, although apart from the two Spinnaker upwind starts there were not many misfortunes to report. One person did think the Race Officer might have put himself in contention by starting the boats out of sequence…… probably another gala night related error!

Published in Belfast Lough
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Adverse weather with strong gusts in the lead up to this week’s racing threatened to spoil the day again for this week’s Charles Hurst Jaguar Land Rover sponsored Junior Icebreaker at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough. Saturday morning however brought warm weather and light winds and a fleet of 18 junior sailors in their Topper dinghies were able to take to the water for their first training session followed by racing. 

The course was set close to the clubhouse, which lead to tricky conditions in the light and shifty winds that were blowing from the shore. Race 1 saw Daniel Palmer lead from start to finish with Katie Brow in second and last year’s overall winner Faye McCartan rounding off the podium.

The second race saw a big shift on the left side of the course favour all those who had ventured in that direction seeing Daniel Palmer once again take line honours from Charlie O’Malley with Hannah Archer in third and Katie Brow staying in contention overall in fourth.

The third and final race was started in lighter winds but this time both sides of the course were even. Daniel Palmer made it a hat trick of first places but had to work this time to overtake Katie Brow who led at the first mark. Charlie O’Malley was third in this breakaway group and these three now lead the series overall.

Tight racing in the chasing pack was led by Romy Maguire ahead of Rex Claney in fifth place and Isobel Nixon in sixth.

Three of the entries were using the smaller 4.2 sail. This group is led by Hannah Bell with Charlotte Cairns second and Desi Gillespie in third. Even with the smaller sails this group were in the mix beating some of the sailors with full rigs.

The Junior Icebreaker takes place on Saturdays in October and November. Young sailors take to the water for training from a group of dedicated coaches. Training is followed by racing which is taken by these sailors as seriously as the adults in the main series on Sunday.

Published in Belfast Lough
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