Wonderful conditions bring out the yachters

Wonderful conditions bring out the yachters

18 July 2018

THE biggest event in the Strangford Lough sailing calendar kicked off on Thursday night as the annual Bar Buoy race set the scene for four days of fabulous racing on the lough.

As fantastic summer conditions continued, almost 70 hopefuls lined up on the start line to race to the Bar Buoy at the entrance to the lough, turning to punch tide as they raced back to the finish line on the Strangford shore.

With the tide still ebbing for most of the race, tactics were all important, and only the bravest would take their yachts close enough to land to escape the current and get home first.

Rock hopping definitely paid off for Peter Holden in his flying Farr 36 as, despite running aground just yards from the finish line, he got free in time to take first place overall in the big boat IRC1 class. 

The IRC2 class went to Brian Corry in Tuppence, just four seconds ahead of Stephen Lynn’s Mipaal, while in NHC1, local knowledge paid good as Danny McAlea steered Scampede home ahead of the rest.

Curran and Swail also scored one for Portaferry as they took honours in the NHC2 class while club mates Shane McCarthy and Brian Fitzmaurice lifted top spot in the highly competitive Flying 15 fleet.

A great turn out of the classic Rivers and Glens from Strangford Lough Yacht Club saw Corin MacKenzie finish first in Glen Moyle, while the almost unbeatable Kenny Smith in Laragh took the River class by storm.   

The Ramsey/Findlay team powered Self Expression home in the larger of the two restricted sail classes, while Shane Cooke’s Diane showed the opening race would be the shape of things to come in NHCRS2.

Strangford Sailing Club, despite being in the process of a major rebuild after their tragic fire, hosted a fantastic night for all competitors and winners and losers alike partied long into the night.

Strangford Sailing Club regatta started at lunchtime on Friday, with glorious sunshine, but light winds, the order of the day.

For those nursing sore heads from the night before, it was a gentle start to the actual Narrows event, but a nightmare for race officer Gerry Reilly as he searched for wind across the lough.

As sailors searched for the strongest tide and breeze, it was a game of chance which paid off for some of the visitors to the event, including RUYC’s Starflash, who grabbed a third place in IRC2.

Jim Cartwright’s Daydream Believer from Liverpool Sailing Club also did well, beating some of the best of the local IRC1 fleet with a fourth, while Lough Neagh’s Stuart Harrison in Quintessential, powered home in front of the eleven-boat Flying 15 fleet to show that sometimes local knowledge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 

Glorious sunshine prevailed on Saturday for Portaferry Town Regatta, but life got more exciting for the competitors, with gusts up to 20 knots testing even the best as the spinnakers were hoisted on the way down the lough. 

Race officer John McAlea was faced with the challenge of setting a course that would keep the competitors occupied as they raced off in the strong breeze, keeping them afloat until the tide turned to bring them back to the finish line at Portaferry marina.

The PSC team were determined to make their mark with Peter Lawson and Brian Fitzmaurice in fFrigit winning the Flying 15 class, while Curran and Swail’s Escape made it two for the home team in NHC2.

SLYC however were up for the challenge and took pole position in five of the ten classes, including Brian Corry’s Tuppence ahead in IRC2, Gordon Hamilton’s Naparima winning NHC1 with the Harwood’s Green Ginger in first place in the NHCRS1 class.

With all to play for in many classes, on Sunday the summer turned from Indian to Irish and the stalwart Joy and Tara Wilkinson employed every measure to keep the results dry as the rain poured down throughout the finish.

Rain did not deter the celebrations, however, as Portaferry Sailing Club hosted their 50th anniversary regatta, with John McAlea and his team toasting the event with champagne as the starters got underway.

In the IRC1 class, Movistar Bleu snatched the victory from Ernie Kelly’s What’s the Rush II, winning by just 7 seconds, while KYC clubmate Simon Watson in Volante claimed victory in the Squib class.  Making a mark for EDYC, Stephen Lynn’s Mipaal took honours in IRC2 while QYC’s Hammy Baker claimed top spot for the Flying 15s. 

Of course, the future of sailing on Strangford Lough depends on the young sailors, who also enjoyed three days of highly competitive sailing in Castleward Bay, under the watchful eye of race officer Jane McMeekin.

With seven races in total over the three days, there were plenty of opportunities to grab a prize in many of the classes. 

In the large Dinghy Handicap class, Adam Fermor from SLYC provided a challenge for EDYC’s not so junior Richard Ramsey, who as usual won the event, but only two points clear of Fermor in second. 

Tight racing in the Laser Radial class saw Emma Greer from SLYC slide ahead of SSC’s Evie McLaughlin, while a toughly contested Laser 4.7 class saw Aimee Cushley from SLYC finish on equal points with KYC’s Anna Rose Kelly, the former taking the overall prize on countback alone.

As usual the biggest class at the event was the Topper class, and an incredibly slick performance from SSC’s absolutely unbeatable Colin Crichton placed him resoundingly at the top of the pile with seven wins in seven races. KYC’s Sarah Kelly made up the best of the rest grabbing a clear second overall. 

Charlotte Ash from QYC won the Topper 4.2 class, while Victoria Eames from SLYC came second, and in the Optimist class it was an SSC one and two, with Toby Coole ahead of Violet McLaughlin.

All in all, a great weekend of sailing was had by both juniors and adults alike and with almost 100 boats competing over the course of the weekend, this has been one of the best Narrows in many years. 

Congratulations go to the organising clubs for all the hard work in delivering a great event.

Overall results

IRC1: 1st Movistar Bleu, Raymond Killops; 2nd Shark Bait, Darren Martin; 3rd Go to Red, Peter Holden.

IRC2: 1st Mipaal, Stephen Lynn; 2nd Starflash, Colin Coffey; 3rd Signet of Kip, Stevie Martin.

NHC1: 1st Naparima, Gordon Hamilton; 2nd Katerina, Patrick Storey; 3rd Scampede, Danny McAlea.

NHC2: 1st CockaHoop, McGimpsey/Pollock; 2nd Escape, Curran/Swail; 3rd Shanty, Billy White.

Flying 15: 1st Flapping Eagle, Brian Bailie; 2nd ffrig-IT, Peter Lawson; 3rd See You Later, Hammy Baker.

River: 1st Laragh, Kenny Smith; 2nd Quoile, Russell Skillen; 3rd Gweebarra, Messrs Cunningham, Marten and Brooks.

Glen: 1st Moyle, Corin MacKenzie; 2nd Lark, Richard Aiken; 3rd Iris, Henry Anstey.

Squib: 1st Volante, Simon Watson; 2nd Slipstream, Robert Marshall; 3rd Nimrod, Warren Cannon.

NHCRS1: 1st Green Ginger, Rick and Maria Harwood; 2nd Check Mate, Danny Breen; 3rd Evenflow, Stuart Cranston.

NHCRS2: 1st Diane, Shane Cooke; 2nd Backdraft, Kyle and Sharon Bolton; 3rd Unlami, Sharon Edwards.

Dinghy Handicap: 1st Richard Ramsey, 2nd Adam Fermor, 3rd Peter Ramsey.

Laser Radial: 1st Emma Greer, 2nd Evie McLaughlin, 3rd Philip Crichton.

Laser 4.7: 1st Aimee Cushley, 2nd Anna Rose Kelly, 3rd Daniel Smith.

Topper: 1st Colin Crichton, 2nd Sarah Kelly, 3rd Lucien Coole.

Topper 4.2: 1st Charlotte Ash, 2nd Victoria Eames.

Optimist: 1st Toby Coole, 2nd Violet McLaughlin.