It is hard to believe that Easter is upon us and that another BYC Stena Line Icebreaker winter series is over. Once again it was a fantastic series for those competitors who took part with the full range of weather conditions and cracking racing. It would not have been possible to race without the help of all the volunteers who gave up their spare time on Sundays (and other days as well) to make this event so successful. The guys and girls who go out to provide rescue, often in freezing conditions; the Crew of the Start boat; the battery teams and race officers; the results team, and everyone else who supports... a big thank you from everyone who took part.
Last Sunday was a great sailing day with blue skies and moderate wind. There was a good turnout for the last race of the series with lots of different battles going on in all the fleets and of course prizes and honour at stake!
In the Laser Standard fleet there was, really, only going to be one winner. Gareth Flannigan had the series wrapped up well before the end but he kept focused and finished 3rd on the day which gave him the second series win. Colin Leonard made a welcome return to the racing and recorded first place last week sailing a faultless race. Chris Boyd continued his good form and was second with Gareth in 3rd. David Fletcher and Brian Spence were just behind in 4th and 5th with Trevor Patterson having his best result ever in the Icebreaker series in 6th place. (another to benefit from Bob's coaching sessions!)
That meant Gareth Flannigan was the winner of the second series with Chris Boyd in second and Hammy Baker in 3rd.
The overall results for both Part A & B for the lasers were Gareth Flannigan in first, Chris Boyd second and David Fletcher third.
In the silver fleet Robin Moran finished 10th on Sunday which was enough to secure him first place in the Sliver Fleet. David Wilson didn't have his best afternoon and couldn't put much pressure on him so he finished 2nd overall. Paddy Brow got over excited at the start in his quest to catch Robin and was black flagged so he dropped back to 3rd overall in the silver fleet.
The Bronze fleet was won by Robert Kirk who finished 24th on Sunday but had enough of a cushion to protect his lead. Francis Kennedy was 2nd with Chris Escott in 3rd.
In the radials Suzanne Flannigan had her best race in this fleet to date and took the honours with Ryan Glynn in 2nd and Brian Bibby in 3rd. The second series was won by Ryan Glynn with Tim Brow in 2nd place and Jessica Rutherford in 3rd place.
The overall results for the Radial were 1st Ryan Glynn, 2nd Brian Bibby, 3rd Chris Eames.
The Topper fleet has a huge number of entrants although due to other commitments such as NI Squad training, many sailors couldn't attend all events. In the end, a new entrant Ben Martin managed to win Part 2 with a first in the final race - this is his first full season racing, having come from the BYC "Race Squad" last summer. Ben also managed second in the overall series with Tom Purdon winning with consistent finishes in both series, and Mark McDonough third.
The large dinghy fleet was dominated by RS400's in Part 2 filling the top 4 places with Mark McAllister from RNIYC coming first from BYC's Robin Flannigan, and Liam Donnelly. Also of note, BYC's Bob Espey (brother of Olympic hopeful Laser sailor James) who only purchased a RS400 half way through the series and has had to sail with a broken mast, finished off the last five races with two thirds and two firsts. The summer season will certainly be competitive. Wic McCready won the overall series in his K1 dinghy/keelboat.
In the multihull class, Adrian Allen showed his continued form winning Part 2 and the Overall series.
Ballyholme YC would like to thank StenaLine for their sponsorship of the event, and all the visiting competitors from clubs throughout Northern Ireland - 120 boats across 6 fleets and 22 races from the start of October until end March. The summer will seem much quieter in comparison.
As a post-script, Gareth Flannigan heads to the Laser Munsters this weekend with many other BYC members. Our next racing id the Dennis Finlay Memorial Trophy on 21st April for Lasers, and Opening Day is the following Saturday with a RUYC start line.
Full results on the Ballyholme Yacht Club website.