Coleraine Yacht Club held its annual 24-hour Yacht Race recently and it proved to be another great success for the club.
This race was first run in 1969 and has run continuously except for a few years in the
The triangle course on the River is 1.85 miles and the trophy goes to the crew who sail the longest distance in 24 hours.
There are few sailors around the clubs of Northern Ireland who have not competed in at least one of these unique races. The cannon to start the Race was fired at 1400 hours on Saturday 20th. by Ulster and Ireland rugby star Andrew Trimble. 16 teams consisting of 120 sailors hit the start line jockeying for the optimum position even though all had 24 hours to catch up or fall behind.
Ballyholme Yacht Club Team Paddy Brow in a Laser Radial and Ballyronan Boat Club GP 14 team were first to cross followed closely by Carrickfergus Sailing and Boat Club. The host club CYC first Laser got a really bad start. When asked after his 2 hour leg David MacFarlane said he had set his timer at the wrong sequence and thought he had 1 minute to go.
Sixth after the first hour they were to work there way through the fleet to 4th place during the sixth hour. The first junior team at the start was the competitive Topper team from CYC skippered by Ulster Squad sailer T C Baxter-Mulvenna.
No other Junior team came close and they never lost the lead through the 24 hours. As the Race developed into the evening the teams from Ballyholme Coleraine Ballyronan Carrick and Cushendall and Foyle occupied the top places with Coleraine working their way through the fleet to take the lead with four hours to go.
There was strong competition between the GP’s of Ballyronan and Foyle with Ballyronan staying just ahead throughout. The Lasers both Radial and Standard were raced hard with little between teams.
The wind blowing force 3 to 4 at the start at times fell off but after midnight it increased with gusts to force 6 to 7. These were short lived but made for lively conditions especially on down wind legs. Paddy Brow from Ballyholme high ranking on the Ulster Laser Radial squad made an art form of these conditions hitting waves and surfing for longer than any other Laser sailor. The wind direction on the river was NNW giving a good beat albeit with a port bias but giving the GP’s and the Ballyronan Laser Stratos opportunities to carry their spinnakers all the way up the long broad reach.
The last 2 hours were particularly lively as Ballyholme slowly wore down the Coleraine lead finally catching them in the second last hour a lead they held to the final cannon at 1400 hours on Sunday.
CYC Commodore Paul Leighton thanked all who took part and all Club members who had assisted in preparations for the several months before the event.