Sailing superstars from across Northern Ireland have been nominated for their contributions and achievements made over the last year and we will be showcasing the finalists in the run up to the awards.

CLUB OF THE YEAR

Ballyholme Yacht Club

Striving to encourage more people into sailing through training and open days, Ballyholme Yacht Club also provides sailing and social activities for its members.

This year, for the first time ever, the club staged and delivered performance training for its Topper and Laser Fleet over a 20 week period during the winter months. It has also staged the ISA Youth Championships, Irish Laser Masters, GP14 Nationals, Ulster 420s, Fireballs, Women on Water, Belfast Lough Regatta Club, the RYANI Youth Nationals and the Denis Finlay Memorial. Event at Ballyholme Yacht Club

Through its busy activity schedule, the club also helps to support the local community, providing bibs for the North Down Triathlon, staging the Northern Ireland Schools CCF Regatta and Rockport School Regatta.

Currently there are three Club members at Ballyholme who competed in London 2012 and qualified Ireland for Rio.

The club has big plans for the next year, hoping to encourage those who have left full time education back into sailing through the delivery of Adult Training Courses. They also will continue to build on the success of Women on Water and encourage more children from disadvantaged areas into sailing.  

Belfast Lough Sailability

Belfast Lough Sailability (BLS) is a volunteer based charity with no paid staff so volunteers are the backbone of the organisation. 

It aims to offer sailing for people with disabilities or disadvantaged to the community, this includes the whole family unit, and the club provides respite for parents, carers and siblings.  They promote activities which all the family can participate in and have some fun. Accessible sailing in Carrickfergus Harbour with BLS

BLS is also involved with the Duke of Edinburgh & Presidents Award schemes and have had several young people completing their volunteering unit with the club.

Closely involved with Volunteer Now, BLS encourages young volunteers to participate in the Millennium Awards and this year several young volunteers achieved 50, 100 and 200 hours recognition.

Along with Antrim & Newtownabbey Council BLS has helped with the Volunteer Student Exchange Scheme. This year two young people volunteered with BLS before going to Arizona and returning with two young American volunteers who then spent a few weeks volunteering with BLS before flying home. 

Over the next year, BLS will continue to work to provide sailing opportunities for people with disabilities and those from ͚disadvantaged͛ sections of all community. They aim to expand operations by attracting additional experienced volunteers, training existing volunteers to higher standards and by sourcing new, more suitable accommodation.  

Carrickfergus Sailing Club

Carrickfergus Sailing Club (CSC) has been actively involved in the Try a Boat and Push the Boat Out events to reach out to a wider section of the community to attract new members.

Its dedicated members make a big impact, volunteering in a wide range of varying roles both on and off the water. This includes race officers, safety boat crews, junior training, coaching, Bosun’s, battery and results teams, administrative assistants, and bar volunteers.

The club invests in sailing volunteers by encouraging and financially assisting them to take recognised RYA courses for instructor, coach, powerboat and safety boat qualifications.

CSC’s positive impact is felt throughout the local community. This year the Club donated an Optimist dinghy to Rathcoole Nursery School where it is used for story-telling and to ignite the imagination of its young pupils. A redundant Wayfarer dinghy was also donated to Ashgrove Primary School and is being used for similar purposes.

This year, Paul Robinson – a CSC member - decided to sail solo nonstop around Ireland to raise funds for Roddensvale Special School. The club got behind Paul and they raised £10,000. Another member, Peter Lock who is visually impaired, took on an alternative triathlon around Belfast Lough. He ran to Carrickfergus, sailed a club bahia to Bangor assisted by one crew and two club safety boats, and then cycled on a tandem back to Carrickfergus! Later that evening Peter held a further fund-raising event in the Club for Guide Dogs NI raising in excess of £ 3,000.

This year, the Club is ambitious, hoping to raise funds and membership and encourage junior sailing through the Bright Night Sailing programme.