Raptor is a 42 foot yacht owned by Ian Stevenson which will be sailed by his daughter Lee and her all girl crew in the Hamilton Shipping 50th Anniversary Ailsa Craig Race to be run by Royal Ulster Yacht Club in mid June. This will be first time an all woman team has graced the line up of prestigious entrants in the event which has a history of experienced sailors and great boats over the years. The race starts at 8.00pm on 15th June from the clubhouse and takes the fleet round Ailsa Craig and back to Belfast Lough.
Lee has gathered together a team of nine with a wide range of skills and a wealth of experience. Fiona Hicks has, like Lee, done a lot of offshore racing, including two Round Ireland Races, the ARC 2005 and many of the Northern Ireland Offshore Points Series races including the Ailsa Craig. Frances McArthur has cruised extensively and has also competed in the offshore scene. Alice Armstrong is more of a small boat expert, and as an RYA Sailing Coach Alice is the Training Manager at Ballyholme Yacht Club and teaches all levels of sailors. Carol Graham has been racing with Fiona and Lee on the RS Elite No Angel for three years and also has cruised widely.
Jan Nixey has raced on a variety of boats both inshore and offshore. Amanda McCullough took to sailing through an Adult Course at Ballyholme and with some offshore racing she is now a leading Sigma 33 foredeck crew on Burton Allen’s Starshine Challenger. Kirsty McGovern, recently returned from living in Australia, has raced dinghies and cruisers. Debbie Addy sails a Beneteau 33.7 with her husband and Heather Johnston raced with Fiona as part of the regular crew on Jimmy Mackey’s ¾ tonner Twenty Twenty and more recently also on Starshine.
At 42 feet, Raptor is a big boat and depending on the weather will be a challenge for this all girl crew racing in the highly competitive IRC Unrestricted Class. This race combines not just normal sailing skills but also navigation and weather awareness and a load of stamina. With the mixture of youth and experience the girls are hoping to give the other boats in their class a run for their money. This is not her first all girl project and as skipper Lee will be bringing into play all her experience of offshore racing, including wins round 'The Craig' on Moonlighter with the late Hugh Ennis, and she hopes to lead home a successful girls’ crew.