After months of meticulous planning it seemed that at 08.00 hours on 7th September battered by a chill northerly gale and drenched in horizontal rain, the Great Circumnavigation of Larne Lough and indeed the whole Meningitis Chase Race day would have to wait for another time! 

The organisers were frantically fingering their iPads in search of a sympathetic weather site. Then as race officer Richard Doig was reaching for ‘that’ flag, both the wind, now with a touch of easterly in it, abated and the rain eased. An eerie calm descended on East Antrim Boat Club. The committee boat was fired up and it was, game on.

The dire morning however had seriously eaten into the turnout prediction. The organising team at EABC estimated that it took probably a dozen craft out of the entry forecast. 

However, for the Minor Race, seven Toppers two Mirrors and a RS Feva took on the first challenge of the day. But the weather Gods were playing games. Going from 40 knots to four had left Larne Lough devoid of its steady wind pattern. After 50 minutes of sailing it was the Mirror dinghy of Freddie(5) and Gavin Doig - son and father -from the home club who crossed the rolling finish. They were comfortably ahead of Ellen McCarlie (12) from Co.Antrim Yacht Club in second place. 

Approaching one o’clock some thirty more entries took to the waters for what would be an ‘interesting’ inaugural Chase Race. It was light and it was shifty – some said it was mystical others described the conditions differently...  

First away in the staggered starting sequence was the Laser 4.7 of Niamh Dean followed by Katie Kane in her Europe. But they were soon gobbled up by the chasing GP14s in an increased breeze. After some forty minutes the conditions challenged the fleet again – it was ‘spot the pockets of air’ time. Gary Fekkes in the Laser Radial was the first to see it. Rory McKenna & Alan Hill in the classic Flying 15 followed him. They gained even more. They lead the fleet at the halfway stage. The RS 400 quartet visiting from Belfast Lough had picked up a strengthening breeze on a course which was now biased in favour of close reaching legs. The chase was on! 

They tore through the 15’s, crushed the various Laser rigs and picked off the GP14s one by one. Leading the chase, Gareth Flannigan & David Fletcher their red spinnaker sensing blood, were hauling in the competition. Seventeen-year-old Fekkes was next on their target list. Time was running out. The huge crown which had forsaken the onshore entertainment roared encouragement for Laser lad. The one minute (to run) horn blasted.... 
The ’15 crew were safe, young Fekkes was looking over his shoulder, but the 400 fire had all but been extinguished.

A relieved Tom Jobling, speaking on behalf of the Jobling family, who were the drivers of the novel event, said later; “What greeted us that morning was nothing short of devastating. Months of hard planning washed away in the autumn equinox.” He continued, “But we didn’t factor in the resilience of either the sailors of Northern Ireland, or the members of East Antrim. Once the races started, the onshore fête stalls were moved inside to the relative shelter of the vacant boathouse. The show got underway. Then the sun came out, as did the stalls again. The bouncy castle was inflated and our world was restored.” He concluded, “On behalf of the family I say thank you to all involved in this effort for Meningitis. The weather smiled on us as did everyone assembled on Curran Point. And, we remembered Stan’s smile again.”

Overall, as the organising team had hoped for, it was indeed a day of mixed abilities. It covering a huge age range; the youngest competitor was five, the oldest knocking on the door of 70. At the gala prize-giving the Chase Race winners, Rory McKenna & Alan Hill praised the slickness of the whole operation and the warmth of the EABC membership. Rory closed by suggesting that the Chase Race could be an annual Larne Lough challenge.

At the time of going to press the total raised for the Meningitis Trust was looking to be on the starboard side of, £3,000 sterling. A formal cheque hand-over to the Meningitis Trust will be held in the coming weeks at East Antrim Boat Club up in county Antrim.








Freddie & Gavin Doig


East Antrim BC


Ellen McCarlie


Co. Antrim YC


Hannah Liddle


East Antrim BC








Rory McKenna & Alan Hill

Flying 15 (C)

Co. Antrim YC


Gary Fekkes

Laser Radial

East Antrim BC


Gareth Flannigan & David Fletcher


Ballyholme YC


*** *** ***
2nd of September 2013

With the Meningitis Chase Race now a matter of days away the countdown commenced, and the entry list growing, East Antrim Boat Club is already celebrating a clutch of successes – five in fact, if you count the All-Ireland rowing championship. “Not a bad weekend’s work” commented Commodore, Gordon Kane. 

This prestigious level of home grown talent awaits competitors already geared up to take on the challenge that will be...’the Great Circumnavigation of Larne Lough’ on Saturday 7th September. 

Not only did Chris Penny lift the Irish Laser title but his father Stephen was crowned the Master’s Champion in Cork.  Further north in Dublin bay Melanie Morris crewed Ger Owens to the Irish GP14 title. Then, over the same August weekend at Ballyholme Yacht Club, Katie Kane crewed her way to the RS Feva title; club mate Molly Fekkes was third. Meanwhile Debbie Hanna, while not racing her Laser Radial was rowing her way, with the Cairndhu Senior Ladies team, to an All-Ireland title too.

Larne Lough will be awash with champions. But it will be a day when all age groups and abilities will be going head-to-head. 

Chris Penny said; “I’m really looking forward to this great day out, but over and above the obvious challenges I want to see the novices out there too. I want to see the smiling faces as the competitive community come together for this worthy cause”  he continued, “ Of course I say this, hoping that I’ll survive the Europeans.....”

The programme for the Meningitis Chase Race is as follows;
08.30 hours Coffee Dock opens
09.00 hours Registration Desk opens
10.00 hours Briefing for the Minor Race
11.00 hours Start of the Minor Race
11.50 hours Finish of the Minor Race
12.00 hours Briefing for the Chase Race
12.30 hours BBQ 
13.00 hours Start of the Chase Race
13.00 hours Aqua~Fête opens
14.40 hours Finish of the Chase Race
15.30 hours Competitor’s meal – first serving
16.00 hours Traditional music session
17.00 hours Gala Prize-giving & competitors Raffle opens

Tom Jobling said, “Everything is now is place for this most novel of events: the sponsors have played their part as have the local marine trade and the Larne traders as well as the members of East Antrim Boat Club. The Tombola table is itself evidence of that!” He continued, “The generosity that has been shown to us, the family, as we raise the awareness of this most awful of diseases, has been humbling. So all we need now is for the weather Gods to show equal compassion and the journey will be perfect. We look forward to you company on Saturday.”

*** *** ***
13th of August 2013

The forthcoming Meningitis Chase Race to be sailed at East Antrim Boat Club on Saturday 7th September will bring together two of Ireland’s leading 14 footers to battle it out for the big P&O prize.

The mighty GP14s who have maintained their status across the Island will no doubt be watching over shoulders as the heir apparent the RS400 fleet chase them down.  As time ticks away towards 14.40 hours and the Great Circumnavigation of Larne Lough nears its spectator focused finish, tension not only for the leaders, and chasers, will be palpable.

Of course the various other classes: 420’s, Fireballs, Lasers, RS200’s and 5O5’s for example, will be hoping that the aforementioned struggle will be so intense that they, any of them, can nip in ahead or stay in front long enough to steal the day. Taking bets anyone? 

Turnout estimates are continuing to suggest that the Chase Race(s) may attract a fleet of some seventy craft. The organising team at EABC are currently considering whether a ‘cap’ need’s to be applied to the event: No decision has been taken as yet. 

Tom Jobling said; “We are delighted with the interest that has been shown for our Meningitis fundraiser from the Irish classes, but of course this needs to be converted into firm entries. I wholly appreciate East Antrim’s concerns and now ask would-be competitors to confirm that interest... by entering. It’s not just about the safety element, but numbers onshore too; the catering the parking and of course bar stocking. I know the team at East Antrim are really looking forward to the great day as indeed are we, the family.”

Event chairman Norman Hamilton continued, “If you intend enter but are not sure which race to sail in, give Tom a call. Basically if your dinghy has a Portsmouth number below 1180, you will be sailing in the morning race. He then announced; “But regardless of whatever race, and thanks to a very generous Yachts & Yachting, every competitor, helm or crew, will be receiving three free copies of their online magazine. Just remember to bring along your email address”  

Details of the Meningitis Chase Race are available for download at Follow the event build-up on
Information; Tom Jobling (mobile) +44(0)780 969 1585

Notice of Race, Entry Forms and general information are available at  

Follow the Chase Race on Facebook or give Tom Jobling a call on +44(0)7809691585. 
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