News

04

Sunday 1st June marked the inauguration of Ireland's latest class event. The Northern Ireland Restricted Keelboat Racing Association (NIRKRA) held its first 'Super Sunday' event in Bangor Bay. It was hosted by Royal Ulster Yacht Club and sponsored jointly by Quay Marinas, Bangor and, Grange Wine Merchants.

Comprising three back-to-back – no discard – races, the event attracted over 30 competitors crewing on seven yachts. The fleet of similar sized craft hailed from RUYC, Ballyholme YC and East Antrim BC. 
   
NIRKRA is an owner controlled class designed to give good, competitive, close racing at a reasonable cost.  It is aimed at small racing keelboats with the emphasis on keeping the class in a small rating band so racing is as close as can be. NIRKRA racing is run under the RYA NHC handicap system; courses at the 'Super Sunday' events are, windward-leeward.
   
Conditions, albeit without the customary County Down sunshine, were near-on perfect with a force three breeze generally in a southerly vein, but shifting enough, to keep race officer Robin Gray in mark moving mode. 
   
First blood went to the Larne Lough fleet. Prodigal (Bolero) owned and helmed by Tom Jobling together with his crew, comfortably led Manzanita home, with QT-pi third across the line.
   
For the second race, the line became a less courteous zone, with 'Prodigal' being forced out to the wrong side of the committee boat. Manzanita, the 1977 world champion quarter tonner, now beautifully restored by father and son David & Stephen Milne, lead at the weather mark. Prodigal had however recovered, and rounded second, fractionally ahead of Jim Coffey & Tom Bell's Gibsea 80, QT-pi. In turn, they were ahead of the Starflash of Alan Morrison & John Simms and the Contessa 25, Mumbo Jumbo. The Contessa, skippered by Charlie West-Hurst from the host club, went on to take second place on corrected time.  
  
The third and final race of the day followed a similar pattern with bow-to-bow tacking and gybing throughout the fleet, a fleet which stuck like glue; "reminiscent," one of the competitors remarked, "of a single-class dinghy race."
   
As the fleet, all smiles, re-docked in the Quay Marina, there was an air of expectation against what the 'actual' overall result would be after the mathematics of the RYA's National Handicap calculations, had had their day...  More so, and regardless of the final numbers, there was a general satisfaction that something special had just happened; David Milne commented: "There remains yet more members to get afloat in Bangor - two Eygthenes and another Ruffian 23 for example.  As well as the emerging Larne Lough fleet, water bourn seeds are reported on Lough Neagh too."  Tom Jobling, after his overall victory, said; "It would appear that the 'NIRKs' have obtained critical mass." Then he asked; "Does this make me — King Nirk?"   
  
At the sumptuous after-race- luncheon in Royal Ulster, event organiser, Tom Bell, took the opportunity to congratulate all the competitors, especially the two Larne Lough crews who endured a three hour 'cruise' to participate. He went on to thank the race officer and his team, the principal sponsors, and of course his club for hosting the day's racing and craic. 
 

Psn

Yacht

Type

Owner

Club

Pts

1st

PRODIGAL

Bolero

TN Jobling

East Antrim BC

3

2nd

QT-pi

Sea Gib 80

J. Coffey/T. Bell

Royal Ulster YC

8

3rd

MUMBO JUMBO

Contessa 25

Moran/Storey/West-Hurst

Royal Ulster YC

10

4th

Manzanita

R.Holland 1/4 ton

D. Milne/I. Wilson

RUYC/Ballyholme YC

11

5th

Starflash

Starflash

A. Morrison/John Simms

RUYC/Ballyholme YC

14

6th

Mjollnir

Ruffian 23

Norman Hamilton

East Antrim BC

17

7th

Blue Moon

Beneteau-1st-210

John Hutcheson

Ballyholme YC

21

 

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