Ten of Northern Ireland’s Topper and ILCA sailors travelled to Plas Heli in Pwllheli for The Celtic Cup on the 3rd and 4th of February.
This annual event sees some of the best youth and junior sailors from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland compete against each other in the hope of being crowned top Celtic nation.
On top of high-level competition, the sailors gained coaching from a wide range of RYA coaches, allowing them to develop their racing knowledge to a higher level and broaden their perspectives by conversing with other sailors.
This year, Wales claimed a narrow one-point victory, despite a good first day from Northern Ireland, edging the overnight leads in both classes.
Outside of the on the water competition, the sailors enjoyed activities including a water polo tournament and rock climbing. This was a great opportunity to solidify friendships with the other Celtic nations.
These friendships will be vital considering the action-packed summer of events ahead, including competitions such as the ILCA 6 Youth Europeans coming to Ballyholme Yacht Club.
Reflecting on the event, Performance Manager Andrew Baker said: “Having missed the event last year, it is always unknown how our sailors are progressing internationally. This event is not a World Championship, but it does give us good feedback on how we compare within the other home nations.
“Overall, I’m happy to come away with 2nd overall by only one point. We are in a similar position to Scotland and Wales in that we need to build on the depth of our squads.
“Travelling to events outside of Ireland is important as it’s common to become the ‘big fish in a small pond’ at home clubs. Racing against new faces is a good way of upping your game and pushing you out of your comfort zone.
“A massive part of the event is to break up the dull Northern Irish winter. We put an emphasis on making the event fun. Everything is residential and onsite so sailors will spend time with their new friend groups. We ran a water polo tournament and rock climbing on Saturday night which both received great feedback.”
Lewis Thompson- Ballyholme Yacht Club- 4th overall
Daniel Palmer – Ballyholme Yacht Club- 3rd overall
Charlotte Eadie- Ballyholme Yacht Club/ Donaghadee Sailing Club- 6th overall
Rory Pollard- County Antrim Yacht Club- 10th overall
Chloe Craig- Carrickfergus Sailing Club- 6th overall
Emily McAfee- Ballyholme Yacht Club- 3rd overall
Hugo Boyd- Ballyholme Yacht Club- 5th overall
Sophie Cairns- Ballyholme Yacht Club- 16th overall
Polly Robinson- Ballyholme Yacht Club- 17th overall
Zoe Westhurst- Ballyholme Yacht Club- 12th overall