It is 36 years since the father of Ben Greenhalgh, winner of the RS Feva UK Nationals at Pwllheli, raced in the same waters in the Cadet Worlds in a team from Ireland. Simon Greenhalgh from Ballyholme YC was part of a team competing all those years ago before the days of RYA NI instructors and coaches. None of that team won the Worlds, but happily, at least recently, Ballyholme Yacht Club not only had three boats in the 2023 RS Feva Nationals but those three plus one from Royal North and one from East Down made their mark on the overall results.
They were accompanied by Performance Manager and Coach Thomas Nixon, who has been working with the fleet at home.
Racing in the big fleet of nearly 100 at Plas Heli in Pwllheli in North Wales were the five-strong team from the North. From East Down YC on Strangford Lough were Rose Kelly and Kate Jennings, from Belfast Lough clubs, Ross and Ellie Nolan (Royal North of Ireland YC), and from Ballyholme were Matthew and Peter Ridout, Emily and Annabel Ridout and Jessica Dadley-Young and Sally Nixon.
In the Gold Fleet, Matt and Peter came 3rd in the family class and 19th overall, counting a fifth as best result. Emily and Annabel Ridout, with a fifth top result, were 4th in the Family class (20th overall). Ross and Ellie Nolan from RNIYC were 38th overall, finishing one race at seventh in what was Ellie’s first big event. In the Silver Fleet, Rose Kelly and Kate Jennings from East Down YC were 31st, finishing ninth in their best race, and Jessica and Sally from BYC were 38th, counting a fifth as their top score.
On Days 1 and 2, the competitors raced randomly in four colour groups to produce rankings for the last two days’ racing. The fleet was then ranked into Gold (top 47 boats) and Silver fleet (lower 47 boats) for days three and four.
Conditions varied during the event, but the sun remained consistent. Winds ranged from light and shifty to stronger, no wind, and finally, perfect sailing weather.
RYANI was very pleased with the NI sailors’ results posting on Facebook; “With a fleet just shy of 100 boats, our sailors did a great job and were competitive despite limited previous training. In our new Strategic Aims to Improve Diversity, Re-Imagine Pathways and Maxamise Athlete Potential, double-handed sailing is a critical area of development. We do have good fleet racing for double-handed sailing in NI; however, it has been less so in the youth and junior fleets that historically go down single-handed pathways of Topper / ILCA. It is our mission to have sustainable pathways for these age groups and build them into our Youth Performance Programme. This in turn will not only feed into the established classes in NI but ensure we have the opportunities in place for those aspiring to towards future Olympic class competitions”.
The next big event for the RS Fevas is the Northerns, to be held on the 26th and 27th of August at East Down Yacht Club on Strangford Lough.