Young powerboaters battle it out at Ballyholme Yacht Club

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It was an overcast but thrilling day of competition at Ballyholme Yacht Club on May 7 as 10 competitors from three RYANI sailing clubs took to the water to battle it out at the Honda Youth Rib Championships.

With a sharp chop and a breeze coming in from the East, conditions were difficult for the competitors from Ballyholme (BYC), East Antrim Boat Club (EABC) and County Antrim Yacht Club (CAYC), and the powerboating event was held off-shore

However, the conditions didn’t faze competitors from East Antrim Boat Club who adapted quickly, taking home four out of six podium places.

Joshua Kane (12) from East Antrim Boat Club in Larne (Linn Primary School) secured first place in the 8-12 category with a winning time of 1.25, 23 faster than his closest competitor.

Joshua, who has been taking part in the sport for three years, was delighted with his win: “It was something fun to do with dad. It’s exciting an unexpected, I’m really happy!”

As well as his top quality powerboating skills, Joshua also holds a level 4 RYA sailing certificate.

In the 13-16 category, six competitors went head to head. Despite some stiff competition, Ballyholme’s Finlay McLees (Methody College, Belfast) was crowned champion.

Finlay has been competing in the championships for two years and is an RYA Power Boat level 2 and safety boat certificate holder. He said: “I’m excited and relieved to be the winner, I’m very happy with the result!”

A further 12 regional championships will now take place before the winners face off at the national final at the Southhampton Boat Show on Sunday 18 September 2016.

The successful event at BYC is the last to be organised by dedicated volunteer Rory Flannigan. Rory has organised the NI finals for three years but will now pass on the mantle. As safety boat officer at Ballyholme, he will continue to organise a myriad of events, including 2016’s World Topper Championships.

RYANI Chair Sheela Lewis commented: “It has been another great event at Ballyholme as our powerboaters battled it out in the Honda Youth Rib Championships. We have witnessed some top class talent this weekend and I am delighted to congratulate everyone that took part. I looking forward to supporting our two winners as they go on to compete and do us proud at the national finals in September.

“I would like to thank our host club Ballyholme Yacht Club for organising and delivering this very successful event and to the many dedicated volunteers who worked hard behind the scenes to ensure everything ran seamlessly, despite the difficult conditions. I would particularly like to extend my thanks to Rory Flannigan for his dedication in promoting and running the event. As a past competitor he has been able to pass on his experience and knowledge to our young powerboaters.”

Now in its fifteenth year, the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship is Britain’s leading programme introducing kids to powerboats and training them to be safe, proficient drivers and excellent boat handlers.