Northern Ireland sailors shine at Topper World Championships
Northern Ireland sailors are celebrating after a solid performance at the Topper World Championships, just ended on Belfast Lough and hosted by Ballyholme Yacht Club.
Seven local sailors qualified for the Gold Fleet, the event's top performers, including County Antrim's Jenna McCarlie, who is a member of Royal Yacht Association Northern Ireland's Topper Squad. Jenna claimed her spot on the podium after clinching a bronze in the girls fleet.
RYA is the governing body for sailing and powerboat racing in Northern Ireland. The Topper is one of the RYA's junior pathway classes that develops young sailors in racing, who may look to progress to the Olympics.
Speaking after the competition, RYA Northern Ireland's Topper squad coach Chris Penney said: "It was a tough week with difficult conditions over the first few days but excellent conditions on the final day. All the team sailed brilliantly and have learned a lot to take forward in their future careers. We are particularly proud of Jenna's achievement."
The competition brought over 200 competitors and 700 visitors to Ballyholme from as far as Thailand, China and South Africa.
Over the course of the week it was the British and Irish sailors who came out on top in the 5.3 class. It was very close racing at the top of the fleet with Britain's Sam Cooper, Eliot Kyzyk, Tim Hartnell and Callum Bell along with Ireland's Jack Fahy, Sophie Crosbie and Michael Carroll all battling it out for the number one spot. In the end, Britain's Eliot Kuzyk was crowned champion, taking the title just four years after his older brother Giles won in 2012. Tim Hartnell secured second place and in third was Sam Cooper. First lady was Sophie Crosbie.
Meanwhile in the 4.2 class, the visiting Asian sailors really shone. Thailand's Max Yuang-Ngam took lead at the start of the competition and pulled further away from the rest on the points table which resulted in him winning the World Championship. In second was Rabbit Su from China and Max's team-mate Patron Merveilde from Thailand secured third place.
Ballyholme's Vice Commodore Mark Mackey praised the event and commented on the success of the competition: "Our members have been preparing for the Topper Worlds for over 18 months, and over the seven days we have had over 100 volunteers working ashore and on the water. I have to give huge thanks to all of them."
Andy Millington from the International Topper Class Association said: "Ballyholme Yacht Club hosted a great week of good racing in variable conditions. Many competitors have mentioned how friendly the atmosphere has been at the club and the surrounding areas. We would love to come back again in the future."
Next year's competition is being held in Brittany, France.