Sailing: Larne gears up for Ulster Championship

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This weekend the GP14 Class international sailing association pay a visit to Larne Lough for their annual Ulster Championship.

More than 50 crews are expected to compete. Entries for this prestigious event – one of the oldest in the sailing calendar – have been received from across Ireland.

Norman Hamilton, East Antrim Boat Club’s chief organiser commented; “The GP14 class have long connections with Larne, going back to the 1950s when John McWilliam introduced the craft to the lough. We are expecting a strong turnout, perhaps upwards of 30 boats on the water over the two days.”

Competition opens on Saturday with Principal Race Officer Richard Doig and his team getting the first of three races away at noon. The championship continues on Sunday at 11am with three further races. The crew with the lowest score with be crowned the 2012 Ulster Champions.

Defending that crown will be Larne woman Melanie Morris who, along with Dublin-based Irish Olympian Ger Owens, took the title on Strangford Lough last July. This time they will be racing a Belfast build wooden GP14 by Duffin Marine.

Alistair Duffin will also be competing in the Larne event as will Melanie’s father and Larne ‘Hall of Fame’ member, Curly Morris with Laura McFarland crewing.

Another local crew, and past champion Robert Gingles with George Kirby will also be flying the EABC flag over the weekend. A past world champion, Larne’s Andy Thompson, however, remains a doubtful starter.

The course for the championship will be laid each day within Larne Lough with the best viewing from Curran Point, Magheramorne and along the Islandmagee shore.

Event details and indeed details on other Larne Lough events such as the forthcoming International Topper class event and the club’s winter programme are available from the East Antrim Boat Club website www.eabc.org.uk