High spirits at Balloon Race

Spectators were treated to a spectacular sight on Saturday as County Antrim Yacht Club held its annual Allianz Balloon Race.

With hundreds of colourful balloons released onto the shores of Belfast Lough, all the competitors took to the seas and the balloons were soon swarmed by a flotilla of sailors in dinghies and kayaks.

The aim of the race is for the sailors to secure as many balloons as possible and bring them back to the shoreline. The winner or winning crew are the ones with the highest count in various different dinghy categories.

The event, which has now become one of the fun highlights of the County Antrim Yacht Club’s calendar, annually attracts entries from a wide range of junior sailors.

The idea was initially borne out of an attempt to introduce a more relaxed side to sailing and one in which children of all abilities could participate without any competitive sailing pressure.

It was all hands on deck for the best balloon grasping and popping techniques, with many of the competitors in fancy dress.

When all the sailors had returned to dry land, an official count was completed by Commodore Stephen Foster and the winners in each category declared.