North Coast sailors complete epic return voyage to Islay

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A team of experienced crews from Portrush and Coleraine Yacht Clubs have successfully completed a ‘notoriously difficult’ journey to Islay in open boats.

Setting off from Portrush Harbour in challenging conditions on Saturday, July 6, the three Wayfarer crews were marshalled by two safety vessels and a support yacht in the long journey to Port Ellen.

This is the first time a fleet of Wayfarers, which are just 4.8m in length, has undertaken this voyage, which is notoriously difficult due to the tidal, sea and wind conditions.

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The outward journey from Portrush to Port Ellen, despite the conditions, was completed in less than seven hours - leaving plenty of time to set up camp and enjoy Islay. More favourable conditions on Sunday, July 7, ensured a smooth sail to Ballycastle.

A team of experienced crews from Portrush and Coleraine Yacht Clubs successfully sailed from Portrush to Islay and back to Ballycastle in three open boats over the weekend. CREDIT KARL SIMMONDSA team of experienced crews from Portrush and Coleraine Yacht Clubs successfully sailed from Portrush to Islay and back to Ballycastle in three open boats over the weekend. CREDIT KARL SIMMONDS
A team of experienced crews from Portrush and Coleraine Yacht Clubs successfully sailed from Portrush to Islay and back to Ballycastle in three open boats over the weekend. CREDIT KARL SIMMONDS

Portrush Yacht Club General Manager, Karl Simmonds said: "It's difficult to articulate the scale of this accomplishment. Lots of hard work has gone into making this event a success, which has been months in the planning.

"We hope the determination and seamanship of our crews to complete this journey will act as an inspiration to others in future."

Taking part were Svea - David Poots and Brian Lynch; Phoenix - Diana and George Turkington; Freyja - Ewan Scott and Patrick Richardson (Portrush to Port Ellen) and Joshua McMichael and Patrick Richardson (Port Ellen to Ballycastle).

Safety Rib 1 - James Marshall and Stephen Smith; Safety Rib 2 - William Wallace and Joshua McMichael (Ewan Scott on return); Support: Ophir - Paul Thompson, Ivor and Jane Neill & Karl Simmonds.

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