Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

2024 European ILCA 6 Youth Championships For Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough

8th December 2023
Ballyholme Yacht Club on the east side of Bangor in North Down has been chosen to host the European ILCA 6 Youth Championships in 2024
Ballyholme Yacht Club on the east side of Bangor in North Down has been chosen to host the European ILCA 6 Youth Championships in 2024 Credit: Thom Touw

The European ILCA 6 Youth Championships 2024 will be sailed at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough next season.

“This is a very significant championship for Europe’s youth sailors and hosting the event is a feather in the cap for both the club and for the region,” says Rob Milligan, Ballyholme Yacht Club Commodore.

The club is no stranger to hosting major dinghy sailing championships and next year Belfast Lough will see around 300 IlCA 6s (previously known as Laser Radials). The club has 122 years of racing experience behind it and now is seen as a family-friendly water sports centre that champions participation, enjoyment and excellence in water sports for all skill levels and ages. Today, in addition to sailing, the club provides training and access to a diverse range of water sports, including paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming, powerboating, and windsurfing.

"Racing will take place over eight days from 27th July to the 3rd of August 2024"

Young sailors aged 15-19 from around 42 European countries will make the trip to Bangor with their families and some 80 coaches. The event is a major coup for BYC and indeed for Northern Ireland. Principal Race Officer will be club member Robin Gray will lead a team which includes visiting International Race Officers from England, Tom Rusbridge and Paul Jackson. The event Organiser is ex-Commodore Aidan Pounder.

ILCA youth racing on Belfast LoughILCA youth racing on Belfast Lough

The ILCA 6 Youth European Championships is a major sailing event, where the competitors race single-handed in an Olympic class dinghy, formerly known as a Laser.

The event will take place over eight days from 27th July to the 3rd of August 2024.

Pounder says the Club is absolutely delighted to be awarded the hosting of the EurILCA 6 Youth European Championships and Open European Trophy. “This is a very significant championship for Europe’s youth sailors and hosting this event is fantastic news for UK and Irish sailing. The young sailors are representing their countries, and success at these championships is an important step not only in their own development, but future representation for their respective countries in World and Olympic class events. We are really looking forward to July and delivering a fantastic event which will bring the sailing community together and see the Borough thriving”.

The announcement of the Club’s successful bid to host the prestigious Championships was formalised recently when the EurILCA Chairperson, Jean-Luc Michon, flew in from France to meet the event organisers. After a tour of Bangor as part of a familiarisation visit and a review of the facilities, organisational plans and seeing the sights of the city, Michon shared his enthusiasm for the venue saying: “We’ve found the facilities to be very good, and with the highly experienced organising team in place, there is no doubt that we will have a great ILCA Youth European Championship at Ballyholme next summer”.

Rob Milligan, Club Commodore, explained, “BYC won the bid thanks to the club’s impressive track record of organising many ‘gold cup’ championships such as the F18 World Championships, the Topper Worlds and the World Police and Fire Games along with many other regional and national events. We also benefit from our fantastic location, which offers a top-level competition environment on the open waters of Belfast Lough,”

Another important aspect for the club and indeed EurILCA, was the ability to deliver a ‘Clean Regatta’. BYC holds a very strong marine environmental position, and the club is proud to be signed up to the Green Blue Pledge, hold platinum level Clean Regattas Certification and Final Straw Certification, all of which aligns with EurILCA’s values and has put BYC in an excellent position to meet EurILCA’s sustainability requirements.

The success in hosting such major events hinges on the generous contributions of the BYC volunteers, the support of other sailing clubs, the local community, and Ards and North Down Borough Council, who underpin the commitment necessary.
Milligan added, “The evidenced benefit to the community in delivering such events is a substantial economic boost to the borough and wider community as a whole. With competitors and their supporters often arriving weeks before the event, accommodation bookings, dining, and participation in local activities and tourism experiences are all set to soar. Having travelled to Northern Ireland for the competition, we are encouraging our visitors to stay and experience all that the region has to offer tourists. It will be a busy summer”.

Several Irish sailors competed successfully at the 2023 event in Poland, including many familiar with the waters of Belfast Lough. Among them were Bobby Driscoll, Dan Palmer, and Zoe Whitford, who are associated with NI clubs.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

Email The Author

Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven't put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full-time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

About the ILCA/Laser Dinghy

The ILCA, formerly known as the Laser, is the most produced boat in the world, with 220,000 units built since 1971.

It's easy to see why the single-handed dinghy has won the title of the most widely distributed boat of all time.

The Laser is a one-design dinghy, the hulls being identical but three rigs that can be used according to the size and weight of the sailor.

The class is international, with sailors from 120 countries. The boat has also been an Olympic class since 1996, being both the men's and women's singlehanded dinghy.

Three rigs are recognised by the International Laser Class Association (ILCA):

  • ILCA 4: sail of 4.70m2
  • ILCA 6: sail of 5.76 m2
  • ILCA 7: sail of 7.06 m2

At A Glance – Laser Dinghy Specifications

Designer Bruce Kirby & Ian Bruce

Year 1969

Crew 1
Draft 0.787 m (2 ft 7.0 in)
Hull weight 58.97 kg (130.0 lb)
LOA 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in)
LWL 3.81 m (12 ft 6 in)
Beam 1.39 m (4 ft 7 in)
Mainsail area 7.06 m2 (76.0 sq ft)

Racing D-PN 91.1 RYA PN 1088 PHRF 217

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
isora sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating