Background and Aims of the Club
County Antrim Yacht Club (CAYC), initially known as Whitehead Sailing Club, was first formed on 25 October 1902 and the Centenary was celebrated with a formal dinner attended by many Members and guests on 25 October 2002. The current Clubhouse was built in 1909 and has undergone a number of changes over the years. The Club enjoys a prominent site at the south end of Whitehead promenade and is regarded as a facility which is an integral part of the local community. The Club Patron is HRH Duke of York.
The mid 1970’s was a particularly buoyant period for the Club with the Lake Class at almost full strength encompassing 10 of these old boats at mooring and racing regularly in Points Racing and Regattas. In addition to this the GP14 and Mirror Classes maintained good turnouts with tight racing always the outcome.
The ‘5-0-5’ Class and Squib Classes developed during the early 1980’s as some Members started to focus on other options to enjoy their sailing.
The Club has been instrumental in encouraging sailing over the years by hosting various events. These have included the Ulster Laser Championships in 1984, 1987, 1991 and 1993. In 1993 there was an entry of 94 Lasers which is believed to be one of the highest attendances ever at a Provincial Championship in Ireland.
The Club has also encouraged dinghy sailing in other classes and hosted the very successful Irish and European Scorpion Championships in 1988 where there was a large entry from clubs throughout the UK. The NI Scorpion Championships were also held in 1992 along with various other Scorpion Class events over the following years. As the Club progressed and the focus turned towards Topper Class events, Members travelled to Topper Traveller competitions and in 2004 hosted one of these for the Class.
The Club hosted the prestigious Institute of Bankers in Ireland – Team Racing Championships in 1999 at which Bank Officials from all over the UK and Ireland participated. This was a resounding success with all the visitors staying at the Quality Hotel in Carrickfergus. The Institute conveyed their significant appreciation of the running of the competition and hoped that CAYC would be able to host such an event again in the future.
The present Membership includes many active sailors where concentration on developing Junior and Family Memberships is high on the agenda along with attracting new Members from all parts of the Community. With the increasing numbers of members particiating in sailing, canoeing, snooker, walking and cycling,
with the recent addition of a monthly Book Club that has had it’s 1st anniversary. The Club Members are enjoying a diverse range of activities.
The Club is able to offer many types of watersport courses incorporating both sailing and powerboating. In order to expand this and in recognition of the increased number of canoes/kayaks now owned by the Members the club has now registered with the Canoe Association Northern Ireland (CANI). This latest link up should encourage CANI to use Whitehead as a base for exploring the magnificent coastline along Belfast Lough and Islandmagee. The Club’s Boathouse on Beach road is nearing completion of a restoration project and this resource will facilitate the East Coast Canoe Trail.
The Club recognises that the Junior Membership is critical to its continuing existence. Outside of the normal sailing season the Club organises various events to encourage the younger Members to use the facilities. Events such as Halloween and Christmas parties, Junior Quiz etc. within the Club and outside of the Club e.g. Ten Pin Bowling, Karting etc. have been organised and well supported.
The ‘Try Sailing’ days hosted by the Club have been very successful in attracting new Members with adults and children participating on RYA courses. Special membership deals where discounts are available are offered to encourage new Members.
In recognition of the Junior classes recommended by the RYA, the Club has Toppers, Lasers and Mirrors which are privately owned. In total there are approx. 50/60 dinghies within the Club which are used on a regular basis. These numbers include 14 Classic Flying Fifteens which provide very competitive racing. Having the recommended RYA classes within the Club allows us to focus on these fleets and encourage participation by the younger Members at other events.
Each year the Club runs RYA courses for both Adults and Juniors alike. These are focused on the following:-
RYA Youth Sailing Scheme - Stages 1 – 4
RYA National Sailing Scheme - Seamanship Skills, Day Sailing, Sailing with Spinnakers and Start Racing
RYA PowerBoat Scheme - Stages 1, 2 and Safety Boat
The Club is an RYA Recognised Training Centre (RTC) and takes great care in maintaining up to date records of all courses and numbers of Members who have participated on such courses.
The Club owns 5 Optimist, 2 Pico dinghies which were purchased with the aid of grant funding from the Sports Council. These dinghies have been used every year for training purposes for the young beginners to the sport. A grant of £5,000 was secured from the ‘Foundation for Sport and the Arts’ in 1994 which was used towards a new Rescue Boat, Engine and Road Trailer. Many of these items have been refreshed in the past number of years. In addition the Club has purchased 2 Toppers and 3 GP14s.
Members are encouraged to increase their skills by becoming Senior Sailing Instructors, Dinghy Sailing Instructors, PowerBoat Instructors, Club Race Coaches and Club Race Officers. The policy within the Club is to subsidise these courses with the only request that Members who gain these qualifications being asked to undertake/run courses at CAYC as well as their potential commitments to other clubs.
The Club ensures that during the months of July – August approx. 3 courses within the Youth Sailing Scheme are run each year. For adults Wednesday training/coaching sessions are held during April, May and June with a formal Assessment Weekend course within the National Sailing Scheme held each year, normally in July.
The Club has two qualified PowerBoat Instructors. Courses within the PowerBoat Scheme are held each year. A strong link with Newcastle Yacht Club in Co. Down is maintained as a Senior Sailing Instructor who is also a PowerBoat Instructor works at CAYC during the summer months. As there are different types of Rescue Boats used in Newcastle, Members of Newcastle complete elements of the course at CAYC.
In addition to this a number of our Members who are Dinghy Sailing Instructors take courses in Newcastle in order to allow them to work in a different environment compared to Whitehead.
Now that the Club is officially registered with CANI the intention is to organise training courses for those Members who are keen to develop this section within the Club. We will be liaising with CANI to understand and progress this facility.
As the Club is also registered with the Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs (UFRC) the intention is to organise various walks for Members. The UFRC have indicated that they are willing to come along to the Club in order to provide presentations on rambling opportunities available to the Members.
Points Racing takes place on Sunday afternoons between March and October with Wednesday evening Points Racing additionally taking place between May – August. Racing is for all Members who wish to compete in a range of classes. A prizegiving for all competitions is held at the end of the season normally during October or November.
A Junior Regatta is held during June or July specifically for the Junior Members to encourage their participation in the sport. The club has also attained the ’Volvo RYA Champion Club’ status and there are 8 RYA Club Race Coaches.
During April & May Saturday & Sunday Morning Race Training is available for the Juniors in order to develop their skills with the intention of them competing in the Topper Traveller Series and the NI Youth Championships.
Each year County Antrim Yacht Club hosts the Annual Regatta at which the Members compete along with Members of other Clubs. This is generally the largest event on the Club’s calendar during the sailing season. This provides a great experience for Members to compete, meet and socialise with other Clubs.
Today’s members have the benefits of a clubhouse situated in one of the most picturesque settings for a yacht club in the UK which has had a refurbishment and extension completed in August 2009.
Family memberships are one of the largest categories, and this very much reflects the focus of the Club at this time. The Club’s ethos is reflected in our Objective ‘To promote, teach and encourage the sport of sailing’.