Carrickfergus is well placed to attract major yachting events following restoration of the town’s fire-damaged sailing club premises.
That was the message from Trevor Kirkpatrick, Commodore of Carrickfergus Sailing Club, at the official re-opening of the enhanced clubhouse just two years after a blaze destroyed the building.
Members of the Northern Ireland sailing fraternity were at Rodgers Quay on Saturday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was performed by long-standing member Terry Windsor, who joined Carrickfergus SC in 1955. An experienced sailor, for the last five years he has been Race Officer for the Clubs Points Racing.
In his address, Mr Kirkpatrick praised members for their work in ensuring the club’s sailing calendar continued after the devastating blow.
He said: “It has been a difficult two years but I am so delighted that we are back at the clubhouse that has been our home for the past 35 years. I would like to thank everyone in the sailing fraternity who rallied round and helped ensure this great club continued.
“We are immensely proud of this new building that is not only much more environmentally friendly but also has full disabled access. Carrickfergus is now very well placed to attract a host of major sailing events to our town.”
Up to seven fire appliances were called to Rodgers Quay on June 23, 2012 as flames swept through the building. The next morning, members met to begin drawing up a development plan which would see it fully restored. It now boasts state-of-the-art changing facilities fully accessible to sailors with a disability and a new multi-purpose room ideal for dinghy sailing. The clubhouse also features a large first floor balcony.
Mr Kirkpatrick added: “After the fire we were struck by the messages of support we received from sailing clubs as far away as Dublin. Our members really rose to the challenge, volunteering for extra duties and helping to clear up after the fire. We would like to thank our neighbours including Carrick Sea Cadets, Belfast Lough Sailability, Carrickfergus Marina and Premier Inn for helping us out with use of their facilities during the time of restoration.”
Ronnie Brown, Chief Operations Officer of the Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland, said: “We in the Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland are aware of the huge effort which has gone into getting this project to completion and delighted that Carrickfergus Sailing Club, which has produced and continues to produce so many top class sailors, is now fully back in business in exciting new accommodation.”