2023 is the 50th Anniversary of the Ruffian 23, a one-design class developed and manufactured originally in Portaferry from 1973 by the famous Brown brothers, Billy and Dickie. Over the years the Ruffian fleet extended to Dun Laoghaire, Baltimore and Galway, with many crossing the Irish Sea to England and also further afield to Hong Kong where a strong fleet continue to race competitively.
To celebrate this Golden Jubilee, the entire Carrickfergus fleet of 9 Ruffians headed off to Portaferry on Thursday 15th June to meet up with Ruffian friends sailing up from Dun Laoghaire and resident in Portaferry. In total, 17 boats participated in the weekend programme of events.
Organised by Portaferry Sailing Club, the action packed programme ensured the social activities proved as popular as the on the water activities. The Clubhouse and staff were extremely welcoming to all and made us all feel very much at home. Their hospitality was truly phenomenal.
Events for the weekend kicked off on Friday with a motor sail up Strangford Lough through Ringhaddy Sound to the Lightship at Down Cruising Club. In light winds and sun shine, the fleet enjoyed outstanding scenery with many under spinnaker and accompanied by dolphins and seals along the route. The unique and stunning Lightship welcomed the whole fleet providing refreshments and a fabulous BBQ lunch.
The fleet returned to Portaferry with the Sailing Club providing a varied schedule of music and entertainment late into the night.
Racing was due to commence at 9.30am Saturday morning, however, due to no wind, the start was delayed to 11am, which many competitors welcomed. Racing in Strangford Lough in light winds and strong tides proved an interesting challenge for all boats and provided some entertaining sights for those afloat and on the shore, including pirouettes, sailing backwards and many close encounters. Two races were completed which was an incredible accomplishment, considering the light winds.
Congratulations to Bloodhound, Rascal, Mjollnir and Druid who came 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th respectively out of a racing fleet of 14 and to Jim Shields on Druid who won the first race and to Stephen Penney and whose boat Hot Orange won a prize for best graphics. The Regatta Dinner was hosted by Portaferry Sailing Club with everyone enjoying delicious meals prepared by their resident Chef, followed by another fabulous night of entertainment.
Immense thanks to Heather Kennedy, John McAlee and Moira Ritchie from Portaferry SailingClub for putting on such a great event and thanks also to Wendy Grant, Daisy, from CSC for coordinating the event at a local level.