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The RNLI's 30th Portrush Raft Race takes place this weekend promises to deliver the usual fun frolics and madness around the Harbour from 11am on Saturday 28th May right through to Sunday 29th!

The weekend kicks off with the Junior Raft Race at 11am at the harbour, followed by music, street entertainment, The RNLI Roadshow making its first appearance at the Raft Race and a real coup for the committee.
This year for the first time also the RNLI Lifeguard team will be joining the crew for a spectacular safety display at sea, showing how all sections of the RNLI operate together to save lives.

Radio Ulster's Alan Simpson will be the compere for the day bringing his own style of wit and humour and boundless knowledge of local characters, interviewing rafters, crew, committee and sponsors.
To round it all off local band 'Wipe-out' have reformed to bring back a flavour of the Old Raft Race days.....who can forget them playing in blazing sunshine on the balcony of the yacht Club?

On Sunday there will be the Service of Thanksgiving followed by the madness and mayhem that is the Waiters Race....Come down and support your local bar people. This race gets so competitive it's unreal. Who will knock Sharman Crawford from the Ramore Wine Bar off his perch!

The Committee would like to thanks the Causeway SPAR retail group for their support both in time and money, and everyone else who has contributed to this 30th year of rafting!

Further details can be obtained by calling the Raft Race hotline 07969 814605

History - The First Portrush Raft Race

The Portrush Raft Race has its origins in a special relationship that existed between two Johns. One John (Scott) was closely involved in the day-to-day affairs of the Portrush Lifeboat; the other John (McNally) was the co-owner of the Harbour Bar in Portrush.

In summer 1981 John Scott brought into the Harbour Bar a Lifeboat Magazine containing an article about a Raft Race that the Oban Lifeboat Ladies Guild had successfully run as a fund raiser. John Scott showed the article to John McNally and both were in agreement that the West Bay would provide an ideal venue for running a similar fund raising event in Portrush. The matter rested for some months until there was a clearing-out of the bar shelves when the magazine re-appeared.

A letter was sent to the Oban Ladies Guild who were most helpful in providing copies of their rules and entry form along with some very valuable comments on their experience. The way was clear to start and all that was needed was some willing volunteers to help with the organisation. Regulars of the Bar offered their support and so the first Raft Race Committee was formed. Guinness offered to be the main sponsor which significantly helped in bringing the Portrush Raft Race to the public's attention. The spring bank holiday weekend was selected as it tied in with the Coleraine Borough Council's idea of having a Spring Bank Holiday Fair in Portrush.

An idea was hatched to have a Le Mann type start from the West Beach with crews standing at the water's edge and then sprinting up the beach to collect their rafts and head for the sea with the finish line at the Lifeboat in the harbour. It was agreed from the start that the focus would be family entertainment, rather than speed, with special emphasis being placed on raft design and crew costume.

The first race, which was held on Saturday 29th May 1982, attracted 39 entries with a number making a very special effort to design their rafts attractively. The rafts ranged from the most basic design to the resplendent Quinquireme of Nineveh complete with galley slaves, skeleton, albatross and shark. The ladies of the Fantasy Island also attracted considerable interest with their palm tree, grass skirts and badly fitting coconut shells. The sun shone and the wind from the South West was fresh providing a welcome assist for the tired crews.

The first across the line was the aptly named Portrush Flyer (J Porter, C Irwin, W Green, W Gallagher, N Gaile and N Gibson see above) followed by Titanic Raft 1 and Leonora. The first all ladies raft was also Leonora which was crewed by the girls from Dunluce School, Bushmills ( K Hunter, K Diamond, W Torrens, P McConaghy, S Boswell and M Parke). The best designed raft was Quinquireme of Nineveh ( B Magowan, C Woffinoin, D McKeown, A Creelman, N Adams and C Thompson) and the best costumed crew were Fantasy Island (M McFadden, V Haslam, J Sutchliffe, G Douglas, E Thompson and E Sutcliffe). There were other awards eg most humorous Titanic 1, Perseverance Titanic 2 and most important of all most sponsorship which went to the boys of Dunluce School Bushmills whose raft Big Berta raised over £650.

The first Raft Race rose over £3000 which was way beyond the committee's expectation and guaranteed the continuation of the event. In the 22 years that the two John's were involved the race grew from a Saturday afternoon event to an action packed Raft Race Weekend. Their involvement ceased after the death of John Scott in 2004. It is wrong to single out individuals but particular mention must be made of John and Fay Scott who gave the event the life that made it so enjoyable for all involved in the organisation. Margaret and Alan McFadden who also showed everyone how to enter the spirit of the event and have great fun. Finally mention must be made of Rosie Kirker Millar who sadly recently passed away. Rosie epitomised a can-do spirit and gave so much energy to the committee.

J McNally
May 2011

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under
Belfast Coastguard received multiple 999 calls reporting a group of kayakers in difficulty at lunch time yesterday.

The callers stated that they could see a group of twelve kayakers in difficulty off Portballintrae, Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland.

Belfast Coastguard called out the Coleraine Coastguard Rescue Team and requested the launch of the Portrush RNLI lifeboats.

On arrival the Coleraine Coastguard Rescue team kept the kayakers under observation and directed the Portrush RNLI inshore lifeboat to the Kayakers. It was quickly established some of the group had become exhausted and suffering from sea sickness. Eleven of the group where transferred onto the large all weather Portrush Lifeboat whilst the Inshore Lifeboat escorted the one remaining kayaker back to Portballintrae Harbour.

The Portrush Lifeboat then transferred the eleven rescued kayakers who were mainly teenagers to the safety of Portrush Harbour.

Luckily none of the group required any medical attention.

Portrush lifeboat station adds:

Weather conditions were blustery and there was quite a swell off the coast. There was a North West wind coupled with a strong ebb tide. The tide was flowing against the wind, making conditions for the kayakers extremely difficult to return to shore. The Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) was launched first but it became clear the All-weather Lifeboat (ALB) was going to be needed to assist with the recovery of the party.

The ILB recovered 3 kayakers and returned them to Portballintrae. The ALB recovered the rest of the party and took them to Portrush Harbour.

The kayakers are safe and well, apart from suffering chronic sea sickness

Robin Cardwell Lifeboat Operations Manager said

'The fast response of the volunteer RNLI Lifeboat Crews from Portrush Station undoubtedly saved the lives of these kayakers. The sea and wind conditions made it virtually impossible for them to return to shore. Without the fast response of the crews at Portrush, this would have had a very different outcome'

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portrush RNLI Lifeboat 'David Roultson' will be named next Saturday, April 16th. The D class lifeboat will be named at a ceremony at Portrush Lifeboat Station at 2pm.

The lifeboat has been funded through a generous contribution from the Civil Service Lifeboat Fund and will be officially named by Sir Peter Housden KCB, Chairman of the Lifeboat Fund and Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government. 

Also on Saturday a special plaque will be unveiled at the station by Mr Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board in memory of David Roulston.  Over £25,000 was raised by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board staff and their families and friends for the upkeep and maintenance of the new inshore Portrush RNLI Lifeboat.

Robin Cardwell, Portrush Lifeboat Operations Manager who will be accepting the lifeboat on behalf of Portrush RNLI lifeboat station says; “It is fitting that we honour both these contributions in the name of our new lifeboat.  This lifeboat is the vessel that will carry our volunteer lifeboat crew out to sea to save lives and on it our lifeboat crew will learn and develop their skills through extensive training.” 

The D class lifeboat is built at a cost of £31,000.  It measures five metres in length and can carry three crewmembers onboard.  It is a fast, light weight inflatable that is small and highly manoeuvrable, making it ideal for rescue close to shore in fair to moderate conditions.  It can also be righted manually by the lifeboat crew in the event of a capsize.

All are welcome to attend the naming ceremony which will be held outside the lifeboat station in Portrush. There will be a special service of dedication and blessing and the lifeboat will put to sea after the ceremony.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Sligo IT fought off tough competition to take the top spot at the 2011 Irish Student National Surf Championships in Portrush last weekend.
Poor conditions on the Saturday morning forced a postponed start in the afternoon but Sligo raced to the front from the get go, winning the first ever stand up paddle.
UUC's Rory McNeary narrowly defeated Sligo's Christian McLeod in the men's longboard final, but the lead was regained by Ryan McEnroe and Nicole Schiffer in the men's and women's bodyboard finals.
And Ronan Oertzen – who also won the prize for the highest two-wave total - capped things off with a strong performance in the men's open to seal the title.
Meanwhile in the women's open, Easkey Britton of UUC took her third title at the championships, topping Queens University's Clare Stephens and Niamh Marie Smyth.

Sligo IT fought off tough competition to take the top spot at the 2011 Irish Student National Surf Championships in Portrush last weekend.

Poor conditions on the Saturday morning forced a postponed start in the afternoon but Sligo raced to the front from the get go, winning the first ever stand up paddle.

UUC's Rory McNeary narrowly defeated Sligo's Christian McLeod in the men's longboard final, but the lead was regained by Ryan McEnroe and Nicole Schiffer in the men's and women's bodyboard finals.

And Ronan Oertzen – who also won the prize for the highest two-wave total - capped things off with a strong performance in the men's open to seal the title.

Meanwhile in the women's open, Easkey Britton of UUC took her third title at the championships, topping Queens University's Clare Stephens and Niamh Marie Smyth.

Published in Surfing

A grateful family presented a cheque to Portrush lifeboat crew in thanks for saving their son this summer.
On 16th May 2010 both Portrush Lifeboats were launched to two separate incidents within one at 0922 hours and one at 0924 hours.
Within minutes two full volunteer crews had assembled and both the All-weather Lifeboat and the Inshore Lifeboat were launched. The Inshore Lifeboat was launched to reports of two young people in the water at Dhu Varren. Karl O'Neill was at the helm supported by Nick Christie and Jonathan Weston. Two youths had gone into the sea after a dog, and were starting to experience real difficulties in getting back to shore. One of the youths Damian Morris had sustained cuts to his arms and legs, was suffering hypothermia and was literally going under the water for the third time when the Portrush Lifeboat arrived on scene. Damian spent several days in hospital as a result of the incident and was delighted to be able to come to the station to meet the crew who had saved him that day.
Damian's uncle and Godfather Raymond Comac and his friend Paul McGuigan, do a lot of charity work in Damian's hometown in Omagh holding fundraisers to raise funds to take motorbikes out to South Africa for use by health care workers in the townships. However this year, they divided the proceeds between their charity and the RNLI, in recognition of the fact that the volunteer crew at Portrush had saved Damian's life.
Damian's parents Liam and Rosemary Morris, Damian himself and his uncle Raymond and friend Paul travelled to Portrush to meet the crew and hand over a cheque for £1000. Both Nick and Karl were overwhelmed by the generosity and stated;
'We don't do this for thanks, but it's so nice to meet someone that you have helped and for this amount to be raised is fantastic for the station'
The family got a tour of the station and had a look at the new Inshore lifeboat 'The David Roulston' which took over from the 'Ken and Mary' the boat that responded to the call that day....one of her last launches.

Cheque_Presentation_Nov_2010_055

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Published in RNLI Lifeboats
A Special plaque presented to Portrush Lifeboat in honour of those who have lost their lives On the 1st November 1889 the Portrush Lifeboat launched to a boat in peril at Portballintrae. A ship had been reported in difficulties near the White Rocks and the Portrush lifeboat 'The Robert and Agnes Blair' set off swept along the coast by high winds. Less than an hour later the lifeboat was lying damaged on the beach east of Portballintrae and, three of the crew that set out that night were dead. The Robert and Agnes Blair was a new Lifeboat and the third lifeboat to be sent to Portrush. The boat had been at Portrush barely and month and this was her first callout.
The three volunteer crew men who lost their lives were James McAlister, a local fisherman, William McNeill and Galbraith Hamilton Grills, the Chief Officer of the Coastguard at Portrush.
To-day on the anniversary of that tragic night, William McNeill's great grandson Ronald Handy and his wife Lily presented the Station with a plaque in memory of the three crew men who lost their lives on that November night in 1889.
On an interesting note, Tracey McAlister the great great granddaughter of James McAlister is presently the press officer for Portrush Fundraising team, thus continuing the family links with the Lifeboat.
Published in RNLI Lifeboats
14th October 2010

Portrush Surf Cam Goes Live

Surfing action from Portrush can now be enjoyed from all around the world following the launch of a live webcam at Whiterocks Beach.

Martin Kelly of Portrush Surf School teamed up with the town's Royal Court Hotel to set up the webcam at the popular surfing spot as a tool for travelling waveriders to check out conditions from a distance.

"By checking the webcam they can now see first hand exactly what the waves are doing, saving them time and money on a potentially wasted journey," the former Irish surfing champion told the Coleraine Times. "This is a case of know before you go."

The movable camera will allow for many different views of the Co Antrim beach that will surely appeal to more than surfing fans.

To view the webcam visit www.portrushsurfschool.com

Published in Surfing

Local French teacher Gary Knox has completed his swim from Rathlin to Ballycastle for Portrush Lifeboat Station on the very day that the station was celebrating its 150th Anniversary.
Gerry Doran Chairman of the Ballycastle Fundraising Branch texted the station at the start of the race and then at the end to confirm that Gary had completed his amazing feat!
This information was then relayed to the people who had gathered in Portrush for the Service of Thanksgiving and Vellum presentation.
Shelley Pinkerton, Chairman of the Portrush Fundraising Branch said
'This is an example of the innovative ways that people come up with to raise funds for the RNLI. It's very fitting that Gary completed the swim on the very day we are gathered to celebrate Portrush Lifeboat Station 150 years of saving lives at sea'
Gary who was not wearing wetsuit swam approximately 7 miles in 2 hours 55 minutes. The swim was for the RNLI and in memory of his friend and training partner, Ciaran McGinn who completed the endurance swim in 2007 and raised funds for his charity, Ballycastle RNLI.
Gary was accompanied by Portrush kayakers who followed the rib and provided him with energy drink every hour. In accordance with ILDSA rules, Gary was not permitted to touch the boat or kayak. Donations can still be made online at justgiving.com/gary-knox and there are collection boxes in the shops along the prom in Ballycastle.
Gary would like to thank Alan Wilson of Aquasports for providing boat cover, John Morton for advice and guidance, members of the Ballycastle Fundraising Branch and others for their assistance in organising the event.

Gary_Knox_coming_to_the_finnish

Gary nears the finish line

Published in Sea Swim

A service of thanksgiving marked the start of a year of events to celebrate Portrush Lifeboat Station's 150 years of saving lives at sea. The volunteer lifeboat crewmembers, fundraisers and supporters held a service in Portrush with the Inshore Boat 'The Ken and Mary' making her last appearance as a Portrush Lifeboat.

The event was held exactly 150 years after Laura, the Countess of Antrim helped establish the Lifeboat Station on the North Coast.

The service started with James Heaney, Chairman of Portrush Lifeboat Station giving a brief history of the station. Michael Hassan and Shay Reynolds sang a song that Michael had composed for the station called 'You're never on your own' and Ballywillan Band played the crews favourite hymns. By coincidence the band unveiled their new crest which includes a rope ring, a nod to their close relationship with the lifeboat station.
.
Father Sheehan, Reverend Simpson, Pastor Todd and Rev Kirkpatrick all did readings and prayers reflecting the dedication of the volunteer crews to saving lives at sea. Karl O'Neill one of the youngest crew members read the 'Lifeboat Prayer'

After the service John D Coyle MEconSc Chairman RNLI Ireland Council handed over a vellum to Robin Cardwell, Lifeboat Operations Manager. Mr Coyle praised the work of the crews and teams attached to the station and congratulated everyone on reaching this milestone. He reflected on the advances in technology which has made the lifeboats ever more sophisticated, but how the RNLI still depend on volunteers to crew them.

Robin accepted the vellum and thanked everyone for attending especially crew families who wait at home when the crews are out at sea. He thanked the crews for their dedication and commitment to training both on station and at Poole. He said that the vellum would be hung with pride at the station. Coxswain Willie McAuley presented Mr Coyle with a signed book on the history of the station and Shelley Pinkerton, Chairman of the Fundraising Team, proposed the vote of thanks to Mr Coyle, and reminded everyone why fundraising was so important to the RNLI.

After the formal proceedings ended Limavady Big Band sound played a medley of swing sounds which entertained everyone while friends past and present reminisced.

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Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under
10th September 2010

New Lifeboat for Portrush

The volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew at Portrush have taken delivery of a brand new state of the art Inshore lifeboat and have wasted no time in putting the new lifeboat through its paces.

The new £30,000 lifeboat is named David Roulston (Civil Service No. 52) and replaces the previous lifeboat Ken and Mary D -572 which arrived on station in February 2002. The Ken and Mary was launched 151 times, saving 9 lives, landing 15 persons and bringing in a further 31 people, giving a total rescued of 55.
This new inshore lifeboat was funded by the Civil Service Lifeboat Fund which raised the funds for the lifeboat via staff fundraising within the civil service across the UK and Northern Ireland. Following the tragic drowning of their colleague David Roulston, the staff at Northern Ireland Tourist Board fundraised to cover the upkeep and maintenance of the new lifeboat which has been named in memory of David.
The new boat has a bigger engine 50hp as opposed to 40hp, better stowage and a GPS plotter. The boat is also much faster and thus will be quicker in terms of saving lives at sea around the North Coast.
Speaking about the arrival of the new boat Lifeboat, Operations Manager Robin Cardwell said,

"The crew are very impressed with the performance of their new lifeboat. They have already had intensive training sessions on the boat and are delighted to have it on station in Portrush. The new boat has arrived just as the Station is celebrating its 150th Anniversary and I have no doubt that 'David Roulston' (Civil Service 52) will play a big part in the station's future"

L1020520

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Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under
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