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100th Anniversary of the River Class Celebrated on Strangford Lough

28th June 2021
Rivers on the run at the Strangford Lough Centenary Event
Rivers on the run at the Strangford Lough Centenary Event Credit: Patrick Hobson

The River Class is the oldest class racing on Strangford Lough and the past weekend saw a notable celebration of its 100th Anniversary – notable because all 12 boats which first raced at Royal Ulster Yacht Club on Belfast Lough, graced the waters off Whiterock, the whole fleet having eventually moved there.

Designed by legendary naval architect Alfred Mylne, the 29-foot Rivers can trace their origins back to 1919 when Belfast Lough sailors were looking for a simple and elegant one-design class to race. That same twelve turned out on the weekend of 26th /27th and provided for the crews the competitive close racing for which the class is known.

Rivers  racing at their Centenary event on Strangford Lough Photo: Elaine HicksRivers racing at their Centenary event on Strangford Lough Photo: Elaine Hicks

Six windward-leeward races set by Race Officer Peter Gault and his team on the Committee boat, Clara Rose, enjoyed favourable conditions on both days with a northerly wind (which on Belfast Lough was kicking up quite a sea), overcast on the Saturday but sparkling in the sunshine yesterday. (Sunday).

Tight racing in the Rivers for the Centenary races Photo: Patrick HobsonTight racing in the Rivers for the Centenary races Photo: Patrick Hobson

The Smyth brothers, Graham in Enler and Kenny in Laragh, dominated the competition with Graham narrowly beating his brother counting two firsts, two seconds and a third-place to take the Cup presented for the 75th Anniversary of the class in 1996. Kenny posted two firsts, a second and two thirds. In third slot was new owner Peter Burrows who ended his run with a first in Uladh, the only boat not to be named after a River but famous nonetheless for having as its first owner the Lady Londonderry of Mount Stewart on the opposite side of the Lough. The first place in the fifth race went to the trio who own Faughan – James Nixon, John Witchell and David Lindsay.

The Rivers Laragh (left) and Enler Photo: Patrick HobsonThe Rivers Laragh (left) and Enler Photo: Patrick Hobson

The next outing for the Rivers will be the four day Narrows regatta starting 9th July, organised by Portaferry and Strangford on opposite sides of the entrance to the Lough, with its fast-flowing tide sure to make interesting racing.

Enler (Graham Smyth) Photo: Patrick HobsonThe River Enler (Graham Smyth) Photo: Patrick Hobson

Published in Historic Boats
Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong

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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.

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