1st 2nd 3rd August 2003
2003 Rally Report
Over the weekend of 1-3 August 2003, the River Bann and Lough Neagh Association held its annual boat rally on Lough Neagh. Most of the 44 rally boats and crews assembled at Ballyronan Marina on the Friday evening with the remainder joining on Saturday morning. It was a great sight to see the Marina well filled with a colourful array of boats. Some skippers had dressed their boats overall for the occasion.
The catering arrangements in the Community Hall at Ballyronan, under the skilful supervision of May Devlin and her band of helpers from Toome and Ballyronan Development Association, were superb. Dinner was served on the Friday evening, followed by music and dancing until the ‘wee small hours’. A full cooked breakfast was served on Saturday morning which set everyone up for the day ahead.
After briefings for skippers the sailing fleet of 20 racing yachts started their race at 12.30 from Ballyronan, round Ram’s Island and back to the Battery Harbour at Ardboe. Weather conditions were excellent and the sailors enjoyed a lively race. We are indebted to Paddy Prunty, Greg McConville, Michael Stevenson and David Leighton for organising the sailing event.
Meanwhile it had been decided that the wind direction was unsuitable for the cruisers to go to Gawley’s Gate so they stayed in the shelter of the Western shore. The cruisers were led by Stephen McElroy, on board ‘Western Star’, to the Battery Harbour to meet the sailors. All participants had time to rest in preparation for the demands of the Saturday night activities. It is rumoured that partying continued for some until the sun came up the next day.
An excellent BBQ for all was organised by The Battery Harbour Company Ltd. Following this was the prizegiving and more entertainment. Many thanks are due to Patrick Quinn for hosting us at The Battery. On Sunday morning skippers chose their own time to return home, vowing to return next year. It was a most relaxed and enjoyable weekend.
The Rally Sub Committee expresses sincere thanks to CarrickCraft who were our main sponsors and to all who assisted in any way to make such a success of the weekend. We thank all skippers and crews who travelled from all parts of the Lough and the Lower Bann to take part. This event is now firmly established and RBLNA is planning other events to increase usage of the Waterway and to add to the camaraderie that already exists.
The Rally Sub Committee consisted of Victor (Chair) and Jacqueline Hamill (Hon Sec), the sailing organisers already mentioned, Stephen McElroy, Michael Savage, Charles Douglas (prize coordinator) and John Kane who organised the Grand Draw.
Class B Sailing Boat Winner – David King (Eroica)
Class A Sailing Boat Winner – Norman Watterson (Free Expression)
Craigavon Challenge Cup - Norman Watterson
Excellence in Safety - Stephen Francey (Eldori)
Boat of the Year - Stephen McElroy (Western Star)
Most Elegant Boat - Derek Gibson (Eilander)
The Jim McGarry Cup - Michael Savage (Author of Pilot Book Services to Lough Neagh)
Furthest travelled by Road - John Freeburn (Fish Hawk)
Furthest travelled by Water - Victor Hamill (Sirenian)
Oldest Yacht - Richard Butler (Rasulka)
Oldest Cruiser - Jim Wilson (Wilmeranda)
Smallest Boat on the Rally - Angus McGaughey (Fermain)
Gin Palace - Noel Owens (Thunderbird Free)
Youngest on the Rally - Elvina McElhonen 8 months (Leona Sue)
Best Crew Member - Jacqueline Twinem (Free Expression)