50TH Ailsa Craig Race
It was a miserable wet night in mid-June when the eighteen strong fleet set off on the 50th Anniversary Ailsa Craig race but the conditions certainly didn't dampen the spirits of the competitors. The course for this classic of the Royal Ulster calendar is from the club line in Bangor, round the rock at the mouth of the Clyde and back. Winner of this very special event was Kenneth Halliwell's She 31, She of the North who topped the IRC division. Tony Weston's Madonlin Wind was first home in just under 13 hours with most of the rest of the
fleet arriving within the next hour. George Baird's Chimaera won the IRC Whitesail division and Rob Armstrong took the prize in the CYCA section. The CYCA Whitesail fleet was topped by Lyn Johnston's Elva.
Despite the day starting off with heavy winds, at least for the acutal race which started at 8pm, winds had moderated to give a short beat to the South Briggs and then a fetch to the Rock and thereafter a short spinnaker run which ended up in another fetch.
This was a very special occasion in that several of the competitors had raced in the 1962 inaugural event and turned out again fifty years later. Among these was Darty Glover, now in his Eighties, who travelled from Australia, John Taylor from New Zealand who joined with Dickie Brown and Michael McKee to up the average age considerably! Two records were set this year. For the first time ever there was an all girl entry! Lee Stevenson's Team Blue Flag Boats and her gritty girls raced her father's Beneteau First 42 and although they didn't get a podium finish, did put in an admirable performance. And the youngest competitor, 13 year-old Jody Thallon crewed in John Moorehead's Margarita. A dinner attended by 200 sailors and friends rounded off a memorable weekend. The even was generously sponsored by Hamilton Shippping.
Picture courtesy Vivienne Beck