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Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Irish Ruffian Association

24th September 2009

Courtesy of the irish Ruffian Association website:

story.jpg The Ruffian 23 is a 23 foot keelboat which was designed and built by brothers Dickie and Billy Brown of Portaferry, Co. Down, 35 years ago. The Ruffian 23 is a great one design racing boat, an extremely family-friendly boat, and despite its size, the Ruffian 23 has cruised waters around Ireland, the UK, and further afield. Approximately 200 Ruffians were built and many are still raced regularly in Dun Laoghaire, Wicklow, Skerries, Baltimore, Carrickfergus, Strangford Lough, around the Clyde, the Isle of Man, and even as far afield as Hong Kong and Uruguay.

An annual feature of the Irish Ruffian calendar is the North v. South Team Racing event which is held alternately in Carrickfergus and in Dun Laoghaire.

The Dun Laoghaire Ruffians also hold an annual inter-club team racing event with the most recent event being contested by the National Yacht Club, the Royal St. George Yacht Club, the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, and Wicklow Sailing Club. It was held on June 29th and the holders, the National Yacht Club, retained the title.

The Irish Ruffian 23 National Championships took place over the weekend June 12–14 2009, hosted by the Royal St. George Yacht Club. Over 16 boats competed in a 7-race series over the 3 days.
Regional events take place each year – the Northern Championships hosted by Carrickfergus Sailing Club, the South East Coast Regatta hosted by Wicklow Sailing Club, and the South Coast Championships hosted by Baltimore Sailing Club.

A good fleet of Ruffians competes in the annual Lambay race, and a Ruffian, Shannagh, was the proud winner of the Lambay Lady trophy in 2004.

The original Ruffian was a 33ft Ocean Racer designed and built by brothers Billy & Dickie Brown in 1969/70. Such was her success that the brothers set up Weatherly Yachts and went into production with a smaller 23ft model.

Graham Smith wrote, in Afloat's March 2009 issue: "2008 marked the 35th anniversary of the Ruffians and the class celebrated by taking to the water in locations as far afield as Wicklow, Carrickfergus, Strangford Lough, Baltimore, Schull, the Isle of Man, Uruguay and Hong Kong! The Dublin Bay fleet assembled in a cruise-in-company in Dalkey Sound for some revelry to mark the occasion.   

In Ireland, there are 70 boats on the Ruffian books and while that figure is static, the fact that Schull has become a new venue is obviously a positive feature for the class enthusiasts. They will lose one enthusiast for next season though, with veteran Sean Murray retiring after 20 years of racing and extensively cruising his boat Icicle which will doubtless remain on the scene.

The highlight of the Ruffian competitive year is the National Championships and Derek Mitchell and the crew of Ruff Nuff from the Royal St George YC made it three wins in a row, finishing ahead of Robbie Keys from Skerries (who won the Traveller’s Trophy for his efforts) and 19 other boats. Next year, a team of 24 Ruffian sailors will travel to Hong Kong on St Patrick’s weekend for a team racing event against their Far East hosts. National Champion 2009: Derek Mitchell, Royal St George YC."

Irish Ruffian Association, c/o Cathy Booth, Secretary, 20 Highfield Grove, Rathgar, Dublin 6. Tel 01 496 2365, email: [email protected]


Bruce Carswell, Class Captain, email: [email protected] 


Alan Claffey, Hon. Secretary, tel: 087 818 0077, email: [email protected]

There is a space for Irish boating clubs and racing classes to use as their own bulletin board and forum for announcements and discussion. If you want to see a dedicated forum slot for your club or class, click here 

Published in Classes & Assoc Team

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