Portrush Raft Race Weekend 2017

35 years of raft racing in aid of the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea.

Portrush Raft Race takes place annually as part of a jam-packed bank holiday weekend of harbour-side family mayhem and fun.  Sponsored once again in 2017 by our neighbours, Ramore Restaurants, both are well love fixtures of the popular County Antrim town.

As well as being enormous fun on the beautiful north coast, it’s an important annual event for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the community of Portrush.   All the funds raised by Portrush Raft Race go directly to the local RNLI branch.

Portrush Lifeboat, the William Gordon Burr, keeps coastal communities and visitors safe across a huge area, stretching from Ballycastle and the Scottish island of Islay westward to Lough Foyle.  With a single Lifeboat launch costing in the region of £6,000 this enjoyable weekend of silliness and fun has a very serious and real beneficial impact for everyone.

Raft Race

Portrush Raft Race has eleven prizes up for grabs, recognising not just the competition, but also the craic and fundraising efforts.

  • Overall winner
  • 2nd place
  • 3rd place
  • First all-female crew over the finish line
  • Best fancy dress/theme
  • Outstanding raft design
  • Most originally-named raft
  • Most heroic failure
  • Furthest travelled raft team
  • Most money raised and presented on the day
  • Best raft-building video shared on social media

 

Colouring-in competition (local schools)

  • 1st
  • 2nd
  • 3rd
  • Highly commended
  • 1st prize-winner’s school

 

Junior Raft Race

  • 1st
  • 2nd
  • 3rd
  • Goodie bags for all participants

 

Rookie Lifeguard Challenge

  • 1st
  • 2nd
  • 3rd
  • Goodie bags

 

Plus more events to be announced…

Raft Race History.

The first Portrush Raft Race took place in 1982.  It was the result of a friendship that existed between two Johns.  John Scott worked for Portrush Lifeboat while his friend John McNally co-owned the Harbour Bar.

In 1981 RNLI Lifeboat magazine featured a raft race successfully run by Oban’s station to raise funds.  The two Johns read the article and agreed with one another that Portrush’s West Bay would make the ideal setting for a similar event locally.  Regulars of the bar volunteered to offer their support, and so the first Raft Race committee was born.

Everyone agreed that fun was central to the event, and so prize categories were devised to incorporate raft design and costumes.

The first raft race, which took place the following May, attracted 39 entries.  Rafts ranged from basic through to the Quinquireme of Nineveh which came complete with galley slaves, skeltons, and albatross and shark. The day was a roaring success – raising over £3,000 (£10,000 in today’s money) for the local lifeboat station.

The efforts of John Scott and John McNally are commemorated with the Two Johns Trophy, which is presented to the team which raise the most money at each Raft Race.

FAQs

When is the raft race?

There is a full programme of events running all weekend (May 27 & 28).  The raft race itself takes place on Saturday afternoon at 3.30pm.

How much is it?

It’s free to come and join in the festivities all weekend.  If you want to enter a raft we ask that your team raises a minimum of £120.

How can I enter a raft?

Download an entry form and rules from the website.  We ask that each raft raises a minimum of £120 each to be eligible.

What’s the deadline for entry?

You can enter right up until 2pm on the day of the race.  Demand is expected to be high, so we do advise you get in quick rather than leave it to the last minute!

I can’t build a raft.  Can you help?

Yes, we have some of previous years’ rafts available to rent for a donation to RNLI.  Contact Pat on entries@portrushraftrace.com or 07546 941 721

What age do I have to be?

Rafters must be over 18.

Oh.  I’m under 18 and wanted to enter…

No problem.  We have a brilliant junior raft race that runs in the morning for those aged 6-15.  Turn up at the pontoon and register on the day from 10.30am.

How does the junior raft race work?  Will it be suitable for my child?

Turn up and register at the pontoon on the day from 10.30am.  Entry fee is £2 per child, two kids per raft, with the race taking place in heats.

The course

  • Each team must paddle their raft from the pontoon around a buoy in the harbour.
  • There will be a handicap scoring system in place, to ensure a fair competition for all ages.
  • Each child will receive a goody bag.
  • The Robert Lynn shield will be presented to the winning team at the prize-giving immediately after the race.

Safety Information

  • All rafts, paddles and life jackets will be supplied.
  • The RNLI inshore lifeboat and Causeway Coast Kayak Association will be on hand to ensure safety.
  • It’s advisable to wear a wetsuit but it is not essential.  Please wear suitable footwear e.g. old trainers, booties etc.
  • It is advisable that all participants can swim and are comfortable being in the sea.

Bring a friend and come and join the fun!

How do I rent a pitch for a stand during Raft Race weekend?

Give Pat a call on 07546 941 721.

LIFEBOAT LAUNCHES 2015

PEOPLE ASSISTED BY LIFEGUARDS

POUNDS COST PER LIFEBOAT LAUNCH

Fun for all the Family

We’ve a huge amount planned for the weekend.  There’s guaranteed to be something for everyone to enjoy.

Our sponsors at Ramore Restaurants have another Sunday afternoon of fun planned.  This includes Dog Day Afternoon, the largest daft gathering of four-legged friends ever seen at the Port; a food, craft and music village and by way of a grand finale, The Great Harbour Escape featuring Irish magician Rodd Hogg.

LIFEBOAT TOURS

Tours of current and historic Lifeboats

Tours of Portrush Lifeboat, William Gordon Burr are subject to emergency response requirements. Historic Joseph Soar Lifeboat was withdrawn from service in 1990, throughout her life she was launched 135 times and saved 135 lives.

    WEST BAY SWIM

    1km open water swim

    This challenging event attracts entrants from all over Ireland. Swimmers are dropped off by boat at Black Rock to swim the 1km back to the harbour, finishing at the slipway on the North Pier. Wetsuits not allowed!

      JUNIOR RAFT RACE

      for 6-15 year olds

      One for our Raft Race stars of the future. Fun mini-races in the safety of the harbour. Turn up and register at the pontoon on the day.  Entry fee is £2 per child, two kids per raft, with the race taking place in heats. 

        STORMY STAN

        Selfies with Stormy Stan

        Stormy Stan is the busy Storm Force mascot, RNLI's club which helps little ones discover the exciting world of lifeboats and lifeguards. The best selfie tweeted using #stormystan and #portrushraft will win a prize.

          Programme of Events

          Programme subject to change while it is being finalised.

          Can’t make it to the raft race weekend, but still want to support this brilliant cause?  No problem!

          To donate £5 text RNLIPORTRUSH to 70300. Your text will cost £5 plus your usual message cost.  100% of your £5 goes direct to Portrush Raft Race.

          10:00AM - 2:00PM
          Raft Registration (Kerr Street Green)

          All raft teams to report to registration on arrival.

          Free advice on safety in and around our coastline, along with free lifejacket checks. Last year we discovered 289 lifejackets that would not have worked had they been used and 70 manufacturers' recalls.

          One for our Raft Race stars of the future. Fun mini-races in the safety of the harbour. Turn up and register at the pontoon from 10:30AM.  Entry fee is £2 per child, two kids per raft, with the race taking place in heats.  Full details in our FAQ section.

          Bouncy castles, slides and a whole lot more fun c/o Cromore Castles.

          Tours of Portrush Lifeboat, 'William Gordon Burr', are subject to emergency response requirements. Historic 'Joseph Soar' Lifeboat was withdrawn from service in 1990, throughout her life she was launched 135 times and saved 135 lives.

          RNLI beach lifeguards invite kids aged 10-15 to have a go at some basic lifeguarding skills. From a beach start, competitors will complete a short sea swim, followed by a knee paddle on a surf rescue board. The timed challenge will finish with a run along the beach. Do you have what it takes to be a lifeguarding star of the future?

          Portrush Lifeboats and Lifeguard teams showcase their amazing rescue skills. Live onshore commentary by Mark Mitchell, Deputy 2nd Coxwain.

          Stormy Stan is the busy Storm Force mascot, RNLI's club which helps little ones discover the exciting world of lifeboats and lifeguards. The best selfie tweeted using #stormystan and #portrushraft will win a prize.

          Tug of war challenge for rafting teams.

          The main event of the day. With 11 prizes up for grabs competition is sure to be fierce. Safety announcement at 3:25.

          Presentation of prizes by Matt McAlpin (Ramore Restaurants) and Alan Simpson.

          10:00AM - 11:00PM
          Beach Yoga (West Strand)

          Everyone is welcome to join in our yoga taster session.

          Come and watch expert teams battle it out on two beach courts.

          Bouncy castles, slides and a whole lot more fun c/o Cromore Castles.

          An exciting new event to kick off Sunday's programme of events. All are welcome to come and test their welly chucking skills. Prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each category: under 10's, 11-16's, 16+ male, 16+ female.

          Harbour-side coffee shop Babushka will supply those brave enough to swim, dip or bathe in the Atlantic Ocean with warm drinks and tasty treats. In return for a donation to RNLI this exciting new event is open to everyone– wetsuits are of course, optional.

          Trogg’s Surf School will be on hand at the ‘wee beach’ to offer SUP paddle board taster sessions in return for a small donation to the RNLI.

          Come and watch the mayhem unfold with a series of short races and fun SUP challenges taking place around the lifeboat. Showcasing the growing sport of paddleboarding, this promises good fun and enjoyment for spectators and participants alike.

          Free advice on safety in and around our coastline, along with free lifejacket checks. Last year we discovered 289 lifejackets that would not have worked had they been used and 70 manufacturers' recalls.

          Tours of Portrush Lifeboat, 'William Gordon Burr', are subject to emergency response requirements. Historic 'Joseph Soar' Lifeboat was withdrawn from service in 1990, throughout her life she was launched 135 times and saved 135 lives.

          This challenging event attracts entrants from all over Ireland. After the 1pm safety briefing swimmers are dropped off by boat at Island Dhu/Blackrock to swim the 1km back to the harbour, finishing at the slipway on the North Pier. Wetsuits not allowed!

          Coleraine & District Historic Vehicle Club present their classic cars and bikes.

          Our sponsors at Ramore Restaurants have another Sunday afternoon of fun planned.  This includes Scrufts, a fun dog show and the largest daft gathering of four-legged friends ever seen at the Port; a food, craft and music village and by way of a grand finale, The Great Harbour Escape featuring Irish magician Rodd Hogg.

          Portrush Raft Race Weekend Sponsors

          PORTRUSH RAFT RACE 2017 IS SPONSORED BY

          Special thanks to generous raft race supporters:

          Enter a Raft

          We will email you a link to the entry pack when you complete this form.





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          Send us your raft-building videos!

          Email us a link or tweet your video with the hashtags #portrushraft #raftbuilding. There’s a brilliant prize for the best one!

          Find us

          • Kerr Street, Portrush, Co. Antrim BT56 8DQ
          • hello@portrushraftrace.com
          • 07546 941 721