What a day!

AND THEY'RE OFF...BBC's Alan Simpson who compered The Portrush Raft Race on Saturday. CR22 206MJ
AND THEY'RE OFF...BBC's Alan Simpson who compered The Portrush Raft Race on Saturday. CR22 206MJ

THE 30th Portrush Raft Race took place this weekend at the harbour in Portrush.

Sponsored once again by the Causeway SPAR Retail Group, the weekend was a total success even though the weather threatened to scupper the event. Early on Friday morning the Safety Committee met to discuss weather conditions and it was feared that the race would have to be cancelled, but hope prevailed and by Saturday it was clear that the race could go ahead albeit in the Harbour.

This did not dampen the spirits and enthusiasm of the rafters one bit. The craic at the start line was amazing and all spectators had a view of rafts as they peddled, pushed, nudged their way towards the Lifeboat and the chequered flag.

Each raft got a rousing cheer as they went on their way and got cheered the entire way round the harbour wall. All 74 Rafts were steered to the finishing line by the safety team in kayaks and ribs.

Radio Ulster’s Alan Simpson cajoled and heckled from the safety of one of the safety boats and compered the event in his own inimitable way to perfection.

The Lifeboat crew joined forces with the RNLI Lifeguards for the first time in Portrush to put on a rescue display showing off their rescue skills.

One of the highlights of the day was local band ‘Wipe-out’ playing for the first time in years, this all added to the atmosphere as the sun continue to beat down in between the showers.

The Raft Race Committee would like to thanks all the rafters for sharing the optimism and taking to the sea for what was a brilliant day.

Overall winner was Fyfin Flyer from Newtownstewart with Torpedo from Dromore and Atlantic Charger from Cookstown coming in second and third respectively.

The Fancy Dress winner was the Striking Viking from Portrush. The winner of the Best Name was The Soggy Mattress from Dromore.

Best Designed Raft was Bananarama from Moneymore

Most Heroic Failure was No Hope from Portstewart.

On Sunday, the now traditional service of thanksgiving took place in the Town Hall with local ministers taking part.

Then the ever-popular Waiters’ Race took off from the harbour, with local pubs and bars entering a waiter to manoeuvre the obstacles set by the cunning Waiters’ Race Team. Thanks to Alan McFadden and Rodney Byrne for the brilliant organisation.

The Bayview Hotel were first past the post to win the race but it was Sharman Crawford from the Ramore Winebar who, as always, raised the most money.

The weekend was a success despite the weather thanks to the Raft Race volunteers, Coleraine Borough Council and, of course, the rafters themselves who always turn out whatever the conditions. All this of course raises vital funds for Portrush Lifeboats for which the crew are very grateful.

Maryna Wylie Chair of Raft Race Committee said: “Despite all the mayhem and madness we are here to raise funds for the lifeboats and the volunteer crews. We are indebted to the rafters who put their hearts and souls into the race and to our volunteers who willingly give their time to help with the event.

“We would also like to thank our sponsors Causeway SPAR retail group for their support in both money and time. Roll on next year!”