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The Ruffian

Northern Ireland takes great pride in its boat building heritage, watch masters at work in Portaferry with news rushes from Ulster Television

News 1974 4 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Northern Ireland Screen


Portaferry is a home of Weatherly Yachts renowned for their quality fibreglass boats that go by the name of Ruffian. The original Ruffian was a 33ft Ocean Racer designed and built by brothers Dickie and Billy Brown in 1969-70. Most of Billy’s designs were born in creative bursts around 3am. “When I can think most clearly as at that time the ether isn’t clustered with other people’s ideas”. Ruffian was an immense success that started the remarkable family business in this film.

Billy describes her first voyage “In the first week of May 1971 Ruffian took to the sea in a lovely coat of deep royal blue paint. She was in her element. She floated to her water lines to an extent I could only have hoped for. I steered her out to a moorings under engine and was amazed at how responsive she was to the tiller. She is magic.” Weatherly Yachts built over 200 yachts during 1970’s and 1980’s. This had a great impact on the local sailing scene and fleets of Ruffians can be found in Ireland, Hong Kong and scattered around the globe. Dickie, who turned Billy’s designs into reality, devoted his career towards increasing the prosperity and quality of life in Portaferry. This material is courtesy of the UTV Archive.