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Where did NIOGA start?

In 1989, the OGA in Northern Ireland consisted of just four persons, the late Alan Hidden, Alan Aston, Irene Aston and Adrian Spence. The two Alans met whilst sailing on Strangford Lough in August the same year and, following a meeting held in the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, the NIOGA was formed seeing membership jump from four to 30.

Alan Aston was the first Area President. Alan steered the NIOGA in the right direction and before long the Area was financially secure and had a membership of almost 90 persons. We had about 20 true gaff rigged craft in our membership and a further 20 boats with different rigs. We held our annual race in the early years in Strangford Lough. In 1991 we moved this to Carrickfergus with Classic Sail Carrickfergus. This was a very successful event, with 120 boats registered in 1993. We moved the area race to Bangor in 1996 to run Bangor Traditional Sail for ten years, again a very successful event. In 2008 we moved the event back to Carrickfergus, but in a much smaller format, remaining her until 2013.

NIOGA is a smaller organisation than it once was, but is still a vibrant Association. We hold four winter evenings with talks and quizzes. Our sailing sees us meeting during the summer at various regattas around the province. Back-issues of our newsletter, Gaffers Jaw are available to download below.

Photo credit: 'Gaffers gather in Belfast, 2013' by Alan Aston