Taking time out from tending blistered bits of body to write up our report of an amazing weekend hosted by Islay Rowing Club. The mere fact of travelling by ferry lends an air of adventure to any expedition and this was no exception. We were treated to a most beautiful two hour cruise under blue skies from Kennacraig to Port Ellen in the south of Islay. Our accommodation for the next three days was “The Nest” a recently refurbished traditional Islay house which was just ideal. On Friday evening we made contact with our hosts in The Islay Hotel to run through the itinerary for the next couple of days. Racing was planned for Saturday and recreational rowing for Sunday, so an early night would have been a good idea!
Saturday dawned dampish( Hissing down with thunder and lightning!) but luckily the serious business of racing was planned for early evening so we took advantage of the time to stretch our legs on the path from Port Ellen to Ardbeg via Laphroaig and Lagavulin! It was amazing to stagger across so many famous names contained within so few square miles!
At 5 we donned our red gear and sallied forth to uphold the honour of NBRC. However, Islay Rowing Club had other plans and we put names in a hat to form teams taken from both clubs. This proved to be enormous fun and, as always, it was really interesting to see how other clubs set up their boats and to pick up tips from their style of rowing. We had ladies’, men’s and mixed racing in three of the five Islay skiffs: Lily Bheag, Bluebell and Bonnie Anne. Competition was fierce, and hugely enjoyed by all of us.
We rounded off the evening with a barbecue on the harbour side where huge amounts of Malteser cake were consumed by the author and friendships cemented.
To our utter delight, recreational rowing on Sunday seemed to involve rowing from one distillery to the next, sampling a range of Islay Malts as we went on our merry way!
Phil’s face was split from ear to ear by a huge cheesy grin which grew steadily wider as the day progressed! Against all the odds, we managed to row back to Port Ellen where the endless hospitality of our hosts saw us leaving the Islay Hotel each bearing a bottle of Islay Malt Whisky!
We had an unforgettable weekend and our thanks must go to Islay Rowing Club for their friendship and hospitality which epitomised the true spirit of Coastal Rowing.