On Friday morning we packed up St Baldred and headed up to Loch Tummel, the Cowan car plus Jax (the pine martens) and the tow car, Simpson Wallace and Ann, (the otters) ready to compete in the Freshwater Sprints with South East Region. Little did we know what a journey it was going to be..
The pine martens got a message on Google maps to divert round about Loch Earn, which we decided, she knew best, we had no idea where we were, but every corner was a wow, the colours and countryside were spectacular. Fabulous driving by Simon and co driven by Lizzie, like being in a rally car, but much safer. The otters stuck, literally, to the M90/A9 and experienced huge tail backs, road works, flooding you name it…at least they had a boat if it got too deep.
We were all booked in for the 2 courses put on by the SCRA, one on course laying and the other for umpires. Pine martens arrived about 15 mins after they started, and seeing the bath tub motor boat leaving the shore, I was glad I wasn't on that. We heated up, ate and drank plenty of hot drinks, whilst the teaching continued on land, ably put on by Stuart, Ralph and Andy, who were all very patient and with great model boats a white board and coloured pens, what more do you need.
Otters arrived an hour and a half later, after an epic 5 hour journey, but in time for the umpires course which was really informative. After the course we set off for our accommodation, the Loch Rannoch Highland Club, a spectacular 25 mins drive away. Built on the side of a steep hill, the apartments were very well equipped, clean and spacious with amazing views over the Loch, if you wiped the rain smattered enclosed balcony windows. Lizzie, Simon and Jax were staying in a Pine Marten apartment whilst Claire, Sandy and Ann were in an Otter apartment.
Otters were on dinner duties so pine martens settled in, played hunt the duvet and packed up our food to head up the steep hill for an evening of hilarity and chats round the table, a great opportunity to relax.
Saturday dawned very wet, blowing a gale, but we layered up, packed every set of waterproofs and cosy footwear with a backup set too, and had a beautiful drive back to the sailing club where all the other regions were arriving. It was a brilliant spectacle of colours on the shores as well as the countryside.
After breakfast rolls we were ready to row. Racing was fast and furious, 500 metre sprint to a starboard turn buoy and 250 back to finish at the starters hut. The hooter ringing out in the valley as each region passed the finish. It's a great opportunity to row with others, but styles and coxing can be quite different and challenging especially over such a short course. It is all down to tight turns and belting it back as quickly as possible.
We put all our umpires’ course work to the test looking at all the different roles both on the water and on shore. Being on the safety boat was actually great fun, watching for any infringements, crossing of lanes and tight turns. We coxed, rowed and managed plenty of chats, catching up with long term skiffie family members all helped along with food a plenty in the sailing club.
North and West took the overall prize but we did get gold in the 230+ mixed with a mainly NBRC crew too, lovely medals. Well done.
Claire, Ann and Sandy stayed on for the SCRA AGM, while Simon, Jacque and Lizzie headed back to get ready for an evening of mulling over all we'd learnt, and how to put it all into practice. Exciting times ahead in our skiffie journeys. Also managed to enjoy the rugby finals too, and delicious food.
After a hearty breakfast we packed up and headed back to pick up St Baldred, changing to the Cowan’s towing, a pleasant journey home to a very wet NB. We would highly recommend sprints, great fun, good rowing and an opportunity to socialise. Some do just drive up for the day but also so good to stay over and enjoy our last regatta of the year to the full.
Other pictures of the weekend can be found here
Bring on winter training, 2024 regattas and heading onto the Worlds 2025