Well this was the big one a small but very fit 21 headed up to Ullapool. With the forecast changing by the hour we were all packed to the gunnels, Skiff John B looking great and raring to go, with our gazebo strapped in to save us from whatever the weather would fling at us.
The touring van was met by the forwarding party at camp site Bloomfield to a finely tuned operation to get boat to water, trailer parked up and tents pitched. The evening was spent refueling and building our energies for the next two days of onslaught.
Saturday dawned clear-ish if not a tad chilly. Registration done, the nerves kicking in, our fight started. A proudly born bronze for the 60+ mix the +50 men had a really tough fight but didn't place in the medals, the junior races were dominated by Ullapool. Next up was the 60+ men plus Alan from Coigach, who put in a stonking effort to win, followed by our 60+ ladies also winning the rose bowl for the second year running. By this time it was raining and pretty miserable and coxing really did become a challenge for hitting head winds, turns being executed on a knife point to avoid collisions, locating your lanes and buoys from the far side of the loch and then staying in lane meant the coxes earned every place gained at the finish line. Our last race of Saturday, the 50+ mix pulled a hard race but didn't medal.
So it was then to the Saturday night ceilidh, this year in the High School, a dry bar, which by this stage was the only thing dry, a very wet and windy night was ahead. To the dancing with the local kids band, it was very hot and sweaty too. Have to just say the kids from Deveron with their teacher Roisin, took part in every dance, hats off to her dedication.
So off to bed and I've never seen so many wind swept tents.
Sunday and it had all calmed again with a hint of sunshine for our final day. A late start due to the ferry, stocked up on breakfast and every set of clothing that we may need, it was down to get up the gazebo to get our shouting voices in tune and muscles honed.
Men's 40+ with a mixed up crew did a great job to stay near the front of a tight field of eighteen boats, which with only 14 being able to set off at once, was then a timed result with the remaining boats being split into less full categories, so even if you did win your heat it was a nail biting time till all had come in.
For the 40+ ladies this was exactly the case, and I apologise for all the details, this was my team's big race, and it was such an amazing race from start to finish, our close rivals Eastern stayed with us all the way. Ian's first time being persuaded to cox a race, was trying to take in all the vital points to make us work hard. At the turn which was well executed, we had a lot of chop hitting from all directions, we kept our calm and powered on to the calmer water along the shore, the shouting getting louder on every stroke, and the grunting from the boat, we upped our pace and by the time we got our command of sprint we gave it everything, over the finish there was not a word to be heard, even Ian was drained, had we done it? No-one knew. We had to wait another two hours. And.... yes we did , just by the skin of our teeth. There certainly wasn't much left on hands or backsides.
Ahem..... so enough about me, then started a few back to backs for our really fit members, open A mix were squashed into 4th place great energy though, the 40+ mix also put in a sterling pull for 4th. Open B men awesome third then the open B ladies getting a gold.(I think, sorry still checking that one as ink dries) The open A men with our new recruit filling in for injuries, had a really rough ride and had to settle for 4th. Open A women on their third race of day squeezed out every last bit of power to come in 4th too. By this time racing had to be stopped due to the ferries imminent arrival.
The sun came out, we all worked like a well oiled machine to get boat to trailer, gazebo packed and decamp for the medals. We should all be very proud, we were pipped into second by Ullapool who won overall. Fantastic result. Great to see some other clubs improvement, with a lot of personal medals for a handful of us that jumped into free seats with other clubs.
A HUGE thank you to Laura and the Wallace Simpson's for towing, we couldn't do it without you. Also a big shout to all who coxed, we do need more stepping up and practicing it's a great thrill to help others win medals.
Written by a very proud lady captain Jaq, very stiff and sore with plenty new blisters, but very honoured to pull you all together.