Six different clubs took home the winners prizes from the eight races at the 2011 North Berwick Regatta. Nine clubs attended the regatta, with 12 St Ayles skiffs, each of which had been built within the community that they represented.
There were light winds for the event, but a swell gradually gathered from the East, giving some lively rowing conditions. The course was one of around two nautical miles, starting on a transit off Platcock Rocks, heading North to Craigleith Island, with the crews then rounding the island and surfing with the waves back towards a finish line just off the old pier at North Berwick harbour. The conditions were especially challenging at the North East corner of the Island, giving visiting crews a real taste of the sort of conditions that local crews often have to train in.
The first race of the day for 35+ Men went to the hosts’ neighbours, Cockenzie/ Port Seton, followed by Portobello and Anstruther. The fifers from Anstruther then brought home line honours in the Women’s open category, a feat that they repeated in the women’s 35+ in the afternoon. The just failed ot make it a fife female triple whammy when Portobello pipped Anstruther by one second in the Women 50+ category, with North Berwick coming third. The 50+ men event was won by the hosts North Berwick, leading in a crew of their clubmates in second place.
The Open Mens crew from Coigach, who row out of Achiltibuie on the Coigach peninsula in Wester Ross, simply outclassed the rest of what was a strong field in the Mens Open, coming accross the line in 18 minutes 47 seconds, half a minute ahead of Portobello, who had a similar gap over North Berwick in third place.
An invitation race, the Convenor’s cup, designed to encourage new entrants to St Ayles skiff coastal rowing was won by East Lothian Yacht Club, withDunbar coming second and Newhaven third. The win was popular with North Berwick Rowers, as the yacht club had given very generous support by way of facilities to assist in the organisation of the regatta, and had kindly cancelled their own club dinghy racing for the day allowing the rowing event to be held safely and efficiently over the course favoured by the visiting rowing crews.
The sun came out for the final race of the day, the Mixed Open category. Supporters were crowding onto all the vantage points on Platcock Rocks to welcome home the ten crews that raced in the category. They witnessed a very exciting finish, with the Portobello crew just holding off Coigach by around three feet. Both teams were given the time of 19:46, an increadably close and exciting finish after almost twenty minutes of racing, and a great way to round off an enjoyable and sociable days racing.
North Berwick rowing club always welcomes new members. Details of open club night sessions are here. More information on St Ayles skiffs and the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project at www.scottishcoastalrowing.org .
Here are a few Youtube clips from the race
St Baldreds and the Skiff John B
On a July night set out to sea
The Forth was calm and Craigleith beckoned
Another time trial loomed we reckoned.
But up the fairway, past the pier
The Craig was looking far from clear
Then we heard a rumble from the sky
Then thunder sounded quite close by.
The rain was coming down in buckets
And Frazer with a grin said "Oh Dear,
there is no better place to be
than in lashing rain upon the sea”
But a lightning bolt before our eyes
Made us gasp out in surprise
If the killer-tiller took the blow
The cox would be the first to go.
And Karen’s bra by Calvin Kline
Normally would feel just fine
She wasn’t happy it transpired
The bra was somewhat under-wired!
The skiffs were turned around anew
And eight keen wenches drookit through
With coxes, landed on the shore
To a welcome cry of “easy oars”.
In spite of thunder, rain and squall
Lizzie said she’d had a ball
It’s times like these which keep us going
The joy of Scottish Coastal Rowing!
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