The Black Isle/Avoch/Cromarty Regatta
With so many names and no postcode provided for the location, arriving at the right place, at the right time, for this regatta, was a wee bit challenging for some.
Despite this, 17 rowers, three partners and five children successfully made their way North. Most stayed at the temporary camp site overlooking a lovely sandy beach in Cromarty. All got their tents up and down in the dry, which was excellent given the weather on Friday afternoon and on Saturday. The B roads over the hills from Inverness to Cromarty provided a beautiful drive over rolling countryside followed by the surprising sight of 5 or 6 mothballed oil rigs in the bay. Nigg, where oil rigs were once constructed, was across the water. Beside a huge oil rig, the sight of massive wind turbines in construction, provided a visual illustration of changed times and priorities.
Fourteen clubs entered this regatta. A spare boat was provided representing "The Rest of the World". For the most part, the racing was very competitive for medals, , and at times contentious, with two port turns, and several races involving many boats arriving at the first turn, at more or less the same time. The umpires were challenged, as were the coxes and rowers. The cacophony of sound as 5/6 boats reached the mark at about the same time was an unforgettable experience.
Rowing conditions on Saturday were sweet. That may have been because the relentless rain calmed the waters. It was special Scottish rain, which does not seem that heavy at first, but after a few hours leaves you soaked to the skin. Happily she sun came out in the early evening in time for the outside disco at the camp-site, which was hugely enjoyed by all participants, as was the chat at the camp site before and after the disco experience. Many stories were shared and there was much hilarity too.
NB put in many good performances over the week-end collecting a bucket full of medals in the process. Among others there were notable performances from the 40+ mixed and 60+ men. Both crews won convincingly. There were also notable and impressive performances from "minor" clubs including Orkney (50+ women), and Helmsdale (60+ mixed). Avoch juniors also performed very well. Eastern were consistently competitive and lifted the best club trophy, which was beautifully crafted by a local artisan. NB finished second overall, and Ullapool third.
The Gold Medal for pitching and breaking camp efficiently goes hands down to Vana. Some of us took hours. She took minutes. Medium may still be there now trying to take down his tent if Louise had not helped him. To be fair, Medium and Phil spent time changing Issy's wheel following the discovery of a punctured tyre, which was much appreciated.
It was another great week - end with the Skiffing community, enjoying lovely hospitality, and great times with old friends and new, in a beautiful location. Special thanks to our Captain Jo for keeping us organised (many clubs were much less organised!), the towers without whom we would not have been able to enjoy the event, and the organisers and caterers at Cromarty. Our coxes also merit special thanks. It was not an easy course to cox. The BBQ, tea and cakes tent, was relentlessly busy, at times in trying conditions. The folks serving us were consistently cheerful and provided a fabulous cake stall too. The cake with gin and tonic icing may have topped the bill.
There was a severe weather warning in place, however it was sunscreen that was the order of the day on Saturday, in industrial quantities. Our crews were rather unused to the presence of a giant yellow orb , emitting a heat some rowers compared to that experienced in Woudrichem. Rowing in the sunshine, amongst fellow enthusiasts was altogether a very positive way to spend a Saturday. The rowing wasn’t too shoddy either! Competition was fairly meaningful, in that 9 strong clubs had entered the regatta, but it was NB that lifted the splendid trophy in the photograph. A serious rush of endorphins followed all the rows and it was especially pleasing to see the joy amongst our young women, who are now, most definitely, no longer novice rowers. A wonderful team effort.
The results reflect the changing wind and tide conditions, the earliest races were staged in windless conditions with flat water, later races were slightly more sporty.
As always, rowing in Andy’s race made us appreciate the quality and build of our own skiff, however the lighthearted nature of this race means that acquaintances are made with representatives from a variety of different clubs.
Our hosts were exceptional in their welcome, the four ladies in the quaint little tearoom were worked to the point of exhaustion, producing excellent catering (raspberry and chocolate brownies, to name but one) to suit all palates and never tired of filling up our water bottles. We look forward to returning their superb hospitality at our own regatta.
Monday evenings 6:45pm is junior rowing, open to any s3-s6...learn to row, get some exercise, see some wildlife.
Try 3 sessions for free, then annual subs for juniors are £20, no special equipment needed.
The temperature on leaving North Berwick was a balmy 13.5 degrees Celsius, however this was not mirrored over in the West, where, for the first several hours, warm clothing was not only desirable, but essential. The welcome team NB received however was warm and welcoming, as we have come to expect from our friends in the West.
North Berwick acquitted itself with aplomb and commitment and enjoyed enormous success on the water, despite some underwear malfunction and poorly scheduled toilet breaks. Although we were a few days late for a pod of Orcas, we were treated to close ups of several porpoises, less close up (thankfully)views of a passing submarine and a significant wake from a pilot boat, which made for a very exciting finish in one of the races.
Sufficient points were scored to secure the return of the silver salver to the club for another year. Other highlights were observing the Cowan boys at play, completely absorbed in the business of gathering industrial quantities of seaglass. It is with great interest that we anticipate the arrival of a unique piece of art, with which to embellish our boat house!
Once again, great rowing, excellent company and cameraderie and wonderful organisation, thanks to all who made it another joyful regatta!
After an endless winter, the first regatta of the season was upon us. Port Seton harbour was the venue for a few fast and furious sprints, with a couple of tight buoy turns to boot. This was a great test for the crews’ skill.
North Berwick sent a strong contingent of rowers, clearly itching to get going in the new regatta season. Before all the racing commenced for the day, a group of foolhardy individuals thought it would be good idea to up the intensity of the day’s workout and row Skiff John B there before the racing.
We were under strict orders to be at Port Seton by 10am to make the cox’s briefing and avoid any time penalties for our boat, which would be devastating on the short circuit round the harbour. So no pressure then …! But forget all that, the real target was obviously to beat the previous club record time for the route!
Dave led the team of Louise, Jacque, Duncan and Ross, setting off from NB around 7.15am to tackle the 13 mile course along the coast. With dark grey cloud to the east and west, we set off in high spirits. After a choppy start to Lamb/Fidra, the water smoothed out to allow the team to make good time. It might have been even quicker if not for a few lengthy changeovers en route to allow some members to organise their attire!
What a way to see our coastline and take in the sights – the Puffins skimming around the boat, Guillemots rising from Fidra as we cruised past and then on towards the submarine wreck at Aberlady Bay. Without the towers at Cockenzie anymore as a landmark, it made it slightly more difficult to pick our course, but nevertheless Jacque steered us into the harbour in good time – clocking 2hr:17mins and smashing the previous record!
A great welcome met us in Port Seton, where teams were gathering for a busy day of racing ahead. With 70 races scheduled for the day, there was no hanging about and quick changeovers were needed to ensure the races were completed whilst there was still enough water in the harbour. The oval course around the two parts of the harbour had the start/finish line in the middle, marked by the narrow gap in the harbour wall. It was perfect for the spectators to see how the racing was progressing. With boats setting off in opposite directions, it set up a head-on game of ‘chicken’ as boats met at the midway point through the narrow gap – a good test of the coxes’ nerve.
The racing began in wet and windy conditions, but that did not deter the Men’s Open team, progressing through the heats and semi-final, before taking the silver medal for their efforts. The weather improved and the sun came out for the afternoon races. Sadly, the Men’s Open was to be the highlight of the day in terms of a medal haul and it was a struggle to set good enough times in the heats to make the semi-final or final. The men’s 45 team did manage to reach the semi-final, but it was our hosts for the day, Boatie, who were cleaning up with the medals.
It was a great day, great hospitality, and good experience for our crews, with some very tidy buoy turns executed on the day (and some not so great turns, but don’t think too much paint was scraped off that fishing trawler in the harbour!!).
We have plenty to build on for the regatta season to come … and perhaps NB is more suited to the longer distance races! Luckily, somebody did bring the empty trailer for boat at the end of the day, as it would have been a very long row back to North Berwick.
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