The Largs Annual Regatta was set to be a busy day for the small team of eleven rowers and one bosun who travelled west on Saturday 14 July with seven heats and potentially seven finals as well as a long distance race in memory of Duncan Winning, one of the founders of Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club (FOCCR), scheduled.
In glorious sunshine and a breeze which made the sea conditions interesting, North Berwick managed to qualify for every final before lunch. Everybody had rowed at least twice out and back along the 500m course which was actually nearer 1km! Muscles were certainly warmed up.
So running a bit behind time the selected long distance cox for North Berwick, Clive (with his cup of tea), gathered his two men and two women for the 3km race. Off the boats went giving those not racing or coxing a welcome rest which turned out to be longer than expected as the 3km race was 6km! Bit of a pattern developing here. To our delight the winning crew of the Duncan Winning Challenge in the Prestwick boat turned out to include our very own Andy. Well done Andy.
With North Berwick in every final the rowers knew they were going to burn some calories in preparation for the visit to Nardini’s scheduled for after the regatta. Arran and Royal West Coastal Rowing Clubs seemed to be battling it out in the finals taking three wins each and North Berwick winning the 50+ Women’s race. But it was North Berwick who packed up the boat with the warm glow of success after being overall winners of the Largs Regatta 2018 seven hours after the first race. Time for Nardini’s
In traditional form the North Berwick crew made their way to the famous fish and chip eatery to exchange stories of how many races they had rowed in and how many hours of rowing they had done. Numbers varied and grew as time went on and pints were drunk but it was generally accepted that another good day was had at Largs
NBRC were out in force this weekend as 21 of our members took on a challenging two days of rowing up on the west coast.
After the first test of beating Friday evening rush hour on the A9 was completed, we convened in the pub for some pre-race hydration as the junior races drew to a close on the beach in front of us. After livers were primed suitably, our athletes retired to the camp site where we enjoyed the silence and tranquillity of the of the Wester Ross countryside.
The competitors emerged from their tents and MoHo’s on Saturday morning to blazing sunshine. Ullapool remained uncharacteristically clammy as the ferry left and races got underway, which made for tough racing conditions despite the relatively calm waters. However, this didn’t seem to affect our over 50’s Men and Women, who started the day with some great wins against some strong teams. Heats for the open mixed A’s and 40+ mixed finished promisingly too, with North Berwick comfortably securing a place in the final for both.
Heats over, but temperature rising, much fun was had as the beach was inundated by tourists, rowers and jellyfish, all jostling for a good view of the skiffs. I think North Berwick alone may be responsible for the ice cream shortage Ullapool is now suffering, but it proved an important snack to revive the team and supporters.
As the day finally began to cool all 27 teams collected on the beach for the prize giving ceremony. Against a magnificent backdrop of Loch Broom and the surrounding hills,
The sense of community was uplifting as rowers from as far as the Netherlands and Orkney gathered to congratulate each other.
After a quick freshen up the teams prepared for the next test of stamina; the ceilidh. There was a strong turnout up at the high school after such an exhausting day – the sheer volume of people made the assembly hall very sweaty, rendering our battle for the camp site showers pretty useless. It all went a bit blurry for me after that, either because I was spinning too fast or drinking to fast, but I remember a lot of people smiling so I think the dancing was a success.
Sunday was a bit more of a dreich day (which was a bit of relief after Costa del Ulla the day before), and as we returned to the beach for the final races the wind and swell picked up. Almost opposite conditions made for a really interesting afternoon; North Berwick continued to consistently finish among the medals, and there was some excellent coxing to bring the teams home on a tight line in tricky wind.
The day drew to a close and reluctantly rowers trundled off down the road, with some great memories and chests weighed down with medals. North Berwick narrowly lost out on winning overall, but of course that leaves some exciting room for improvement at our own regatta!
Glorious sunshine welcomed us to Porty regatta, a really stunning setting with beach views extending far and wide, as well as the familiar and much loved silhouette of The Law in the distance.
The Mixed Novice kicked off the competition winning Gold, which seemed to set the tone for the day! We took home a whopping 6 gold medals, 1 silver and 2 bronze, with the Mens Open setting the quickest time of 8 minutes 43 seconds out of our crews. There was also a relay race which I believe caused much carnage and hilarity across the board.
Conditions were favourable for most of the day, with wind picking up slightly after lunch causing many boats to drift quite considerably off course and veer off their buoys, in turn causing confusion for some boats as well as making their course lengthier. Luckily our coxes are steel and it would take a lot more than a bit of wind to put us off course!
Food was exceptional with fresh made to order rolls, some potato and chorizo dish which had most people salivating from the beach and some delicious home baking on offer.
We had a new member join us on Saturday, a hairy hound called Belle, who provided much love for our team between races. She will be available for future events hopefully sporting a North Berwick Rowing Club bandana! All in favour of a dog entourage? Aye!
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.
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