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.
The filler was sanded, the hull was painted and nail varnish stripes added to foot rests - Skiff John B was back in action and ready for a trip!
On our way up the sun kept shining and the temperature in Aberdeen hit 'taps aff' degrees before dropping down to a 'mibies wear a wind proof jacket' in Portsoy. A selection of tents from the Cowan Corner Shop to Fraser's teeny tiny shelter quickly made up the North Berwick High Street at the camping ground and we even stretched to a little suburban section with rather civilised camper van accommodation, bunting and all!
In the evening we were treated to a most spectacular sunset with 40 odd dolphins playing in the bay. A couple(ish) beers and many good catch ups were had before heading to bed early to rest before a day of competing.
The first regatta day kicked off with 2K races where six seat Shetland yoals, despite being in a different category rowed alongside the skiffs. Team NB came third in the Men's Open and our crew in the Women's Open raced past a yoal to claim first place. It was then time for the sprints where Big John joined forces with the formidable Anstruther ladies in their Mixed 60+ crew and they rowed to second place.
Sadly, it wasn't long after this that the wind started to blow heavily enough to warrant the rest of the day's races to be cancelled but not before Jo and Clive managed to nab a couple of coveted seats in a yoal and join the Shetland crew for a quick spin in the harbour.
Our non-rowing sorrows were drowned in ice cream, rowies, cullen skink, and a beer or two. Sadly the wind kept its stubborn hoolie-gan attitude and Sunday had to be called off all together. We packed up the boat and lingered just long enough to listed to some music, sample some more foods and for Vana to nab a photo with a seemingly random Viking..
..mid posing, Viking to Vana: '..wait..I know you..did you do Make Works*?..I run the spinning mill in Shetland!'
Turns out Vana managed to pick from a sea of people the one hairy Shetlander she'd met 4 year ago while travelling the length of Scotland for a project.
*here's Garry the Viking in less hirsute form
Hoping the weekend was fun even for those who didn't get a chance to row. Captain Jaque certainly made up for it by absolutely and unquestionably winning 'Yellow car' on the journey back.
Big thanks to our hosts for their tremendous hospitality and we hope to see them again soon.
On Sunday we held our first ever Junior Rowing Regatta at North Berwick, the idea was planted about 9 months ago by Robbie, and evolved from an attempt to copy the format we normally use on full regattas, to realising that a looser, more relaxed day might be called for.
A large squad of 11 juniors come down from Deveron accompanied by the wonderfully garrulous Roisin and Shawnee. The energy of the kids belied their 5 hour drive down from the Moray coast.
Gareth, Stuart and Dave (surely by now in demand as a wild Scottish hipster in some Tartan Noir series) towed over Boatie Blest from nearby Port Seton and provided their expert services in coxing the Deveron crews around our races.
Firth of Clyde brought Robbie (Full of power, look out men’s open in a year or two), David and Kate over from Largs.
Eastern came through in Skelf with a couple of crews of boys and girls. Races started with a series of 500m sprints with the following results (Deveron were rowing in Boatie Blest. Blackadder was FOCCRs plus guests)
|Girls||St Baldred||Eastern||Boatie Blest|
|Boys||Blackadder||Boatie Blest||St Baldred|
|Mixed 1||Boatie Blest||St Baldred||Eastern|
|Mixed 2||St Baldred||Eastern||Boatie Blest|
Following the sprints we had a short pursuit race, a la Port Seton
|Semi Final 1||Eastern vs Blackadder||Eastern|
|Semi Final 2||Boatie Blest vs St Baldred||Boatie Blest|
|Final||Boatie Blest vs Eastern||Boatie Blest|
The day dawned windy and wet but who was to know that by the end of the day we'd be sitting on the wall of Portobello prom, quaffing Jacque’s raffle-prize cider in brilliant sunshine. The regatta was attended by 9 clubs and by the start of the first race the rain had stopped and the sun had started to break through.
North Berwick 60+ women took gold in a fiercely contested race.
The 60+ men and 45+ mixed crews secured two more golds. The day finished with two races, an inter-club race where we were allocated places in other skiffs.
This was won by St Andrews and a relay race in which we achieved 4th place catching-up on two boats during the final leg.
North Berwick shared the spoils of the day with Anstruther. Considering our numbers were few we did exceptionally well.
A few of us are still wondering who snaffled Louise’s carrot cake which she left in the gazebo saving for after her race. Several dogs were sniffing around, Duncan left early but apart from that, it's all a bit of a mystery (Ed: Duncan was seen licking his lips as he scarpered, mystery solved ;-) )
Some persona non grata, at the Porty regattaFancied a slice of home bakingAnd followed a scent, to the North Berwick tentAnd there some lay just for the taking Louise,It's an enormous mistake to abandon your cakeand then decide to go rowingAnd thus you found out, that a thief was aboutWho did it? You'd no way of knowing. “I left it right there, at the back, on a chair”This plate of delicious home bakingWas it someone she knew from some other crew?Who thought it was there for the taking. It beggars belief that this cake-loving thiefMade off with the slice Lou was savingOne from NBRC? perhaps it was meBut they certainly ended her craving Jeannie Newcombe
They came on planes, in cars, on boats and jumped on their rental bikes on arrival. North Berwick crews, sporting their natty away-jackets, descended on Woudrichem in style for their first international regatta.
The welcome they found in Woudrichem was overwhelming. A few of us would confess that the prospect of the free camping in a field (following a weekend of - shall we say - mixed weather camping in Achiltibuie) filled them with trepidation. Their fears were quickly laid to rest. The organisers had performed a minor miracle and had transformed the field into a pop up camp site with hot showers and lots of toilets - really impressive. The ferry and towing contingent had kindly erected tents for the late night flyers and were able to fill them in on how amazing the hospitality, area, club house and company were and to point them in the direction of breakfast-with-a-view. They raved about the day of touring and sprinting and the kindness that they had experienced on Thursday. The camaraderie was immediate as old friends and rowing rivals, newer friends - met at the Skiffie Worlds - and the newest friends from the Dutch teams, all bonded effortlessly. Laughter and banter was everywhere. On Friday, we rowed or ferried across the river, helped launch a new Dutch skiff in Gorichem and tested herring and Dutch Gin. Vana, Clive and John I. excelled at net-casting in the evening, others excelled at gin tasting on the fascinating city tour and we all enjoyed a trip to the fisheries museum and ate our fill of delicious fried fish (with a few tiny Heinis).
Undeterred by the distracting range of activities, food and drink on offer, an excellent day’s racing took place in very hot conditions on Saturday. Two km races with an individual buoy turn. The heat provided truly testing conditions and there were some close fought results, with the newer Dutch teams proving to be ones to watch. Somehow, we still found energy to dance the night away on Saturday at the excellent party night and barbecue. North Berwick medals jingled and we were hugely moved to receive a beautiful bronze sculpture by a local artist as best overseas club. The flyers departed early Sunday, leaving the trusty towers and drivers to pack in some last minute experiences of beautiful Woudrichem and its surrounds, before heading for the ferry. There really was nothing more our fabulous hosts could have offered to improve our stay. The haul of beautiful medals and trophies for North Berwick (overall winner, 5 Golds (Women’s 40+,Men’s Open, Mixed 40+, Men’s 60+, <25 Women); 4 Silvers (Men’s 40+, Men’s 50+, Women’s Open; Mixed Open); and 2 Bronzes (Women’s 50+ and Mixed 50+) was nothing compared to the haul of magical memories that we all have to treasure.
Full Results here
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