"Row the Tyne", an indoor rowing event to row the length of the River Tyne, well how hard can that be? I'm not even sure it's East Lothian's longest river, starting just South of Haddington. But I was soon disabused of my complancency as apparently there is a longer River Tyne in England near Newcastle, in fact 118KM of it.
The event was for 50 teams of up to 6 people, rowing on a Concept2 machine continuously for 7 hours in a race - brilliant, my idea of heaven :-)
Bizzarely, when I tried to recruit a team there appeared to be a lot of clashes with previous commitments, suffice to say that weekend there were a lot of freshly painted toenails in NB.
But we got a team of 5 entered with Ian Baird, John Irvine, Andrews Dalley and Andrew Hunter.
The event started at 8:30am and, it being Newcastle, by 8:35am the shirts were off and the tats were oot. Most of the teams were Crossfitters. These were serious hard bodied athletes who were absolutely pounding the ergo, the team in front of us were crushing sub 1:30 times. Even Big John was compelled to say that if this was back in '78 (before the laser treatment to remove his Dragon Tattoo) he'd have peeled down his all-in-one to show off his abs and ink.
We settled into a strategy of 3 mins on, in rotation and managed to maintain a sub 1:50 pace for the whole piece which was bang on our target, finishing in 7hours and 11mins. Of the 49 teams that started, we finished in 17th, but were promoted to 12th on the weight adjustment because we only have 5 members.
After what has at times felt like a lifetime, 1st January saw skiffs on the water. I repeat skiffs on the water. This is not a drill people!
10 hardy souls plus one "potential" dooker tried to shake off any excesses of the previous evening by heading for the far side of the Lamb and back via Craigleith.
With the aid of plenty of healthy banter and Old Mrs Wightman's traditional fruit scones, we made it back in time to watch the annual NB Loony Dook. The aforementioned "potential" dooker then saw sense and decided to watch the mayhem unfold from the relative warmth of the skiffs.
Viewing the dook from this vantage point was a great experience as we were able to get a sense of the sheer numbers of participants and spectators massed on the West Beach. One hardy dooker even made their way out to the skiffs for a New Year kiss and a mouthful of scone before turning round and swimming back to shore. Extreme Dooking indeed!
So here's to a great Skiffy 2018 and may all your rows be as fruitful as the scones.
NBRC had great fun at our candlelit quiz night on 24th Nov.
The quiz teams were challenged on their knowledge of musicals and current affairs, and wracked their brains on the colours of international flags, as well as local questions (who knew the number of golf courses in E. Lothian?). Then for crucial extra points the Teams had a speed-eating donut competition.
Many thank to our Quizmaster Steve for serving questions and keeping everyone in order and congratulations to Craig and his team for extending their winning streak.
I'd forgotten what it was like getting up and out quite so early, on the move by 6:15 very dark and quiet. NBRC had let free a wee group to do the umpire course the night before and most had camped as well. Hardy lot. As the sun started to rise above Fife (Ed: That wasn't the Sun it was Mossmorran!), we'd managed the new crossing without dropping a gear. We sped (Ed: within the speed limit of course) on through the ever changing scenery to the stunning and very colorful Loch Tummel Sailing Club. Nestled mainly out of the building breeze if you positioned yourself right. The cosy and spacious club house was a great welcome place to group and chat, plot new adventures and dissect every race. Bacon rolls and copious amounts of tea and coffee. The coxes briefing promised of ever building winds and fast turn overs of crews to ensure we got as many races completed.
It was a tad mind blowing for our regional captains Stuart and Ali with 81 signed up to squeeze into two boats,Port Seton boats changed their names for the day being Bass Rock and St Kilda and the challenge was set, also to the new umpires to help make the day run smoothly and without having to issue any penalties, or predict any issues before they happened. Getting the names of each boat and their numbers is often hard enough but remembering which region they came from was a bit of a challenge when setting up and starting races, especially with the strong headwind and powerful currents, staying on the line was tough on the coxes too.
So down to working out which boat you were in which team and whether you were coxing, all tables sent out beforehand were told to be discarded and to watch our white board. When to eat, hydrate and what clothes to wear all the usual scenarios....
Racing was over a 500m course into the strong westerly wind with a starboard turn and sprint half way back with the following wind to cross the transit with the watch hut. All races were closely fought, and very hard to predict who crossed the line first even from the coxes seat. For me the tender steps up and down the pontoon were spent on my knees a lot too, and the Port Seton lifejackets were certainly hard to adjust everytime, glad of helping out each other in all situations.
As the day went on more white horses appeared and the loch turned into more like coastal waters. As the novice crews took to the water, gusts were reaching up to 40 mph and it was decided to postpone for a while to see if the last races could take place. We were treated to a very informative chat by the Teale Trailer rep with some very good points to highlight for the future. Regional coxes then retired to discuss the weather, whilst we all proceeded to eat our way through the amazing spread of soup, rolls, pies and cakes.
And....yes we were back on the water, not for the novice but the shortened long distance last two races, they really did have a hard slog. After retrieving boats to trailers and packing up all our layers, points were counted....the lovely wooden medals were shared out in the warmth of the club house. And the overall shield......YES back to south east again.
What a fantastic days racing, knowledge, catching up with new and old pals, hospitality and fun. A much needed stop to refuel with amazing pizza on the way home and in bed by ten.....old/new time. Thank you to all the powers that be for the great organising of so many members of the SCRA from all over the country. I do hope you had a good AGM and slept well after a long and fruitful day.Jacque Turner
22 North Berwick red shirts (nearly a quarter of the club) braved the 13 mile row up the river Clyde on Saturday. NB sent a fleet of 5 boats, some with 4 rowers, 3 rowers and 2 rowers - but all with 4 oars! There was a total of 75 boats in the inaugural Castle to Crane race (actually, two castles, and three cranes, but let’s not be picky), and the greatest gathering of St Ayles skiffs ever seen. Amazing sights included the historic Birlinn rowed by Galgael and the dazzle camouflage skiff.
The course is long, passing many landmarks and finishes in the heart of Glasgow. After nearly two hours of hard rowing it was wonderful to hear our cox say that he could see the Armadillo and the Tall Ship. It wasn’t easy to maintain our composure and discipline when we rowed under the pipe band on the Millennium Bridge up to the finish line at Finnieston Crane. A super way to finish!
The North Berwick team did well, all boats finishing in the fastest third. Skiff John B bagged the fastest time of the day, 1 hour 54 min, winning the St Ayles Mixed 50+ trophy, Speedwell won the coxed double scull trophy in a time of 2 hours 14 min, Blackadder came fourth in the open Women’s St Ayles with a time of 2 hours 6 min and St Baldred was third in the St Ayles Mixed 50+ with 2 hours 10 min. Zev came first (and last!) in her own category with a time of 2 hours 9 minutes. (All times are actual, before adjustments for handicap).
We then recovered in the fabulous Clydebuilt festival atmosphere - super food, music, beer and traditional boat building exhibits. And beer. Did I mention beer? That was important. And FOOD. Lots.
Well done indeed to the organisers of the Clydebuilt festival and the Castle to Crane race, and many thanks from North Berwick to all the volunteers who made it all possible. We’ll be back...
Thanks to Allan Robertson and Daren Borzynski for permission to use their photos.Clive Drewitt
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