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.
So how long does it take to organise a small flotilla to the Bass Rock? You get a message on Monday to say Murdo McLeod would love to do the Bass with folks from Portobello, then Dunbar come and bag a couple of our islands on Thursday, and want to join us and then Alan (ex NBRC) and Amble have filled two boats with a wee extra of Andreas in Pascal. Thirty seven folks in total with two North Berwick boats too...
The day dawned as Magic Seaweed had predicted.....walking down the beach at half eight for a quick jaunt to the Craig with the girls, Portobello and Pascal were pulling down the slip and Amble had stopped for breakfast at Berwick.
Conditions were totally perfect. After a quick briefing we set out , jollying along, chatting but putting on some pressure, changing coxes at the Poo buoy and onto the rock.....not too many gannets present to put us off our snacks. Quite a few puddles of puffins already here to enjoy the warmth. Plenty seals surrounding the skiffs too. So good to be back on the water.
After devouring cake and rehydration some headed to find Seacliff harbour, others to round the Craig. All were safe back on land by half past two. Coffees in steampunk, plenty piccies and a fantastic day sharing our rocks.
Thanks must go to Murdo for setting the oars in motion, and to all for coming to join us. Here's to many more outings!
"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.
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