Last weekend two crews from Royal West travelled to Glenarm on the Antrim coast to take part in the inaugeral Dalriada Challenge 7km race. Chippy McNish was crewed by Robert Dowall, Paul Brooks, Alex Paterson, Ronald Graham(LARC) and Adam Graham. Birdie Bowers was crewed by Ian Clark, Alistair Blincow (JCRC), John Glover, Campbell McCall & Yvonne Christie.

Birdie Bowers heading out to the sprint races

Royal West & Galgael arrived on masse in Glenarm at about 4pm on Friday, having sailed over on the P&O ferry from Cairnryan in the early afternoon. Our ferry & accommodation was arranged and paid for by the Antrim Coast Rowing Association and the Dalriada Festival organisers. All participants would like to thank the organisers and especialy Elaine Nelson of Glenarm RC for thier efforts in this regard.

On arrival were were met by members of Glenarm RC and shown thier boats before being helped to offload our trailers and shown our accomnodation. We were directed to The Bridge End Tavern where the local rowing community would be meeting on Friday night to make final arrangements for the racing the following day. We watched the Festival’s opening parade  from the pavement outside the Tavern, suitably refreshed from our journey, then spent a very pleasant evening meeting the locals and enjoying thier hospitality.

The weather on Saturday morning started fine but deteriorated. When the crews took to the water it was a light drissle and the wind was getting up. As Chippy McNish crossed the start line there was a radio message for the rescue boats to keep a close eye on the fleet as the first boat away was starting to take water over thier bows. Worsening weather and sea conditions did not concern the crew in Chippy, Anstruther had hardened the crew and given them a clear understanding of the boats fantastic capabilities in rough conditions.

Chippy McNish was the third boat to start the 7km race in a fleet of 15, followed 1 minute behind by Galgael’s St Ayles Skiff Gobhacroit. Birdie Bowers started at no. 10. The other boats in the race were Antrim Gigs (like a Jollyboat but of plywood construction) and the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation Universal Boat (fibreglass light weight sea going boat with carbon fibre oars). The winning crew from Cairndhu finished the course in just over 40mins, Chippy McNish finished in just under 54mins, Birdie Bowers in just over 56mins. This was only the second outing for the crew from Galgael and the finished in approx 1hr 10mins.

The race was from the harbour mouth to the fish farm, then north towards the Black Rock, there was then a right turn towards Cairnlough where the course did a U-turn in front of the chapel back towards the shore side of the Black Rock before crossing Glenarm Bay to the finish line. On the return leg past the Black Rock two local crews hugged the coast a little too tight and fouled on the bottom, one loosing its rudder and having to retire. Re-grouping in the harbour after the race there was a great sense of fellowship with other crews, especially Cairndhu RC. Adam unfortunately missed this as he was suffering from mild hypothermia and spent 20mins warming himself in front of the hot air blowers in the crew support bus, drinking tea.

Universal Boats returning to Glenarm Harbour

The late afternoon races were 400m sprints to a buoy and 400m back, very similar to our Jollyboat events, but with 12 lanes. There were a couple of Junior events to start the race series before the Open events. Chippy McNish’s crew had been keen to have a go in one of the Universal Boats so were overjoyed to be offered Glenarm RC’s second boat to use in the sprint event. Lining up in Lane 4 the tension was high as banter was exchanged with a Cairnlough Open Ladies Crew in Lane 5. The start was sudden but the Royal West crew were not phased and quickly established a solid second place. Before getting to the buoy there was a commotion in the boat as one of the self inflating life jackets did “exactly what it says on the tin”. The amount of water splashing around had triggered the inflation. A slight confusion over which direction we were to turn led to us coming out of the buoy in third place. The crew held this position all the way back to the finish line. The fourth placed crew were Glenarm RC’s in thier first boat.

Birdie Bowers crew were entered in the Mixed event and raced in Birdie against the Universal Boats. Although they were using a much slower boat they did not finish that far behind the last of the Universal Boats and they were the only one with a carved dragon’s bowsprit.

Again, on the return of boats into the harbour all clubs gathered to lift each other’s boats back onto trailers and discuss the days racing. This continued at the prize giving where Chippy’s crew collected third place medals.

Cold, wet but satisfied with a medal and the prospect of a warm cocoa

Royal West presented Glenarm RC with a plaque manufactured by The Trust in Port Glasgow, we also presented Elaine Nelson with an engraved glass for her assistance to Royal West all weekend.

During the regatta dance in the upstairs lounge of The Bridge End Tavern we were approached about Antrim Coast Rowing Association sending crews to our regatta. They are making arrangements this week and should confirm how many crews by the weekend. We have definitely made a solid link with rowing clubs on the Antrim Coast and expect to be back next year.

Remember that we have our own regatta in just over two weeks, Sat 9th July. Volunteers are being sought to help on the day, also race sponsors and donations of home baking. Contact Adam or Karen Graham for details.

We are also keen to hear from anyone willing to provide camping space in thier gardens for visiting clubs that weekend.

We are happy to be able to report that Joe Dow and George McCallum have qualified for the BCU UKCC Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport after completing the necessary training and assessment. Well done guys!


This time a less than 3 year-old Valley Nordkapp belonging to a Club member. See the Club Forum.

For more details see: http://ukstormgathering.blogspot.com/

Membership Cards for the current season have been printed and are now  available for collection from the bar.  Presentation of your card will bring a discount of 10% on all purchases from Oban Sea Kayaks. Other retailers may oblige with discounts too… it’s worth asking.

The club has been invited to take part in a number of local events. Mostly they are an invitation to provide “Come and Try” opportunities to members of the public.

They give us a chance to publicise rowing as well as RWSABC in general, which is good for us.

The events are as follows:

2nd July – Comet Festival, Port Glasgow

16th July – Glasgow River Festival

13th/14th August – Millport Sail and Oar. This event also provides an opportunity to meet other rowers and sailors, it is a great social event.

If you would like to be involved in any of these events, please let Ian Clark or myself know as soon as possible.

Adam Graham

Chippy McNish was in action at two regattas last weekend. On Saturday a squad of 11 left Greenock very early for Port Seton to take part in the Cockenzie & Port Seton Regatta. On Sunday a youth squad from Gourock High School represented the club in a demonstration event at the Scottish Rowing Championships on Strathclyde Loch.

The racing on Saturday was short and explosive, between marker buoys in the two harbours. The start line was at the inner harbour mouth and skiffs raced in opposite directions round a 400m course, in the style of a pursuits race. The real excitement came as the boats raced back towards the harbour mouth for the finish line, the harbour mouth was 20m wide and the span of each boat was about 7m, therefore there was little room for error. The club had entered the Ladies Open, Men’s Open and Mens 40+ events.

First to race were the Men’s Open crew of Alec Stewart, Scott Hamilton, Calum Ford and Avril Brooke (substituting for one of the men), coxed by Jim Ford. Alec, Scott and Calum are part of a youth team being developed from Gourock High School (Soon to be sixth years at Clydeview Academy). This was their first competitive outing and although they lost, it was to a much more mature crew from Portobello. Club Rowing Convenor Adam Graham was ” very impressed with how they handled the pressure of their first race against a club that has been racing this design of boat for two seasons now”, he has high hopes for this squad in the rest of the season where they will be racing junior events at other regattas.

The next squad to race were the Men’s 40+. This was Jim Ford, Paul Brooke, Alex Paterson & Adam Graham, coxed by Calum Ford. They had drawn the home team in the first heat of the event and were expecting a hard race. Off the start Royal West were far quicker and as they pulled away from the first buoy turn had a good lead. As the crew started to apply full pressure there was a loud cracking noise quickly followed by another, Paul Brooke at no2 had broken an oar! The umpires waved “race on” and the three remaining crew members with oars got to work trying to retain their lead. As they turned the last buoy it was still very close but on the final sprint to the finish Cockenzie & Port Seton applied the advantage of having four oars and crossed the line first.

The home team loaned Royal West an oar so that we could continue racing and the next team up were the Ladies Open crew. The crew of Heather Scott, Avril Brooke, Marie Paterson and Karen Graham, coxed by Adam Graham had also drawn the home team. They set off fast to the first buoy turn, coming out of it neatly and when the two crews passed each other in the harbour mouth there was nothing in it. Out of the second buoy turn the home team had a slight advantage and pressed that home to win by a boat length. Adam Graham was again very impressed with the crew’s performance “although we had trained for this type of short and fast race the crew had a lot of pressure to deal with on the day that is not there during training, to have held their own for most of the race against the local team shows they have a lot of promise.”

Sunday saw the club taking part in a demonstration event at the Scottish Rowing Championships on Strathclyde Loch outside Motherwell. The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association was asked to bring some of our fleet to the event to show the sliding seat oarsmen what we in the fixed seat community have been developing for the last 18months. Royal West were represented by a youth squad from Gourock High School.

From L-R the crew consisted of Alec Stewart, Alan Heffernan, Scott Hamilton, Adam Graham (Cox) and Calum Ford. They competed in a short race against a scratch crew consisting members from North Berwick RC, Aberdeen BC , Strathclyde Univ BC & Glasgow RC. Although the Royal West/Gourock HS crew were by far the neater and better turned out crew their relative inexperience let them down, they lost by a boat length. The Chairman of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, Robbie Wightman, described them as a “gutsy young crew….. who promise much for the future.” Their coach Jim Ford was very proud of therr performance at such an important event, representing thier school, club and rowing association.

Two crews from the club leave on Friday morning to compete at the Dalriada Festival in Antrim on Saturday. The big race of the day is a 7km endurance race off Glenarm, this starts at 2pm and should take about 60mins. There is also sprint racing in the early evening. Also attending is a crew from Galgeal in Glasgow.

Kilcreggan Trip - 12/6/11On Sunday 12 June 2011, some new members of the Kayaking section of the Club, accompanied by coaches and more experienced members, went out on a trip across the Clyde to Kilcreggan (with a small detour East) and back. Conditions were calm, with a slight breeze developing on the return. Excitement was provided momentarily by the wake produced by a passing tug. The moral of the story is – when in doubt, keep paddling!

Everyone proved themselves to be promising seafarers and enjoyed the outing.

For photos – go here.

Check out the For Sale section on the Forum and you might find something good for sale, like a nice P&H Capella 167 carbon kevlar sea kayak.

Saturday afternoon was windy and rough but this was not enough to put off the enthusiastic club members and well wisher who attended the club to take part in the naming and launching of the club’s second St Ayles Skiff, Birdie Bowers. Ian Clark’s wife Susie cracked open a bottle of whisky and used a small amount to christen the new skiff. A larger amount was used to warm the crew on returning from the inaugural trip round the Whiteforeland channel marker.

Birdie Bowers and Chippy McNish rowed out from the club together in choppy conditions. As the club crews have learned recently these skiffs are designed and built to withstand far worse conditions than those experienced on Saturday. The skiffs and their crews performed well.

Both boats are travelling to Antrim a week on Friday to take part in the Dalriada Challenge race, a 7km endurance race off Glenarm. They will be joined by Gobhancroit built at Galgael in Glasgow as part of a joint project with Glasgow Schools.

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