Marked by the piercing whistle from a Royal West loud hailer, as it echoed back from the cliffs on the West of Dumbarton Rock, the inaugural Castle to Crane race was underway at 10am on Saturday. Appropriately the first boat over the start line was Orcuan from GalGael. The race was born out of the larger event it was part of, The Clydebuilt Festival, a GalGael showcase for Scottish crafts. The race itself was organised by a small committee of primarily Scottish Coastal Rowing Association club members, under the banner of the Clydebuilt Festival.

Seventy Five fixed seat rowing boats from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Netherlands, England and Cornwall gathered to compete in a 13 mile race from the mouth of the River Leven, below Dumbarton Castle, to Finnieston Crane in Glasgow.

Royal West were involved from the conception of the event through to the conclusion of what has been hailed as very successful day. The Club’s secretary served on the race organising committee, working with a strong team of members & volunteers over the weekend organising the muster area and start at Sandpoint Marina in Dumbarton.

During Friday we controlled the arrival and offloading of the boats into Sandpoint Marina, in launch order, and then in a matter of 2 hours on Saturday the team co-ordinated the launching and starting of 75 rowing boats consisting of 407 crew members. The Club RHIB, crewed by Ewen Chisholm and Heather Scott (Hon Treasurer), then made sure the latter boats in the fleet made it safely to the finish. Three ladies who need particular thanks are Karyn Donnachie, Rose Sloan (Subs) & Joanna Dowall. They controlled the start line and start timing for the event. Joanna then went on to Glasgow and was involved with Race Control ratifying the results.

The Club had two boats entered, Jollyboat “Sprite” and St. Ayles Skiff “Chippy McNish”.


Sprite was crewed by three former Club Captains, Duncan, Ronald & Adam Graham, plus Karen Graham (Rowing Convenor) coxed by Colin Campbell. Sprite started 60th but finished 28th overall.


Chippy was crewed by Robert Dowall, Elaine Hunter, Liz McMahon, Sandy Disselduff, Ian Clark, Mat Henderson (Past VP). Chippy started 38th and finished 60th overall.

Conditions were perfect for the race and it all went very well. There were supporters on the banks at Bowling, under Erskine Bridge, on the pontoon at Clydebank College, in Renfrew and at Breahead. The biggest and most vocal crowds were at the Riverside Museum and near the finish line at Finnieston.

As Chippy & Sprite were finishing we could hear Gavin Stewart & Al Black (Past VP), not singing, but talking to the passengers on the Clyde Clipper. It had been chartered by Gavin as part of the QE2 celebratory weekend and was about to set off from the Science Centre to Clydebank.

As well as all the messages of thanks to Royal West received from individuals and clubs, we received a message of thanks from the event organisers as follows;
I very much appreciate the above and beyond put in by members of Royal West. I know that there was a lot of teamwork went into the start, and having the safety boat available was essential both for the day and for the exploratory trip up the River while we were in the planning stage. Robbie Wightman, Convenor SCRA

The event would not have been complete without a prize giving. Before the awards it was explained that the last and most significant prize was the Median Trophy. To be awarded to the boat/crew who represented the entire event. This was a Prize for All, in future years to be carried in the boat that won it the year before. To the surprise of the crew and delight of the Club this was awarded to Chippy McNish. The following message was also received in relation to the Median Trophy;

The Median Trophy is in the gift of the organisers. The purpose is to award a trophy to a crew who are representative of the fleet as a whole. It was awarded to Chippy who came 60th out of 75 boats and were of good behaviour, which is a relief. It is very pleasing to the organisers that the trophy has gone to a club who contributed so much to make the race possible, a local club who have enabled many from far and wide to have a safe and enjoyable experience of the great river that your club has been a fundamental part of for so long. Congratulations Chippy McNish and Royal West of Scotland ABC.

On and off the water Royal West excelled itself this weekend.

The Club should be proud of the team who worked on this event and of those who have contributed to the incredible events we have hosted at the Club this season. The Closing Cruise to Kilcreggan Hotel will be on Saturday 7th October, to which all are invited.

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