Overlooked by the castle with the longest recorded history of any stronghold in Scotland, a fleet of fixed seat rowing boats gather last Saturday at Sandpoint Marina, opposite the site of the historic Denny’s Shipyard. A yard famous for the Cutty Sark, SS Sir Walter Scott and TS Queen Mary.

Fitting then that this was the launch site for Castle to Crane 2019. The third year this spectacular fixed seat rowing race has been staged and the third year that the Club has entered as well as been prominent in organising the launch site & start.

Seventy-five boats gathered from as far south as Sidmouth in Cornwall and as far North as Kirkwall on Orkney. We also had a boat over from Strangford in Northern Ireland. The organisers expected a slump in participants due to the high level of commitment put into the Skiffie Worlds in July, however, even with a number of overseas clubs not attending, there were actually more boats this year.

The Club provided the large majority of the “meet & greet” team throughout Friday. This team booked in the arriving boats and issued registration packs. They also assisted in offloading boats and making the arriving crews welcome. It was made more difficult this year by the incredibly good weather. Sun cream and hats on a very warm and sunny September day. The team this year included Mat, Karen G, Karyn D, Rose, Helen, Ronald, Adam, Marie, Alex & Ian. From 10am-9pm the team were always cheery, but in the end weary.  They was also a couple of lovely enthusiastic ladies from Burghead.

Saturday morning brought a few more boats but a lot more people. On average each boat had a crew of five, so we were expecting in excess of 375 people at Sandpoint before the start at 11am. As busses had been laid on from The Transport Museum this flood arrived almost at once. Incredible to see the waves of people getting off the busses in the marina and heading to the toilets, breakfast van and then their boats. There were also a lot of supporters and locals, as well as the press. The marina had a very lively and energetic buzz about it ahead of the Coxes Brief.

Having briefed the coxes and crews, Robbie Wightman (SCRA Convenor) wished all the crews well and proceeded to brief the rescue boat crews. As well as having entered four competing boats in the race again this year, the Club and its members also provided two of the safety boats. The Club’s RHIB and a RHIB Phil Jones borrowed from Briggs Marine. The size and power of this boat turned a few heads. The Club members who provided safety cover (Heather (VP), Ewen, Paul & Phil) are to be commended, especially for their patience with some of the slower crews.

As in previous years the Club provided the start line team. This year it consisted of Al (Past VP), Shelagh, Hugh and Karen B. Although very new to the Club Karen B has been very enthusiastic, so we needed to find her a role. As Al, Shelagh & Hugh were concentrating on starting and timing Karen B & her husband George were the buffer between them and the supporters who had gathered to watch the start. The team did a remarkable job and were commended by the organisers for their accuracy and efficiency.

The race itself takes crews from a line across the mouth of the River Leven, below the castle, up to a line across the River Clyde at the Finnieston Crane. On the way up it passes the sites of all the major Upper Clyde Shipyards, some now redeveloped such as John Brown in Clydebank, others still in use such as Yarrows at Scotstoun. It passes under the Erskine Bridge, around the Renfrew Ferry who was cutting through the fleet and over the Clyde Tunnel. It passes from one of the oldest of Scotland’s Castles to the heart of one of Scotland’s most vibrant cities. Finishing beside the broadcasting hub that is Pacific Quay and just East of The Science Centre. One of the ships passed on the course is the TS Queen Mary, now under refurbishment at the quayside adjacent to the Science Centre. This beautiful ship was built at Denny’s and launched in 1933.

So 11am arrives and the first boat sets off on the race to Finnieston.

Royal West boats started at positions 23 (Chippy, Open women St. Ayles), 36 (Sprite, Mixed four oared other), 27 (Naiad, Men’s four oared other) & 44 (Birdie, Open St. Ayles).

The ladies in Chippy had gone to a good amount of effort again this year to decorate the boat and dress for the race. Having been nicknamed the Princesses they took this to extremes. Karyn, Angela, Liz, Marie (Hon. Treasurer) & Elaine can be seen below ready to launch.

Sprite’s crew had a couple of fresh faces in it this year. Karen G & Adam were joined by Helen & George to form a Mixed crew. Helen had rowed previously at Loch Lomond ARC before joining Royal West a few years ago. George had been replaced in the Men’s jollyboat this year and needed a seat. The fifth member again this year was Colin at cox. His knowledge and understanding being worth another oarsman.

Naiad’s crew also had a new member this year. Ronald replaced George in bow to help channel the crew’s power & enthusiasm. Alex (Past VP), Shug, Ali (who travelled from Chester to train & compete) & Ronald were coxed by Gary again this year. They had been training for some months with a target of improving on the course record they set last year.

Birdies’ crew comprised some of the oldest competitive rowers in the Club as well as some of the newest. Mat(Past VP), Ian, Rose (Subs), Julie & Karen R had also been putting in the hours for months to get ready for this event. Their determination was commented on by the safety boat crews.

The Easterly wind that had been predicted was stronger than expected and no new records were set. Heading from the Leven to Erskine Bridge was a slog that few will want to repeat soon, but once into the relative calm east of the bridge progress was less demanding.

Naiad’s progress through the fleet was quite remarkable. Having set off 37th they were the 5th boat to cross the line and recorded the fastest time on the day at 2hrs 13mins 19secs.

Sprite did not perform quite as well as last year, however still managed to be the 18th boat across the line and finished 11th overall and 3rd in category. Time 2hrs 36mins 9secs

Chippy was 34th across the line, finished 54th overall but 9th in category. Time 3hrs 17mins 5secs

Birdie was 74th over the line but 70th overall and 28th in category. Their time was 3hrs 45mins 41secs

As well as picking up the Four Oared Other trophy again this year we have also received a lot of thanks from participants and event organisers for our support of the event.

Credit for the photos go to Alex Workman and Steve Thomson. Possibly Ewen for the last one

Your paddling convener (Willie Bell) hopes to organise a 2-Day Emergency First Aid Course.  At the end of this fully approved course you will be given a certificate to confirm your abilities in First aid.  This course could be used to confirm your ability as a first aider at work or for another organisation. 10 to 12 participants are required.  The date has not yet been set but two proposed dates are shown on the poster below.

This is an excellent course that will provide you with important skills that all people should posses.


Your paddling convener (Willie Bell)  is planning to arrange a Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning Course.  This course will be of interest to those who go out on the water and want to better understand coastal navigation, tides and weather.  This will be the second time that the Boat Club has run facilitated this course.  Previous participants found it a very valuable and rewarding course.  During the Course you will undertake the planning of a 2 day trip considering tides, weather and how these can aid paddling, sailing and rowing.

If you are interested in attending this event, please email Willie at canoeing@rwsabc.com. Please title the email “CNTP2.”  Use of Whatsapp, Facebook, the List at the Boat Club, or Doodle at http://bit.ly/2kmTffU (two kilo mike TANGO foxtrot foxtrot UNIFORM) is also acceptable.  (for information Doodle is a on-line platform that allows users to arrange meetings and courses by identifying the dates that you are available)

Shown below is a poster prepared for the event:

Shown below are the results for the 2019 RWSABC Tail O’ The Bank Surf Ski and kayak race held on 31 August in challenging conditions.

Some information on the event with a few photographs can be found here:  http://www.rwsabc.co.uk/rwsabc-tail-o-the-bank-2019/

The results below only show those participants who completed the event.

As part of the ongoing Ogilvies development the remainder of the old fence & metalwork are likely to be removed in the coming days. This is ahead of the wall being reduced in height from next week.

It is being reduced to approximately 1100mm high on our side from the back of the new Boathouse through to just before the Ladies Changing room at the rear.

Almost all of the work will be undertaken from the other side of the wall, so minimal disruption on our side.

We have negotiated retaining some of the stone to build up the ground level in front and to the West of the new Boathouse. This should give us protection from erosion and possibly some usable space.

The stone will be deposited to the West of the Boathouse for us to use and it would be good if each member could find a few hours in the coming weeks to help relocate it.

Photos by Alex Workmen

On Saturday 31 August 2019, 31 competitors had signed up to participate in the RWSABC Tail O’ The Bank Kayak and Surf Ski race.  Conditions were very windy and the course was changed from the original course that goes out into the Clyde and around the Captayannis sugar ship to a course up and down The Esplanade.  At the end, 3 surf ski competitors completed the 10 mile event with the winner being Robin Lang from Canada with a time of 1h39m, second was Alan Hunter from North Berwick with a time of 1h45m and third was Steve Glynn from Devon with a time of 1h51m.  Only one competitor finished the full 10 mile course in a kayak and that was Colin Campbell of RWSABC with a time of 1h49m.  Two Boat Club members completed the 4 mile event which was won by Mark Hansen with a time of 45m.  Mark Gallagher also completed the 4 mile event with a time of 50 minutes.
Challenge Medals were presented to Susan Smith from Drumchapel and Clydebank Kayak Club who had to retire after 6 miles and to Paul Hignet from Bishopbriggs who was competing in his first ever sea race and who also retired early.
There is an excellent write up of the event in Inverclyde Now and you can read more about the event by following this link:

© 2017 Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club Site by Pam Forsyth Web Design Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha