I am going to apologies in advance as it was only when I sat down to write this that I realised how busy we had been this past year. So please bear with me as I take you through a brief summary of another successful rowing year for Royal West.

Let’s start with a statistical FACT courtesy of Joe Heffernan. Participation in rowing activities is up by 6.2% on last year and 149.5% on the year before.

The main element of rowing activity is based around competition, training & attending regattas. There weren’t as many regattas to attend as usual because all clubs within the Scottish Coastal rowing community had their sights firmly set on the upcoming St Ayles Skiff World Championships (affectionately known as SkiffieWorlds) which were held in Stranraer in July.

We kicked off the main season in March with a training day held in the clubhouse. The primary reason behind this was to prepare our team for the SkiffieWorlds. The focus was on terminology and rules of racing and the day itself was led by Adam and Ronald Graham, 2 of the clubs most experienced competitive rowers. The day was a huge success and all who attended indicated that it was of great benefit.

The Opening Cruise was our first main event back on the 6th April, where members across all the sporting disciplines headed to Kilcreggan in various craft to enjoy some refreshments before heading back to the club.

We attended Regattas in Port Seton, Inveraray, Largs and Arran. Troon which is always a firm favourite with Royal West was unfortunately cancelled twice due to weather. In Inveraray we were asked by Alastair Rodden to run the regatta to help promote the local community to build a skiff and get involved. It was heartening to see a few non-competitive members turn up and offer support.

Our own regatta was on the 1st June and saw the return of clubs from North Berwick, Anstruther, Portobello, Largs and Arran. Another fantastic regatta with all clubs expressing their appreciation of the facilities we have and the welcome they always receive.

And before we knew it, the 7th of July was upon us, and we were off to the SkiffieWorlds in Stranraer. With a record entry of 693 crews from 55 clubs worldwide, including teams from as far away as the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Tasmania, this World Championship event for the St Ayles Skiff class of Coastal Rowing Boats was one not to be missed.

On the Thursday before setting off, we had a final formal briefing to the team at which the new racing kit was issued. The kit was paid for by a very kind sponsor Orr Kerr Dyke Financial Services Ltd. (owned by one of our members, Elaine Hunter). It was presented to the team by the Vice President Heather Scott, who wished them all the best at the championships and thanked the sponsor for their generous donation.

A team of 18 competitors headed to Stranraer to Camp Royal West as it became known. We basically took over a farm site with caravans, campervans, tents and a lovely 3 bed cottage! The Club was asked by the chairman of the SCRA to entertain the Chairman & Chief Executive of RYA Scotland on the Monday following the official opening by HRH Princess Anne. One of the highlights of the week was when I and some other members had the opportunity to meet and chat with Princess Anne where I explained a little about our Club.

We raced on five of the six days of the regatta in eleven events. The racing was intense and conditions sometimes a little trying but nothing that we weren’t used to. I am pleased to say that Royal West made five finals with the best place we achieved was 4th in the world. I can report that Royal West finished 25th overall out of 55 clubs at this World Championship event. We are aiming for top 20 in three years’ time.

As you can imagine, we were all somewhat exhausted after our Skiffieworlds adventure and so most of the competitive rowers had a bit of a rest. Not too much though as we still had the Castle to Crane in September to prepare for.

Castle to Crane on 21st September 2019. This is the biggest open water rowing race to be held in Scotland. 13 miles of racing from Dumbarton Castle to the Finnieston Crane in the heart of Glasgow. The race is open to any fixed seat, coxed rowing boats of at least four oars. This was the third year that this spectacular 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 SkiffieWorlds in July, however, even with several overseas clubs not attending, there were more boats this year.

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.
Jollyboat Naiad’s progress through the fleet was quite remarkable. Having set off 37th were the 5th boat to cross the line recorded the fastest time on the day at 2hrs 13mins 19secs.
Jollyboat 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.
St. Ayles Skiff Chippy was 34th across the line, finished 54th overall but 9th in category.
St. Ayles Skiff Birdie was 74th over the line but 70th overall and 28th in category.

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.

We ended the racing year with another great turnout by the Club at the SCRA sponsored Freshwater Sprints at loch Tummel Sailing Club. Again, with the largest number of participants of any club. We retained the Picnic Class Trophy. Karyn Donnachie & Adam Graham have won this Trophy in one of our 16’s for the last three years.

In other developments we hosted a corporate day for a local firm, Insight Travel Services, with whom VP Heather & I both worked at the time. This saw us coaching in the morning and having a short regatta in the afternoon. All wrapped up with a barbecue. This brought us in a new member and encouraged one of the Glasgow staff to take up rowing in the city. The day was such a success that they plan to return.

Our wider involvement in the resurgent coastal rowing community includes Adam Graham’s return to the Committee of the SCRA in October last year. He has responsibility for the South West Region of Scotland.

We are currently involved with a charity in Dumbarton who are forming a new rowing club who have asked for our help and advice. Similarly, we are in discussions with Royal Gourock YC who are in the process of building two skiffs. They have also asked for our advice with the build and are keen to build closer relations between our two clubs. This will include coaching at their club and here, as well as support of their launch event.

We can make a tentative claim to three impressive rowing records set last year. A former club Captain and Life Member, Duncan Graham, who started rowing at Royal West about 40 years ago, was in the crew who set new world records for rowing the length of Loch Ness, set a new course record for the Great River Race on the Thames and a new world record for crossing the English Channel. Duncan is part of a crew of veteran oarsmen based on the Thames.

We also played host to an informal gathering of the major fixed seat coastal rowing associations from all parts of the UK and Republic of Ireland. Associations that represent about 20,000 participating members. This gathering was a significant moment for fixed seat rowing and Royal West were incredibly privileged to play such an important part in this event.

As you may be aware this is Visit Scotland’s Year of Coast & Waters. As part of this the Club was in discussions with Inverclyde Council to promote our activities through their various promotional events to do with this. The Club is also involved with the SCRA RowAround Scotland batten relay, which received a substantial grant by Visit Scotland. Under the current circumstances, a virtual version of this event, started yesterday (25th March) in Gretna and will circumnavigate (in a virtual sense) the coast of Scotland, finishing its trip in mid-September in Eyemouth. It passes through Inverclyde twice. Once in late April and then again in September as it is transferred from Inverclyde to Dumbarton for the start of the Castle to Crane race on 19th September.

Rowing at Royal West encourages existing members to take part, new members to join, new clubs to form and the wider community of coastal rowing clubs in Scotland and further afield to work together for the benefit of all. I hope that we can get back on the water in the not too distant future.

Trust this explains the key points of the last year.

Karen Graham
Rowing Convenor

Hi all,

We would normally have posted the 2019/20 Accounts and Proposed Budgets for 2020/21 on the Club Noticeboard last weekend. This would have been pointless as the clubhouse is closed and things were evolving hour-by-hour, that would impact on the 20/21 Budget. I will come back to the year ahead a little later.

Looking at our Financial Year 2019/20, it was another success for the Club. The Bar showed a profit of £1,157 and the House showed a profit of £578. The Clubs accounts were independently audited and signed off on 3rd March 2020 by Louise Wilson CA. A full set of the accounts will be available for everyone to view as soon as the clubhouse can re-open. They can be discussed and any explanations provided at the AGM when we can hold one.

The good performance last year was in part due to prudent management of our costs, but also in the increased activity on and off the water generating income through Subs, Bar revenue & Fundraising events. Long may this growth continue.

As regards the year ahead, we need to make sure the Club survives this international crisis. We are looking into various rebates and other cost saving measures. You may also have heard we sold bar stock last weekend that would have gone out of date in the next 2 months. We also gave some to the IRH staff and a local food bank. We may do a similar exercise in the future depending on how long the bar needs to stay closed. As we have not relied on income from the Bar to support the Club’s House account its closure will only really impact on our ability to pay the staff wages. We should be able to get some assistance from central government towards this. We have good staff and will need them for the After Party.

On a serious note though, we do need to ask you to pay Subs for the coming year to cover costs. The level of these Subs should be published shortly and will be set to make sure we pay our essential suppliers, insurance and have something in reserve for unforeseen maintenance. They also allow for the possibility that some of you may choose not to renew.

The package we will propose is at a lower level than last year, will have flexibility as to when you start paying and over what period. Please read it carefully before making any decision. If you are in any doubt contact Rose or myself to discuss payment. We want to retain the membership numbers we have all worked so hard to build for years now, but we also need to make sure the Club survives so we have somewhere for the After Party.

Marie Paterson
Honorary Treasurer

Membership

There are currently 320 members which is a considerable increase in last year when we had 294. (8.12% increase).
Female membership currently stands at 24.1%, an increase of 4.1% on last year, not including Ogilvies members. Listed below is current membership by category. There were 20 resignations and 1 demise.
Clubhouse – 70
Country – 6
Honorary Life – 51
Honorary Member – 1
Honorary Member (Post.) – 2
Honorary President – 1
Life – 39
Life/Family – 3
Junior/Family – 17
Ordinary – 98
Ordinary/Family -9
Student – 2
Ogilivie – 42

Ogilvies

The complimentary membership for the residents of the Ogilvies development is coming to an end in the new season, except for the new block which is in the process of being occupied. All affected by the changes have been notified in advance of the new season and invited to join as Clubhouse members or indeed Ordinary members, when the renewal notices go out. Many members from the new flats have played an active part in the club and there have already been some positive responses although I expect that not all will renew. There are currently 42 Members within the Ogilvies development.

Temporary membership

47 individuals took advantage of temporary membership. This, as signalled last year, is a significant reduction. However, the percentage transferring to full membership has remained stable at 45%. Full credit is due to the sporting conveners given that it was a less than ideal season weather wise.
Clubhouse – 4/4/100%
Kayaking – 33/12/36%
Kayaking/Swimming – 2/0/0%
Rowing – 5/3/60%
Sailing – 2/1/50%
OWS – 1/1/100%
Total – 47/21/45%

SCA

It is hoped that we can make some changes to the renewal form to include an “opt in” for affiliation to the SCA. This will avoid the need for two forms.

Due to the extraordinary situation we are currently in, I will make no reference to the level of subscriptions or payment methods as this will be dealt with separately.

My sincere good wishes to all in this difficult time.

Rose Sloan
Subscriptions Convener
RWSABC

I am delighted to say that the past year seems to have been another successful for the activities in the club.

I must stress that the success is not down to any one person. Although I am making this report it is not all due to me. It is wonderful to see the enthusiasm and ideas coming from the general membership, who after all the social activities should be all about.

The Boat Club Acoustic Sessions are still well attended by both musicians and members and friends who come to listen. It is amazing to think that the sessions will be 9 years old in July this year.

I saw a posting in Facebook asking if there were any Ukulele players meeting up in the Inverclyde area. There didn’t seem to be any so in May last year I started the monthly Uke Strums on Saturday afternoons. These are fun and have brought us a wide range of participants aged from about 6 to let us say “senior”. Some of our member, neighbours from the flats are regular attenders.

It is great to see the winter talks continuing to grow and bring people together in the clubhouse. Well done to Tom and Paul and all involved.

We had Cocktail and Whisky Tastings last year and I had planned for a Gin Tasting on the 15th May. I am currently in discussions to reschedule that as I feel there is too much uncertainty that we will be able to hold social gatherings again by mid-May. If possible I would like to work on another Cocktail Tasting for during the summer months.

The Movie Nights are becoming legendary and Lesley McLaren and her small team of helpers are doing a wonderful job that brings fun and funds to the club.

In November I held a CD launch in with Barrie Kelly, the Ten Gallon Bratz and friends, including our stain glass artist, Alex Galloway. It was a sell out and another achievement for our club to have it held there.

Allan Downie has also held very successful music nights in the club and I believe intends to bring more this year once the Government restrictions are lifted. Sadly Lesley McLaren’s band, The Revel Sparks has had to be cancelled due to the current policy in avoiding unnecessary social gatherings. Hopefully they will be able to play the club later in the year.

The Curry and Quiz nights organised by Vicky Cookson and Robb Ross are now proving very popular and it is terrific to see another new social idea introduced to the club’s activities.

We managed a bonfire and firework nights despite the miserable weather.

The annual Hogmanay Party sold out in record time and was another big success for the members and friends who are the Hogmanay Hoolies.

In January we held an informal Burns Night; Bard at the Boat Club. This included a buffet Burns supper, toasts, poetry recitals, and music all supplied by members and friends of the club. It proved so a popular that we will be planning a similar event for next year and let’s hope we can get that wonderful haggis again. Very tasty.

Once the club is fully opened again I hope we can see our members and their friends coming to the club and using the bar facilities to enjoy the social side of club life and helping our funds which will no doubt be depleted this year with the cancellation of so many events. We have a cosy comfortable bar, in a tremendous location, with balcony, beach and garden. It is staffed by lovely people. Please use it for a refreshment, alcoholic or otherwise , when you come off the water or for an evening or afternoon out with friends.

As Social Convener, on behalf of the Committee I would like to thank all those who work so hard with enthusiasm and gusto to make the social scene at our wonderful club such a success. Please feel free to talk to me if you have any ideas you would want to see us put on in the club and I will do all I can to support it.

Warm regards,
George Carson
Social Convener.

It’s been a very busy 12 months across all disciplines & areas of the club both on and off the water including the beach.

So what has been done over the last 12 months?

Slip Rota

A slip rota has been put in place and you guys came forward very quickly to not only add your name to this, to your credit every volunteer turned up by their own accord on their allocated month and did the job.

Land reclaim Area

This year saw an effort being made to reclaim some beach area to the west side of the slip using masonry removed from the wall of the housing development next door to the club. Despite the best efforts of our volunteering members, the recent storms at the beginning of this year have had some impact unfortunately so this will be revisited in the future when life gets back to normal.

Rear Gardens

You may have noticed the bushes in the center of the rear gardens have been removed and replaced with seeded grass. This has been done for future activities at the club and the potential of visiting clubs to camp overnight while attending summer events allowing us to offer them to enjoy an evening’s entertainment and hospitality at the RWSABC.

Trailers & Boat storage

You will have seen on various club communications we have been making an effort to clean up the unused trailers and boats lying on our beach and control what is currently stored there. As mentioned last year at the AGM we now have a tagging system almost ready for implementing. Thanks to the members who contacted me regarding this, your input and suggestion have been considered and very helpful. However removal of boats and activity requiring people getting together is currently put on hold until further notice due to the COVID-19 situation.

Community Area

Many of us have been working hard to clean up our beach with the intention of creating a community area where members and families can come down and enjoy the beach we are so lucky to have at our club. BBQs, get togethers, kids skimming stones and adults enjoying a refreshment whilst looking across the clyde with friends on a summers evening is all part of the vision the committee have for our beach. This is something that will not happen overnight but with your help and funds in the future specifically being raised for this cause…..it is something we all feel and hope is achievable with a bit of hard work and effort.

So what can you do to help??

Well right now not a lot!….We are all aware the Coronavirus is having a massive effect on our lives and our way of living….so right now the only thing we can really all do is to support the club financially if we can through this time so the club can still be in existence and here for us all once this is over and normal activity can resume.

My Thanks

This past year we have had a great response and I have to thank all members that came along and rolled up their sleeves, got involved in various work parties throughout 2019 and raised money towards the community beach project! The team effort and sense of Royal West community has been outstanding even when there was some tough & heavy jobs to be done like #sleepergate, #pointthewallgate, #drystonedykegate and #howbigsyerbeach. You turned up in numbers and really made a difference. As mentioned earlier when we introduced a slip clean rota you guys very quickly, from across all sporting club disciplines, came forward & not just put your name down but turned up and did the job on the month you said you would!! I thank you all and hope you continue to support these various work parties & rotas when a form of normality resumes!

Once again thank you all so much for your efforts during 2019…Stay safe and I hope to see you all later this year at the Royal West Scotland ABC!

Stuart Barr
Beach Convenor
beach@rwsabc.com

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