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.

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