Is Skye the limit for rowing at Royal West?

The club’s rowing fleet was in action on a number of fronts over the weekend, competitively, socially and promoting the club within the local (and not so local) community.

On Friday Birdie Bowers travelled to the Viking Festival in Largs to form part of the exhibition of products and services provided by The Trust in Port Glasgow ( Birdie will be on display until the Festival closes on 4th September. We have been invited to publicise the Club and Scottish Coastal Rowing, Ian Clark & John Glover are arranging to do during the week. A full programme of events is available at

On Saturday morning a group left town with Chippy McNish for North Berwick to compete in their regatta. The grim weather forecast for the day did not materialise and the crew took part in two events, Men’s 35+ and Men’s Open. The course was over 2 nautical miles from just off North Berwick harbour wall NW to Craigleith, clockwise round it and then South back to North Berwick. At times the swell was 5-6 foot and you could not see the rest of the fleet or the shore. The combination of scenery, swell and race length, all wrapped in a comfortable blanket of safety, made for some very exciting racing regardless of where you finished in the results.

A report and photos from the event can be found at

The full results are available at

In the Men’s 35+ the club came in 4th in a field of 7, in the Men’s Open we came in 7th in a field of 11. As can be seen in the times for the Open event the battle for 6th, 7th, 8th & 9th was hotly contended, far more so than 1st-5th. There was 12 seconds separating four boats after a 2 mile race. There was only one second between Royal West and Portobello.

North Berwick was the last SCRA regatta of the year, although there are some events and invitational races being planned.

On the way back from North Berwick Chippy McNish stopped over at South Queensferry to help resurrect a traditional race between South and North Queensferry. On Sunday afternoon a crew from Queensferry RC ( ) in Ferry Lass and a composite crew from Royal West & Queensferry RC in Chippy McNish raced from the Hawes Pier, under the rail bridge, on the South side to the old railway pier on the North. The event formed part of a Harbour Day Festival in the North and was being used to promote the formation of a rowing club on the North side.

Conditions were well within the capabilities of the boats and crews but the safety cover provided by the RNLI was welcome as the wind against tide was generating waves that varied from 2-5 feet. The crossing took about 30-35mins and was won by the local crew in Ferry Lass.

Burgers, coffee and cake were taken at the Harbour Festival. We were joined by the team from Anstruther who had stopped over on their way back from North Berwick to cheer on the crews.

The RNLI Lifeboat provided safety cover for the crossing South to North was called away on business prior to the return crossing. The return was more direct as the boats headed for Port Edgar marina under the road bridge. The conditions had eased slightly due to the tide having turned but the crossing was still exciting.

Once the boats were safely back ashore at Queensferry RC the tea and biscuits were broken out again and we were joined by some of the Anstruther team for a chat and debrief about the whole weekend. It was a fantastic example of the friendliness and spirit of the SCRA community.

There was also rowing activity back at the Club over the weekend. It is forty years since they’ve all been together, but on Saturday six ‘old codgers’ met up to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the longest row in the Royal West’s history.

In 1971 the ‘lads’ as they were then rowed in the Zebra from the club in Greenock to Skye and back, a round trip of some 400 miles. This time the trip was the somewhat less arduous pop across the Clyde to Kilcreggan to the local hostelry where they replaced lost fluids and blethered about old times.

“We had a great afternoon,” said Roger Graham. “We had never been together in the one place since these days and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It was difficult to get us all in the one place at the one time as we are spread all over the country, three of the boys coming from down South. In many ways it was like old times.

“Most of us were involved in several long rows at the time, including one to Ireland and another to the Outer Hebrides when we tried to get to St Kilda, but bad weather intervened. The Skye row was the longest as it turned out, probably because the weather was a bit better that year.”

“We would like to thank the club for their support in preparing the boat, and also to those who helped the old men up and down the slip with the boat.” While we all agreed that age has only leant us a certain distinguished air, we could not argue that a few pounds have gone on here and there, and I don’t mean at the Bookies.

“There was a suggestion that we ought to make it an annual event. That will be the Wizard annual, or the Beano I think.”

The ‘Lads’ in the photo above are (from Bow to Stern) Roger Graham, Colin Campbell, Sam Brown, Dugald Carmichael, Ian Cameron and Ian MacDonald.

Roger has agreed to speak on some of his Long Rows at a forthcoming SCRA coaching event at Royal West on the last weekend of October. More about that event will be posted on the website and Club notice boards.