Jollyboat, skiffs, forklifts & conkers. Dumfries & Galloway on a Saturday

Pirates of The Nith

On the penultimate competitive outing by the Club, a rowing squad of nine attended the Nith Navigation Race with Chippy McNish and Sprite. Sprite is one of the Club’s three Jollyboats.

Royal West Jollyboat Sprite

There were six boats in the race from five clubs (Royal West, N. Berwick, N. Queensferry, Troon & Carrick). We raced from Glencaple to Whitesands in Dumfries, North up the Nith, with the tide.

In the style of the Heads events boats started by rowing through the start line one at a time where the watch started. The start order was

The Wightman Family from N. Berwick in Speedwell

Ailsa Lass from Troon

Ferry Sonnet from N.Queensferry

Carrick Maid, from Carrick

Chippy McNish


The finishing order was a very different picture.

Within the first mile, of the 5 mile race, Sprite had caught up with and passed Chippy McNish. By the two mile mark it had passed Troon & Carrick. As the river narrowed and the tidal influenced decreased we happened upon the coxed double scull crewed by the Wightman family of N. Berwick. The very relaxed approach by thier cox nearly led to some encounters with over hanging branches, and reminded the crew in Sprite of lazy days spent messing about on the river.

Pressing on, Sprite was rapidly chasing down the powerful crew from N.Queensferry, as the pleasent late summer sounds of Dumfries town centre approached (the fair was in town, you couldn’t hear yourself think). Our cox saw an increase in the N.Queensferry rating as we turned the last corner on the river, and called for more power from his crew. Finishing one minute behind N.Queensferry, Sprite recorded the fastest time over the course and a new course record of 43:15. Finishing order by time was as follows:

Sprite (RW) 43:15
Ferry Sonnet (NQ) 46:30
Chippy McNish (RW) 47:15
Carrick Maid (CCRC) 47:45
Speedwell (NB) 49:30
Ailsa Lass (TCRC) 50:00

Chippy McNish’s crew of M.Paterson, M.B.Henderson, C.Ford, P.Charlsewood(TCRC) & I.Clark turned in an impressive performance, finishing third overall and second in the St.Ayles Skiff category.

The boats then cruised down to Kingholm Quay, about 1 mile back down the course. The crew in Sprite (R. Graham(Bow), K.Graham(2), Capt.A.Paterson(3), A.Graham(Stroke) & C.Campbell(Cox)) stretched her legs a bit further during this trip by practicing racing starts and at one point racing the safety boat. The feeling in Sprite was one of exhileration at the speed and responsiveness of this old, but impressive, racing boat. At one point during the race we were recorded doing 9.9mph, we averaged 7.1mph over the full distance. The fastest skiff did the course in an average of 6.1mph.

At Kingholm Quay, where the boats were to be lifted out by telescopic forklift, there was an opportunity for some interested folks to come out in Sprite. Bob Dawson of Troon commented on Facebook “Nice to be invited to row a boat twice as old as me, feeling priviliged”, he also added “120 years old, held together with copper rivets, fast as f**k”. (Cheers Bob, glad you enjoyed the outing).

At Kingholm Quay we also had the fun of lifting the boats out. In particular there was the scene of a certain Mr.Campbell being hoisted out like Queen Victoria.

Colin & Sprite being hoisted

Prior to the prizegiving at The Swan we had a barbecue and then enjoyed the delights of a knockout conker competition. The winner was a lady involved with the skiff in Annan, she was awarded a Golden Conker. Below is the Convenor of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association loosing to his daughter.

Go on Robbie!!!!!!

For the full set of photos courtesy of Bob Dawson & Karen Graham follow the link below

Roy Kerr and his team at the Nith Navigational Trust are to be congratulated for thier fantastic organisation of the event and enthusiasm for keeping the Nith navigable. A great day was had by all participants and spectators. Sure to be back next year.

Adam Graham
Hon. Sec.