“Sunshine over Millport”

We may not have walked 500 miles but clubs from as far afield as Fairlie, Irvine, Troon, Anstruther, Pittenweem & Port Seton joined us at Cumbrae in competing in the Cumbrae CRC Regatta this year. Again, another regatta on the West Coast blessed with beautiful weather and relatively calm conditions.

As with every year at Millport the event started the night before, with the teams arriving and getting settled in the campsite at the Garrison, described by one member of Boatie Blest as “Party Central”. Although comfortable dry accommodation was available at various hostelries and hostels on the island, the majority chose the field between the Garrison and the all purpose sports field as their home from home.

Initial attempts were made by the race organiser on Friday night to establish the entries for the racing on Saturday, before a large number of highly tuned athletes retired from the Newton Bar to the karaoke at The George Hotel.

Saturday morning saw the arrival of Troon, with their customary pagoda, chairs, flags and cups of tea. All happy and eager to get racing. A welcome sight to the slightly beleaguered “highly tuned athletes” who had been camped on Friday night. Final entries received, race programme written, coxes brief completed, umpires volunteered, the event got underway about 10am with the first of a series of head-to-head straight sprint events. The course was along the Newton Shore from Crocodile Rock jetty to the big stone in front of the Garrison, maybe 200-250 yards.

Results as follows:
Open Men 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd St. Ayles
Open Women 1st St. Ayles, 2nd Pittenweem
40+ Men 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd Troon
40+ Women 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd St Ayles
50+ Women 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd Pittenweem
Open Mixed 1st St. Ayles, 2nd Firth of Clyde
40+ Mixed 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd St. Ayles
50+ Mixed 1st Pittenweem, 2nd Troon
Decades 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd Troon

The Decades event required that the age of each of those rowing had to be from a different decade (Teens, 20’s, 30’s, etc.)

Due to local tidal and beach conditions the final two events of the day were planned as long distance timed processional races, very much as was run at Royal West in June. Crews waited “patiently” on the water for one member of their crew to run down from the Control Gazebo at the top of the beach and leap into the boat. They would then set off East along the shore line to the end of the moorings before turning South to The Eileans. The stretch between the two marks on the South side of the islands, kindly laid by Cumbrae Watersports Centre, kept crews on their toes, as the swells coming up the Firth from Wee Cumbrae were surprisingly large. Once round the second mark they turned North again in a sprint, with a following sea, to the beach. But the racing did not finish there. A member of the crew had to sprint back up the beach to the Control Gazebo where Colin “the timekeeper” from Anstruther clocked them back in. He was ably assisted by young Sarah Graham of Royal West, who wrote down the order of returning crews.

As you can imagine the antics of some of the crews leaving and returning provided entertainment to skiffies and the general public alike. Think one boat lost its rudder on leaving the beach, during both races. A few folk fell into the water, instead of their boats. Heard that there is at least one VHF at the bottom of Newton Bay.

There were two races. The Best Crew category, where captains selected their Best Crew, and the 250+ Crew, where the total age of the crew (incl. cox) had to be at least 250 years.

The results and times were as follows:
Best Crew
1. Boatie Blest (11:54:36)
2. St. Ayles (12:23:56)
3. Royal West (13:40:27)
4. Pittenweem (13:58:02
5. Troon (14:34:99)
6. Firth of Clyde (15:10:75)
7. Cumbrae (16:29:02)

250+ Crew
1. St. Ayles (12:52:82)
2. Royal West (13:45:33)
3. Cumbrae (13:59:30
4. Pittenweem (14:50:56
5. Boatie Best (15:41:50)
6. Troon (16:12:24)

Overall Champion for the day were Boatie Blest, for the third year in a row. They were awarded the Newton Shield and a set of medals as well as bottle of Whiskey.

The overall results were as follows:
1. Boatie Blest – 284
2. St. Ayles – 276
3. Pittenweem – 198
4. Troon – 182
5. Royal West – 176
6. Cumbrae – 160
7. Firth of Clyde – 86

There were very encouraging performances by both Pittenweem and Troon yesterday. Finishing 3rd & 4th respectively in the overall rankings they also featured in 3 finals each with Pittenweem winning the 50+ Mixed event.

Although Royal West did not achieve as high a ranking in the overall scores as in previous years, we did perform very well in the two Long Distance events finishing 3rd in the Best Crew category and 2nd in the 250+ category. In the Best Crew category the crew consisted of Campbell McCall, Andrew Graham (13 yrs old but a powerful member of the crew), Christine Morrison (a new member who joined the Club following a taster session on Stornoway) and Tnisha Dodge-Forder, they were coxed by Mat Henderson. The 250+ crew was Karen Graham, Adam Graham, Mat Henderson & Ian Clark, coxed by Tnisha Dodge-Forder.

On Friday night there had been a request from some St. Ayles members that a Dolphin Show and Cocktails on the beach be included in the event programme. Not wishing to disappoint her pals Sarah Graham of Royal West arranged both. Just prior to the prize giving there was a performance by a dancing dolphin and then the presentation of cocktails for them to enjoy.

At the prize giving Cumbrae CRC deputy captain Austin thanked all those who helped out during the day from the town and visiting clubs. With the kind assistance of Caledonian MacBrayne the visiting clubs enjoyed free passage to and from the island for the towing vehicles & boats. Thanks should also go to Emma Newton and her team at the Sail & Oar Festival, provided free camping and entrance to the Ceilidh, as well as the prizes on the day.

The friendly collaborative atmosphere of the whole weekend was great.

Next West Coast event is at Largs Marina in two weeks when Firth of Clyde host their regatta as part of a larger event being held by the marina. Racing will be later in the day and will take in not only the area near the marina but probably also up into Largs and maybe across to the Cumbrae Watersports Centre as well.

Adam Graham
Hon. Sec.