- Published on 04 September 2016
It's not all about the racing, fresh from raiding Largs of their Medals, Medium John (won't be Medium for long seeing as he was seen polishing off, not one, but two Ice Cream sundaes in Largs) rallied the troops for an early morning outing to Fidra. Clearly still on West Coast time, the planned 2 hour outing spanned into 3 as the crew refused to get off Fidra until a decent attempt had been made on the coffee and cake. Just as well because it was sunshine all the way back, as we cruised into NB.
- Published on 04 September 2016
We love going to Largs, a 2 hour trip leaving North Berwick at a fairly civilized time to head over to the West Coast for some skiff racing over a mixture of 2K races and 500m sprints....not sure they're so keen of having us as for the second time, we raided most of their medals...oops.
We took a squad of 15 for this years Largs regatta on Saturday, conditions when we arrived were pretty challenging. A stiff southerly breeze was whipping up the sea to produce white tops, but we like it a bit rough so we coped well with the conditions as we tackled the 2K, which involved surfing down to a buoy before battling back for the second half, great stuff.
Our men got a pretty good start, but doubted ourselves when the other competitors stalled on the line, a quick check to ensure we hadn't false started before getting stuck into the kind of racing we enjoy, check it out on this video.
After the 2Ks the format shifted to a 500m sprint, a good opportunity for some new coxes to have a go at racing without the complication of mass starts and single buoy turns. The rain had started which flattened the water and made the racing faster, doesn't bother us though, we like it wet :-)
Thank goodness for the Gazebo, we were able to enjoy a lovely West Coast Indian summer (raining cats and dogs, but not actually Baltic). We knew Newburgh were keeping their powder dry and so it seemed as they knocked us down to second in the last two sprints of the day.
We must make more trips over to the West, they have great water, lovely scenery and tremendous ice creams.
- Published on 29 August 2016
In sitting down to write a Captain’s report for our regatta, I’m painfully aware of two things; the newly raw areas of my bottom from one too many trips around the Craig, and the likelihood that in describing all the effort, hard work, racing success and community spirit embodied in regatta day I’m at real risk of exhausting superlatives.
The success of the regatta and the wonderful feedback we’ve had from the 13 clubs who came to race, eat cake (in vast quantities) and make merry, is testament to our little club’s diverse and talented membership. You should all be very proud of yourselves!
The day started with grave doubts about the weather and sea conditions – flat calm and practically windless is not what visiting crews have come to expect from a North Berwick regatta. Fortunately the weather gods started to see sense after lunch and conditions in the afternoon deteriorated nicely to give everyone a proper flavour of coastal rowing (I was gratified to see rowers visiting for the first time describe how rough and tough it was whilst wearing big smiles on their faces).
The full race results are, of course, available to see on the club website so I won’t go into the minutia of each race but I was delighted that over 50 rowers competed for North Berwick (the majority of whom had two rows) and every single one did the club proud. In all bar three races we had two boats entered, and in the Mixed Open and Men’s Open we went one better and had all three North Berwick skiffs on the water!
Owing to the considerable advantage of having this kind of gargantuan force we didn’t run an overall club points competition, but luckily Rain-Man Davidson (Ed: NB being an arty place, knowing your 7 times table constitutes being at the idiot savant end of the spectrum) calculated it anyway and we would have finished on top with Eastern just 2 points astray. Golds from both 40+ crews, 60+, Mixed 45+ and Men’s Open were supplemented with crucial Bronze points from our Novices, Under 19s and Ladies Open. Special mentions to novice Vana who was subbed into the Ladies Open crew at the eleventh hour (and won her second bronze of the day), Medium, Fin, The Andies and cox Elisa who formed a scratch Men’s crew with seconds to spare and came 5th, and Connor, who survived an audacious attempt by Saskia to change his hair style from the other boat.
Compared to previous years where rough water tended to spread the field widely on the approach to the island or turning buoy, the calm conditions made for fierce competition with tight packs of boats vying for position so hats off to the coxes for keeping calm in the melee and of course thanks to the safety boats, umpires, starters and timers (and David Davidson for organising them all) who kept us safe.
Rachael and Tracy did a fantastic job organising the Hope Rooms and a spread of rolls, cakes, sweets and treats made by members and their families on a sumptuous scale was happily devoured by our visitors. Thanks to all who provided the goodies and everyone who helped run the stall and clean the place up in record time.
The church hall was packed for the presentation of the 180 diving gannet medals crafted by Yolanda and her team and it was fantastic to see our visitors in their many club colours enjoying a drink and some post-race analysis. Particularly satisfying, if I may speak with my Men’s Open hat on (note to Clive: we need hats), was the proof that our sartorial elegance hadn’t gone unnoticed at the World’s and had inspired the women of Avoch to wear vibrant tutus tastefully accessorised with a black and yellow wig for Alan their cox. It feels like pebbles falling before the avalanche… As ever DJ Sandy provided the aural stimulation required after a long day at sea and although it may not have been obvious at the time I can confirm that I thoroughly enjoyed the dancing.
Without further gilding of the lily and callously ignoring the waves of sentiment lapping lightly around my ankles I would finish by saying how proud I am that we demonstrated the very best values of our club on Saturday and long may that continue.
- Published on 05 August 2016
With the first day of racing came all the nerves of rowing on a brand new course with unknown current, tide and wind fluctuations against unknown crews from around the world. Many of us had made the foolish assumption that the Irish clubs, being very new to the coastal rowing family, would probably not pose much of a threat. Monday was the first indication of just how wrong we were!
North Berwick were entered in all three of the day’s categories – Mixed B, Women’s 60+ and the Men’s 40+. Of those only the Men’s 40+ didn’t have their final until the following day.
First up was the Mixed Open B crew of Claire Wallace, Tracy Ramage, Clive Rooney and Ian Baird. They went in the second of three heats and after a nervy start pulled their way to 3rd place ensuring qualification for the final.
Our 60+ crew of Jeannie Newcombe, Jane McMinn, Meg Ennis and Patsy James (borrowed from Portobello) showed us how it should be done, romping home to win their heat 22 seconds ahead of local club Dundrum and earning a place in the final.
Our 40+ Men’s crew of Robbie Wightman, David Davidson, Rob Harley and John Irvine cantered through the opposition to win their heat and, since their final was the following day, were able to sit down and start worrying about Tuesday.
In the 2 finals of the day our Mixed Open B team settled into their rhythm, taking nearly 1 minute off their heat time and chasing Cockenzie and St Ayles right to the line to claim our first Bronze medal of the championship. Our indomitable 60+ Ladies repeated the result in their final chasing Broughty and a resurgent Dundrum in a very tight battle to the finish (just 6 seconds between 1st and 3rd places) to take the Bronze.
Overall a great start to the week and much to think about for the next day, in particular where to get something other than cheeseburgers for lunch!
Day 2 was a busy day of rowing and brought in an excellent haul of NB medals, with our first Gold at the worlds. The conditions in the morning were exceptional. The descent from the Skiffie parking field down the muddy lane revealed two things – just how impressive the new NB gazebo is, with the logo visible from all angles - and glassy smooth water, the like of which NB rowers rarely see. The gazebo also proved a lifesaver later on as the water was kept flat by regular downpours before the wind picked up over the day.
The Women’s 40+, the Men’s 60 + and the Under 19s all had heats and finals on the same day – a gruelling challenge. All the NB crews got through to their finals. The Women’s 40+ crew (Lizzie, Louise, Laura and Jacque, coxed by Claire W-S) pipped Anstruther to the Bronze in a lung-busting race to the very finish. The Men’s 60+ (Johnny, Sandy, Hugh and Ross, coxed by Claire W-S) qualified 4th in their heat and gave their all in a competitive final. Our awesome juniors started to shine through as our Men’s under 17 (Gregor, Connor and Cameron, coxed by Dave) were joined by Frank from Crail and, despite never having rowed together as a crew, brought home the Bronze. Our Men’s 40+ (Robbie, John I, Dave and Rob, coxed by Jacque) in an excellent row, got us the Bronze in what was a very competitive category. Undoubtedly the highlight of the day though, was our Mixed under 19 final. Isla, Heather, Gregor and Cameron, coxed by Dave, brought back the Gold in a decisive win over tough competition. The whole camp cheered them in as they arrived back wreathed in smiles. We had also lent Kirsty out to Anstruther for the same race, and she was rewarded for her efforts with a bronze, a bunch of new friends and true indoctrination into the Skiffie community. Special mention for our amazing coxes – it’s no small feat leaping from coxing to racing and back again while driving us all on.
A weary squad, scrubbed and freshened up, soon perked up for some evening shenanigans at Slievemoyle Cottages. A huge barbeque was presided over by Rob, while big John was his trusty BBQ apprentice. No effort was spared to make us welcome with our NI hosts providing a gazebo to protect the BBQ from the rain and even a band to sing for us. A few of our own even provided a song or two. Work hard, play hard ?.
On Wednesday, Claire WS and Lizzie picked up the baton of responsibility and did a great job looking after us all on and off the water. The usual, cheery band was there on the pontoon to send off and welcome back each of the crews.
First to go was the Women’s Open B team. Lizzie coxed and Claire WS, Clare M, Tracy and Rachael pulled the boat home to take a very convincing 2nd place, thus assuring their position in the final. Following on, the Men’s Open B team, Simon, Richard, Euan and Cameron R, again coxed by Lizzie, rowed into the final, taking 5th position in a ferociously contested heat. Our redoubtable 60+ mixed team, Sandy, Johnny, Jeannie and Meg, with Claire WS at the helm, put in a great performance to win their heat and cruise into the final.
Racing didn’t resume in the afternoon until 3.30 because of the tide, and during this time we were so lucky to have Julianna and Maggie who arrived at the gazebo with the mobile massage table! Several of us were able to take advantage of Julianna’s immense talent to ease aching muscles and relieve tension. Many thanks!
In the finals, the Women battled their way into 6th place and the Men similarly rowed valiantly into 7th position. Our fantastic 60+ mixed crew dismissed most of their opposition and secured a bronze medal for NBRC.
Our day on the water was brought to a close by the medal presentation and crews dispersed to reflect on their performances, tend to their blisters, enjoy the company of friends and prepare for the next day’s racing.
Thursday at Strangford Lough was dreich but with almost perfectly flat water. The first race was the Mixed Open A heats with Finlay, Elisa, Simon and myself with Phil as our cox. Simon and I had rowed the previous day so knew a little of what to expect from the course. As anticipated the competition was fierce but we finished 5th in our heat to go forward to the final the next day...job done!
Next up were the Men's 50+ heats with Clive, Steve, Phil and Graeme. Another competitive race which saw them finishing outside of qualification for the final.
The mixed under 17 final was the next race with Heather, Saskia D-H, Gregor and Connor stepping into Skiff John B. As we'd come to expect from our juniors, another strong performance earned them a silver medal.
The final race on a shorter day of racing was the Women's 50+ heats. Sheena, Norma, Jo and Issy rowed well and secured their place in the final the following day.
For myself, Friday morning wasn't all the long as Saskia (D-H) and I enjoyed a relaxed long lie in our lovely holiday cottage in Stangford village. The first race of the day was underway just as we (Saskia D-H, mum and I) arrived in the sunshine at Castle Ward's tearoom. As I was enjoying a scone and a glass of lemonade, Isla, Emily, Lizzie and Jacque dragged Dave the cox up and down the course to finish third in their heat and secure a place in the final on Saturday (well done girls).
We got a tour of the house from a friendly guide and learned all about how Victorians made ice cream and that they drank nine bottles of wine a day (each) to keep hydrated because supposedly alcohol was much better for you than water (...at the time). During our tour of the house and some wandering around the stunning grounds another two North Berwick crews were giving it their all out on the course. At 1200 the women's 50+ crew narrowly missed out on a medal position, coming fourth in their final - contributing valuable points to our position in the competition for most successful club. Also working much harder than we were, the mixed 40+ rowed a spectacular race, winning their heat with a time of 12 minutes 50 seconds. We arrived at Delamont just in time to be impressed by the open men's A crew, following the lead of the mixed 40+ before them, and storming their heat. Setting themselves in good stead for medal positions in the Saturday final.
The final race of the day was the women's U17s final. After a restful day myself and Saskia (D-H) were ready and eager to step into the boat and row our hearts out. We set out onto the course along with Kirsty and Saskia L, and with Dave kindly coxing us once again. After a nailbightingly close finish between ourselves and Portsoy, a photographer confirmed our position "Smile winners!". Taking the medals for NB junior crews up to four and the club total to eight.
Thank you so much to all the club members who welcomed us back to shore with cheering and hugging, even though we were sweaty and in a bit of a daze. However, a special thank you ought to go to Dave and Laura who organised and encouraged junior rowing in the months leading up to the Worlds (and to every club member who filled a seat on a Thursday night when we were short!) I'm sure I speak for all the junior members who raced at Stangford Lough when I say we couldn't have done it without you and that we would like to thank everyone for such an amazing week. Thank you.
Conditions for the concluding day’s rowing were almost perfect. The sun shone brightly and the crosswind that favoured the nearside crews on Friday had dropped to a light breeze. North Berwick were to contest five of the six finals and the vocal support for all clubs along the loch side appeared to be raised a notch as it was known that up to four clubs could still win the overall championship with good results on the day.
We had no crew entered for Men u19 however NB colours were proudly worn in the Coigach boat that finished a credible 8th. Next up was the girl’s U19 race and our juniors claimed another gold medal with a fine win over local club Dundrum.
The Mix 40+ was an eagerly anticipated race and North Berwick battled with Eastern along the whole course. Our neighbours from Portobello just pipping us on the line with less than a second separating the crews. Many thought that it could not be closer but the next race was even more thrilling. Again North Berwick faced Eastern in the top Men’s Open event and again the battle lasted the whole 2000m with a similar outcome. Another silver medal for NB and a gap of 0.2 seconds to Eastern who took the gold medal in a photo finish with the final stroke of the race.
Our Ladies Open crew raced well to finish 5th in their final that was won by St Ayles and our Mixed 50+ crew 9th in their final following their heat earlier in the day.
The stars of the day were again our juniors who should all be congratulated for their hard work along with their coaches and coxes.
When all the points were added up we celebrated our 3rd place – a fantastic club effort. Overall winners were Dundrum (195) and 2nd Eastern (194). Our 193 points was a tremendous achievement and 3rd place from an entry of 41 clubs is something that everyone at North Berwick Rowing Club can be extremely proud of.
- Published on 01 August 2016
What an incredible week for the North Berwick Junior crews at the Skiff World Championships last week on Strangford Lough. Many of our youngsters had only taken up rowing this year, we started teaching them to row back in March, but they had never raced so we had no idea what to expect at the Worlds. Not in our wildest optimism could we have foreseen the results that were achieved.
The first race was the U19 mixed, our rowers had all been training, but never as a crew, we had to qualify for the final by getting into the first 5 in our heat, we were happy to get through to the final by getting 4th in our heat.
Next up was the U17 boys, we only had three boys so borrowed Frank from Crail to make up a crew. It was a straight final with 8 boats racing over 1K - we were delighted to get a bronze medal.
Boys U17 Bronze (Frank from Crail, Cameron Miles, David Davidson(Cox), Gregor Davidson. Connor Porteous
Then it was the mixed U19 final with 10 boats in the final, Gregor’s third race of the day.Having qualified 4th in our final we were just happy to be in the race, but once it started no other crew was pulling away from us. With Heather setting the stroke she kept a long stroke and from the coxes seat I could see that other crews were losing their form, and there could be a medal for us. With Isla and Cameron behind Heather providing the power and Gregor keeping the boat balanced from the bow, we started to pull into the lead, and crossed the line 6 secs ahead of second place, unbelievable and first gold for North Berwick.
Mixed U19 Gold (Heather Wightman, Isla Wightman, David Davidson (cox), Cameron Miles, Gregor Davidson
Thursday brought another untested combination with Heather, Connor, Saskia Drijver-Headley-and Gregor going into a straight final of 9 boats for the U17 mixed. This time we knew we were in a dogfight (with Dundrum, a local club who went on to be overall winners) and pushed desperately for a second win only to be pipped by one second, so now we had 1 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze, and the squad was buoyant.
Mixed U17 Silver (Saskia Drijver Headley, Heather Wightman, David Davidson (cox) Connor Porteous, Gregor Davidson)
On Friday the woman’s U17 was a straight final, with Heather going for her third medal, on paper this was our strongest crew with two 16 year olds, a 13 and a 14 year old we were closer to the age limit than any other crew we entered. We set off well and dropped a number of the other boats, but from the coxes seat I knew we were in a battle with Portsoy on our port side, with only 250m to go we were down, in second place behind Portsoy, but we’d just had a silver and wanted more gold. Heather increased the stroke rate for the last 250m, Saskia L in three, Saskia D-H in two and Kirsty in the bow went with her, everybody maintaining the long stroke that can so easily shorten when the rate increases. We crept up alongside Portsoy and with 15 strokes left we nudged ahead to finish 1 second ahead of Portsoy and get our second gold, brilliant!
Girl's U17 Gold (Saskia Loudon, Kirsty Cram Mitchell, Heather Wightman, Saskia Drijver Headley)
The last junior race that NBRC entered was the U19 girls on Saturday, Saskia D-H had headed home with her two medals, and Isla Wightman stepped in to row with her sister, Heather (going for her 4th medal), and with Saskia L and Kirsty. Now, expectations had been reset - the girls liked medals and confidently chased after another one. It was a straight final between 7 clubs. North Berwick were strong, and never let go an early lead finishing 30s clear of second place, a third gold for the NBRC juniors.
Girl's U19 Gold (Heather Wightman, Isla Wightman, Claire Wallace (cox), Saskia Loudon, Kirsty Cram Mitchell)
Apart from the races that we entered, a number of our juniors were invited into other crews who were short handed. Part of the experience of an event like this is to make friends in other clubs, and find out what it’s like to row in a different boat.
If we hadn’t won any medals, we’d still have enjoyed it, as most of the juniors had never raced before, the camaraderie, competition and atmosphere alone would have made it a memorable experience. But it doesn’t half feel better to go home with a clutch of medals.