Double rowing success for Arran skiffs

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As the busy regatta season reaches its conclusion, Arran Coastal Rowing Club (ACRC) were really looking forward to two rowing events that they hadn’t attended in previous years and whose format was quite different to anything they had done before.

Saturday September 8 saw them taking part in the Exciseman’s Chase, a race of approximately eight kilometres out of Maidens harbour. Eight Clyde clubs battled valiantly through choppy seas at the scenic foot of Culzean Castle, changed crews at Gas House Bay, picked up a miniature bottle of whisky, which they then had to get back to Maidens without being ‘caught’.

The staggered start meant that the skiffs were both chasing and being chased, which made for an extremely exciting atmosphere on the waves. On both legs of the race, ACRC powered forward with great determination, overtaking one boat after the other to come in in a time of 1 hour and 9 minutes, three minutes ahead of the nearest rival, to win the
handsome barrel trophy and, of course, a full sized bottle of the amber nectar.

After a week to recover their strength, last Saturday nine Arran rowers took both of their skiffs (Seabhag and Iolair) to the Castle to Crane race at the Clydebuilt Festival, a 13 mile (21km) row along the Clyde from Dumbarton to the Finnieston Crane in the heart of Glasgow city.

With the ferry problems last week, it was touch and go if they could get there at all but the arrival of the MV Hebridean Isles meant that passage for the trailer and both 22ft wooden boats was assured.

The race was open to any fixed seat, coxed rowing boats of at least four oars and 75 in total took part, including not only St Ayles Skiffs but also such boats as Cornish and Pilot Gigs and Shetland Yoles, making for a magnificent spectacle at the foot of Dumbarton
Castle on the Saturday morning.

As – in contrast to other clubs – ACRC hadn’t trained specifically for such a long row they decided to just enjoy the occasion and interesting scenery along the Clyde. The Iolair crew had a fairly leisurely row with regular crew changes and an interesting sightseeing commentary from Caroline. Starting in the category Open Mixed, they finished in a very respectable 2 hours 24 minutes and 50 seconds.

Seabhag started in the 50+ Mixed category and decided to go as fast as was enjoyable. The result was therefore a big surprise to everybody – with an impressive time of 2 hours 4 minutes and 15 seconds they had the 13th fastest time of all 60 participating St Ayles Skiffs, were the 7th fastest skiff in the category 50+ and the 2nd fastest skiff in the category Mixed 50+. And that with no crew change and a heavier than usual cox. One wonders what would have happened if they had tried to win!

Congratulations to all rowers on this big success. The hard, continuous training has been paying off and this is another remarkable milestone in a very successful regatta season. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed ACRC’s first appearance at this event, which most certainly won’t be the last.

The regatta season closes on Saturday September 29 at Prestwick. ACRC has won this event two years in a row and are going for the hat-trick this year. Both Arran skiffs and many local rowers will be taking part in what bodes to be a very exciting finale.

                                                                                                                  Stuart Turner

The Arran crews who took part in the Castle to Crane event. NO_B38rowing01

Castle to Crane crews waiting for the start in Dumbarton. NO_B38rowing02

Arran in the lead in the Exciseman’s Chase. NO_B38rowing03

The winning Arran Exciseman’s Chase team with the trophy. NO_B38rowing04