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What started off as an enjoyable group paddle around Holy Isle and which later evolved into a race has proven to be so popular that the event has now become a regular fixture on the Arran Kayak Club calendar.
Known as the Kayak Club Holy Isle Challenge, the event was this year opened up to all but owing to the weather and a safety boat problem it had to be restricted to those with proven experience of being competent enough to paddle it alone.
Qualifying for the event, four paddlers competed with Andy MacNamara, Andrew Rigby and Luke Furze setting off early and Fiona Clarke starting later in the day.
The forecast was for north west winds, set to drop later and possible showers and the reality was an amazingly bright day with some challenging squalls and wintery showers. The kayakers described it as ‘The best of Scottish maritime weather.’
The start and finish line was designated as the Lamlash pier and the four paddlers entered the race in a variety of craft, Luke in a surf ski, Andy and Andrew in performance sea kayaks and Fiona in a touring sea kayak.
From the start the surf ski pulled ahead and the real battle was between the two fiercely competitive rivals Andy and Andrew in the performance class. The first leg from the pier to the northern tip of Holy Isle had a stern quartering wind with some small waves allowing for no tactics, just strenuous paddling.
Going down around the back of the island saw Luke heading offshore a hundred meters to try and find better waves. The others taking a tighter line, but there appeared to be no advantage for either route. The hard work and tactical decisions started as the group rounding the southern tip of Holy Isle and passing Wee Donald -the lighthouse – they were all confronted with a 6km battle into a headwind of force four winds, gusting to five.
Luke took a line up the centre to the pier, Andy went right and followed the inside of the island until crossing to the finish and Andrew headed left over to Kings Cross, battling the tide, to follow the shore back before crossing in front of Cordon to get home. Fiona paddling around slightly later chose a route straight from the light house to the pier. It was hard call to make which was a faster route.
The results ended with Luke coming in first overall in a time of 1:15:23 and setting the new course record. Next in was Andrew who came first in the performance class with a time of 1:23:18, closely followed by Andy, also in the performance class, with a time of 1:24:50. Fiona holds the title of first in the touring class and fastest female with a time of 1:40:00.
A spokesman for the club said: ‘We hope to run a few more winter series challenges for members soon, along with a river trip and some social events. The Arran Kayak Club is also running pool sessions through the winter for all levels of ability and we have some spaces left, if you would like to join us on the water or find out more about kayaking on Arran then further information can be found on their Facebook page or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.’
Fiona Clarke returns to shore after kayaking around Holy Isle. No_B45kayak01
Luke Furze raises his oar triumphantly after making it to the finish line in first position. No_B45kayak02
The three kayakers prepare to set off on the Kayak Club Holy Isle Challenge. No_B45kayak03
Luke Furze makes his way around Holy Isle in relatively calm waters. No_B45kayak04