Ullapool,One week in July 2013

Hard to believe, but the week, that has dominated the world of us Skiffies’ for as far back as we can seem to remember, has come and gone……..whether life will ever be the same again, who knows. The sun beamed down on us, the water sparkled and for some teams gods and Goddesses were created. What am I on about, oh aye, the World Skiff Rowing championships in Ullapool. What a week, one Boatie team mate could only manage the words ‘I am blown away’ on our post event flurry of e mails. I think that pretty much summed up the Fest that was Ullapool for a lot of us.

Princesses talking about cake’s (how did she know?), a boat with a twangy whale harp, a Dutch team who travelled with two three seater settees, beach BBQ’s, old friends and new, bonds forged within, and between clubs, Winning clubs who cracked on they ‘hadnae practiced at all’, and silver medalists who really had just stepped into a boat together. The beach was a mass of coloured ant colonies, from which every so often 5 or so would break away, jump into a boat and row off somewhere ‘out there’ as if their life depended on it. When a head ant with special binnocular eyes witnessed a bouy turn the rest of the colony would be called to rush to the water front and give displays of demonic dancing and wild howling to encourage their own ants to bring their boat in first ..… strange, but often it did seem to work.

The week was huge fun and full of warmth from beginning to end. The racing was serious and hotly contested, the races proved to be nail biting and the statistics attest to the tightest of margins between the first boats home in each race…we are all getting better folks! The long hard training over the Winter and Spring months, was evidenced in the stamina shown as team after team dug deep, and slumped hard at the end, knowing that they had rowed as hard as they could, and had done their best.

I hope you will indulge me and let me talk about my own team, The Boatie Blest. We named and launched our new boat, Boatie Lodge; bodging, building, painting and whining about our Heath Robinson footboards to the very last minute. Those who rowed in her did us proud. We were true to our community ideals and everybody in the club who wanted to row, got into a boat and raced at Ullapool, and I am sure in this we were not alone.  One great comment after our team won a bronze medal in the Open Forties B race was ’not bad for two asthmatics, a giant and a (self styled) fat git’. The under 19s won a silver, and we are so proud of them, then two of our gals went on to win another silver in a composite crew with lads from Newburgh, how good is that for our future. The Men in our 40+ team drove the boat on to a nail biting finish, that was almost too hard to call, but the effort was supreme and they and us were ‘really chuffed’ with their bronze medal. Our Womens 40+ team are the first skiff rowing world champions in their class. They dug deep when the power babes from Anstruther looked to be closing in, they dug in and rowed for life, the powerful lungs of the whole club, by this time jumping up and down on the beach’ sang out ‘The Boatie Rows’ the effort almost matching that in the boat, and then it was over, their forms slumped and shaking; ‘you’ve got it’, quietly from Stuart to the four women. We had seen it, the beach screamed and we sang them in….they are our famous five, we are so proud of them.

We came close in the sprints and second on the quiz night, and very far up the partying medal list. We had a lovely group of supporters who followed us from Port Seton, and as always we had the great moral boosting advantage of the fabulous home bakes from Jane Johnston. So, all in all a really brilliant week.

We are very pleased we came to Ullapool; we want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make it possible, and so good; from the SCRA and radiating out. Thank you to the organising team in Ullapool, what a job, from the great organisation over the week to choosing really great ceilidh bands, and especially, to Topher who did so much to set the culture and the ethos which allowed these championships to flourish in such a happy atmosphere.

Thank you from the Boatie Blest Rowing Club.

Martine Robertson.


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