The gods of weather, tea and cake chose to Boatie bless us once again over the weekend of 26th – 27th April. The 5th Boatie Blest Regatta was months in the planning and days in the baking. Old friends and their boats traveled from North Berwick, Porty, Dunbar, South Queensferry and Anstruther to join us on Saturday together with new friends and their boat Honesty from the Honest Toun of Musselburgh.
First job of the day was for the Logistics Crew to erect the tea tent and marquee. Little more than two hours later, once reconciliations were complete and the Cake Crew in place, the action moved out onto the water for a day of fast paced oar-to-oar-harbour-wall action, kicking off with the annual Port Seton V Cockenzie grudge match friendly race. The new trophy, designed and manufactured by local artist Avesha DeWolfe, was carried off by the Cockenzie Crew this year making it 2-2 overall. Never mind, there’s always next year.
Every team and crew put in a great show on the Port Seton Pursuit Course throughout the day of heats, semis and finals, with Carmel’s bottle-top medals being won by crews from Anst’er, North Berwick and Boatie Blest. Sunday saw the traditional later than expected start and a generally more relaxed programme. No sign of North Berwick’s Fresher or Novice crew relaxing though as they took first in both categories. Their Junior team also took the medals, fighting off competition from Porty and Boatie Blest.
Sunday afternoon’s events took a turn towards the more unusual, easing in with the only slightly bonkers Port Seton to Cockenzie to Port Seton running/rowing relay. After some controversy over the use of bicycles the running and rowing teams from North Berwick made it back to the beach first.
We were a little surprised to find that three clubs had prepared routines for the inaugural St Ayles Skiff Bossage competition. With a panel of experienced judges, including a proper Dressage Judge, artist Avesha, Ali Porty and a large garden-gnome, the competition was fierce, kicking off with South Queensferry’s bonnie boat and their well coordinated oarspersonship. The Anst’er St Ayles team wowed the assembled crowd with their highland dance themed routine while the Boatie Blest men took to sculling for their performance, which included the never-before attempted, death defying Cornetto Venetian maneuver, in anticipation of the Voga Longa in June. The judges marks were close but St Ayles won the rosette for their fine artistic interpretation and natty (Natalie?) tartan kit.
If that wasn’t all exciting enough the day rounded off with another first – the Thorntree Slalem. Crews took it in turns to compete against the clock over a course of closely spaced buoys. This time it was Porty who turned in the fastest time, proving that they can bob and weave like no other.
A special thank you goes to Stu, who organised the event and to Carmel and Robin ‘The Megaphone’ Abbey, for holding things together. And of course to all the Boatie Bakers who went a long way towards raising over £1,200 over the weekend.
What, not content with just one regatta? Well, two weeks later it was time to travel over the Firth for the return match in North Cockenzie (Anstruther). This is the first time the club has been able to take part at Anst’er since that memorable day in 2010 when six newly completed skiffs competed for the very first time.
Once again St Ayles Rowing club were great hosts, even allowing us to make use of skiff 00, Chris O’ Kanaird, four stout oars and even some local talent to help with the odd victory over their own crews. Saturday’s racing was pretty full-on with, initially at least, some challenging conditions and a first for the Boatie Over 40s Ladies, while Sunday saw things slowing down a little. There were categories for Decades crews and an inter-club race, followed by a very social row for ice cream and a browse in Annie’s shop in Pittenweem. Of course the day had to end with a visit to St Ayles’ sponsors for a fish supper. Full details of the regattas and results can be found on the SCRA website.