Boatie Blest travelled to stranraer on the 6th of July for a week full of excitement. All 3 boats were packed to their gunwales and left the shed in convoy with the 4th smaller supply ship (The Bathtub) precariously balanced in the top of Boatie Blest, with imminent failure looming. With multiple marquees and enough tools to build a fleet of boats and fix every eventuality which might occur (that will be continued later) the skiffs and the toys set off in convoy for Stranraer.
The drive down was uneventful, a rare thing for a boatie excursion. The three houses we had rented for the week were brilliant in their own unique ways, the campsite was well laid out with the tents around the main marquee, with the Dutch near-by and their hot tubs it was looking like party central. The stage was set around Stranraer beach with huge marquees covering the waterfront park, the clubs all with an allocated place marked on the sand, a stage for the prize giving, the marquee for the cox briefs and the lonely umpires balanced on some scaffolding miles away from anyone else as usual. A typical regatta setting was taking shape.
Day 0 – The first non-racing day and the opening ceremony. We started the day by unloading the boats and setting up our home from home marquee on the beach. This turned out to be a daily routine of shifting boat kit in and out, along with hanging up all the jackets and any items which required drying out from the day before. Carmel did the usual boatie organising of the boats by throwing names into the non existent hat to select crews for the opening flotilla. We were joined by our American friends on the water in Boatie Rows. Our own two boats (plus Boatie Rows) followed the lead boats of Stranraer and the Chris o’ Kinnaird round into the beach with the national flags waving and the pipe band playing.
Day 1 – The races began with 3 categories, which we had entered: 60+ ladies, under 40s men and under 40s Ladies. The 60s ladies, crewed by Margaret, Linda, Anne and Debs (USA) and coxed by Gareth, started off our days racing by making it through to the final then coming 9th in a competitive feild. Our 40s ladies: Lynsey, Eleanor, Louise, Bex with Stuart coxing made it safely through to the final as well, coming in 11th overall. The under40s mens team, crewed by a composite of Lewis, Stuart, Ewen H and Andrew (USA) and Gareth coxing made it comfortably through their heat as well and then made a good show in the final also finishing 11th. They may not have won the race, but the crew agreed that they were the highest educated of any boat on the water, with no less than 9 degrees between the crew members. Always finding a positive!
Day 2 – The sun was again bursting through the sky with light winds so fast times were to be expected again. The over 40s men and ladies both sailed through the heats with relative ease to book a place in the afternoon finals. The 50+ mixed crew kicked off in the afternoon with a strong time of 12:08 but with a strong set of crews in the heat were given a place in the repechage. The mixed 50+ of Alistair, Judith, Alec, Carmel and Jon did a valiant effort, just missing out on a place in the final having beaten their own time by a massive 15 seconds. The 40+ mens final was in the afternoon with 8 boats posting a time of under 11 minutes. Our own Boatie crew of Dave, Ross, Grant, Gareth and Stuart being one of them. The final became a 2 boat race for gold with the next boats all battling for the bronze medal. We didn’t quite get the medal but we were close in a competitive field. The 40+ ladies final at the end of the day was always going to be a hot race with so many fast crews competing. Broughty Ferry flew out the blocks and maintained their lead to the buoy but Boatie brought it back round the turn but were unable to match the Fife team for straight line pace. They finished second, narrowly holding off their East Lothian rivals North Berwick by half a second. Helen Wylie, Eleni, Lucy, Cate with Stuart coxing managing to hold their nerves to the line as the Boatie crowd went wild on-shore.
Day 3 – The weather was ideal again for racing, but with a dampness in the air the crews set off changing over boats and adjusting footrests as they rapidly ran out from the shelter of the marquee, into the boat to warm up and race. The first of the days races saw Dave, Ross, Eleni, Helen Wy and Stuart enter the mixed 40+ heats. There was a bit of uncertainty about the crew, given that they had only sat in the boat together 3 times and none of those 3 times had worked particularly well! A draw in the 4th heat with the potential for a recharge before the final the following day meant it was nice to get through the heat in the first 3 places and to book ourselves a spot in the final the following day. The over 60s mixed had a tough ask with a quick swap round between the 40+ mixed coming in and them going out. Andrew, George, Linda, Margaret and Nicola set out to show that age is no limit. We believe that George, at 88, was the oldest competitor and the crew narrowly missed a place in the final by 3 seconds. The last 2 races of the day were the “Haddy daddies”, a newer group of rowers to the club. Simon, Ewen, Ewen and Paul, coxed by Gareth set out into the unknown. The only thing that was known was that the category they entered was the fastest of the week. Setting a solid time of 11:08 seconds in any other category would be enough to go to the final, sadly this meant the repecharge in the afternoon for the boys to do it all over again, having finished 5th in a heat that involved 3 clubs doing a time of under 11 minutes. The repechage race saw another good performance by the newly formed group, finishing 2nd and earning a place in the final setting a time just 2 seconds slower than their heat earlier in the day.
Day 4 – The day that everyone on the beach was dreading! A long day, with lots of crew changes and categories. The races started off with the mens 50+, where the crew came a solid second behind Sketrick in a time under 11 minutes. Gareth, Grant, Ross, Andrew and Stuart booked safely into the race the following day despite a broken pin to contend with on route. Ross was able to have a well earned breather before his final at Lunch time! The 50+ ladies headed out for their heat with a little wind to contend with at this point. The start line was interesting with the boat in the lane next to us leaving the line and colliding immediately with Boatie. Credit to Linda, Eilish, Helen Wa, Nicola and Stuart for getting away from the start at all. It didn’t look good as 100m into the race we were in 10th position, so the target was to catch up to 6th and get a spot in the repechage. Having completed that task with some aid from a swift turn the Boatie crew chased down the top 3 but narrowly missed out, ending up in 4th place. All was not lost though as the umpires deciding, after the race, to promote the Boatie crew to the final having reviewed the incident. The mixed 40+ race was next, with the previous race out of the mind, Stuart led the 40+ mixed team of Ross, Dave, Eleni and Helen out for the final. The race was tight! The front 4 boats all flew off the line, Boatie got a bit of an advantage from the turn but could they hold on? The 4 boats crossed the line with 1 second between them. Boatie had won by 0.5 of a second to North Berwick, with Eastern and the Dutch team Groot and Grut following in joint 3rd after a very long delay while the Umpires checked the video footage. The longest day continued with the open women’s heat, where Eleni, Helen Wy, Cate and Stuart from the 40s were joined by Bex for the open. The race was fairly straightforward, with the ladies opening out a gap before the turn and holding it through till the end with a comfortable gap of 10 seconds from the 2 Irish boats, who were safely through to the final the following day. Last chance of the day to get really excited. The newly formed group “Haddy Daddies” were in action in the evening racing in the final of the Mens open. The top 4 boats broke the 10:30 mark. North Berwick taking the credit in the win, the Haddy Daddy target of sub-11 minutes was just narrowly missed in a time of 11:03, however they beat Ullapool who had beaten them in the repechage so there is always a plus side! With just over 10 seconds between our two mens crews its going to be an interesting 6 months to see if the gap is brought down! The day was just a little longer than even the scheduled planned. With the 50+ mens and Ladies crews finals moved due to the forecast for high winds the following day. The 50+ ladies headed out and posted a very fast time of 11:34, narrowly missing a 4th place by less than 0.7 of a second and a medal by just 3.5 seconds, Crail the only Scottish Ladies to beat them. The 50+ men had a similar result coming in 4th place behind two Irish crews and a Dutch crew. The Boatie Crew marking the top of the then Scottish dominated field with Eastern, Coigach, Golspie, North Berwick and St Ayles all following behind. The long day continued with a quick turn around in the evening and back to Cottfeild house for a BBQ with Boatie and the American clubs invited. A limited edition print by club member and local artist Helen Wyllie was given to the American clubs with a 4th copy kept and signed by their crew to keep in Scotland. Stuart also presented a framed picture of all the clubs attending Skiffieworlds to Bex for helping so many of our crew members over the last few months with their injuries.
Day 5 – The day started slowly for Boatie with just the Mixed Open A heat in the morning, safely through for Gareth, Grant, Cate, Bex and Stuart hoping for a medal the next day to round the week off. With the finals for the 50s mens and ladies moved to the day before it was all quiet ’till the afternoon … The afternoon saw the Womens Open race. A big category in the rowing with almost all the clubs entered. The times for the heats were unpredictable given the changing weather the day before so it was anyones guess as to who was favorite. The ladies went out buoyed with confidence from the previous medals in the days before. It was time to get Bex one! Stuart had the plan, the girls had the power and the determination. After 500m it was looking okay, just where we wanted to be “in the mix” and at the turn we made our move, whipped round the buoy in Boatie Style and then gone. A small lead for us with 800mm left to row downwind. The girls stretched out the backs and took it home, much to the delight of the Boatie fan club on the shore watching at the line and on the big screen drone footage. The time was “slow” given the 18mph winds on the course but the top three handled the conditions best and earned their medals. Sketrick and Anstruther following in behind, both from our heat the day before. That night saw another great sporting occasion. Scotland Vs “the Dutch” at football. After 10 minutes Scotland were 3-0 down, a quick change of tactics and some additional bodies on the field and Scotland triumphed. Perhaps the dodgy pitch and lumping it forward is what we are good at. Both sides took the game with good spirit and we will look forward to the re-match since we are now the champions for 3 years!
Day 6 – Last day and the mixed Open B heats, final and the Open Mixed A final. The Open B mixed crew headed out first to fight for a place in the final. With local Scottish boats Broughty Ferry, Avoch and Anstruther taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the heat it was into the repechage for Boatie despite a very strong performance in very tricky conditions. The crew of Dave T, Anita, Shelley, Marc (the ‘lightweight crew’) and Gareth picked themselves up, dried out a bit from the sea, which had been crashing over the boat and got out again into the repechage. Coming second in that race they earned their place in the final for the afternoon. There were 2 finals in the afternoon: the Mixed Open A and the Mixed Open B and Boatie was in both. The mixed B was timetabled first but ran second due to the conditions. The crew coming a solid 14th in the fast final. With almost 60 clubs entered and having to compete in a heat and repechage 14th was a good result! The light boat and crew were hampered by the winds on the outward leg but recovered time on the return leg as they surfed for the line. The Open Mixed A final came next. The girls, buoyed by success earlier in the week, were now pulling hard for the boys. The crew were somewhat disappointed to be 6th place in the final having rowed well but were pleased by the weeks success as a whole. It was a great week of racing and socializing, with the Americans using our boat becoming part of Boatie for the week and sharing in the triumphs. Needless to say there was a “small” party on the Saturday night where there was a “little” drink taken and “some” dancing tried. Boatie got a total of 415 points and 209 that contributed to the points total from the best 6 places giving us an 8th place finish out of 55 clubs.
You might be forgiven for thinking that all the races are included above! However there were Boatie crews entered in lots of other races to help our American friends as they had helped us and also to help other clubs fill their own boats. This is one of the reasons that we enjoy coastal rowing, it is serious racing but the ability to loan people and make up crews to get as many boats on the water is always so important. Crews in other boats included: Opens men, Bruce, Dave T and 2 from America, an Open Ladies crew of, Sheena, Helen and 2 from America, Open Mixed A, Dave, John, Sheena, Helen H, helping America. And of course Jo, Trish, Sheena, Anne and Bruce in the “FFS” boat. Possibly the most enjoyed race of the week, with so many “Boatie antics” in the one place at the same time. Trish was also in the Cumbrae boat for the 50+ ladies race, in heat 4 completing the course in 21.44. In that one race she has rowed almost twice as much as most of the rest of crews all week, so congratulations Trish! There was also a crew in the Catterline skiff for the 50+ race who “enjoyed” the free movements of the kabe and rope system and came 9th place in the heat. We should also mention how well the Americans did in helping out in some of our own races, with several of them rowing for Boatie. Louise, our very own star commentator could hardly be found as she was almost always tucked away in the corner of the umpire tent talking to the people on the PA for hours on end. Archie, Jane, Alison, Jon G, Tom and others all came along to support the club in any way they could including taking the boats out for warm ups, baking, shouting and generally running around gathering stuff and carrying things to and from where they needed to be. The children of Boatie Blest made for a fun filled week, with almost all of them having new “Aunties” Lynsey probably the winner of that title.
And the enormous tool kit was required in the end… Usually our trailers have 2 wheels for good reason and it appears that they don’t move too well with one. A wheel decided that it didn’t like the road anymore and opted to leave to find a nearby bush on the route home on Saturday night! Dave carried on back home and arrived at 0330 awhile international rescue picked up the wayward boat the following day, having repaired the trailer in a nursing home car park! With a bit of jiggling around the convoy was back en-route and the boats were all back home safely by Sunday evening.
Boatie Blest would like to thank everyone involved for helping make Skiffie Worlds 2019 happen for us. Was all of the training in the early mornings or late evenings regardless of the weather worth it? Of course it was!