Five Scottish Coastal Rowing Clubs took up an invitation from the Dalriada Festival to enjoy an international fixture at Glenarm in Antrim, Northern Ireland. The Kingdom of Dalriada united parts of Northern Ireland and Western Scotland and the aim of the festival is to revive that link. In the week leading up to the regatta there was Scots and Irish music, an international shinty/ hurling match and a combined Highland/ Celtic games.
The local clubs attending were from the Antrim Coastal Rowing Association and comprised Glenarm, Cairndhu, Carnlough, and Foyle. St Ayles Rowing Club from Anstruther, RowPorty from the city of Edinburgh, Boatie Blest from Cockenzie and Port Seton, Royal West from Greenock and North Berwick made up the Scottish Contingent. Very sadly Carrick Coastal Rowing Club withdrew because they had suffered a bereavement shortly before the event. Those attending send the club and family their condolences.
The Antrim clubs were racing 25 feet Universal Boats, an Irish class with low sleek lines. a long waterline and carbon fibre oars, which were considerably faster than the St Ayles skiffs. Realistically therefore the two classes, although starting at the same time, were racing against their own class! Dalriada had separate prizes for the two classes, and we are pleased to be able to say that every Scottish Club came home with some medals.
The first race was a 7km time trial round Glenarm Bay and the Black Rock. Crews were set off at 1 minute intervals. North Berwick, Royal West and Boatie Blest boats had mixed crews, with North Berwick winning the gold for the fastest time. Portobello rowed over as a mens crew, and the Anstruther boat was crewed by their determined ladies.
In the afternoon the crews were treated to sprint races. The course had 12 lanes, each with their own turning buoy, as well a starting buoy with a handle for the cox to hold onto until the gun. The 12 start buoys are all on risers coming from a single leaded rope. Similarly the turning buoys, in 12 separate colours, are also on risers from a single leaded rope. The two ropes are laid parallel, 400m apart to give a tight 800m race course. A great system which Scottish Clubs may wish to consider adopting.
The sprint racing was close, very close. It was also quite difficult to call, except at the turn and the finish. Finish line technology was in use, with every finish filmed to make sure the finish was called correctly. For the skiffs Portobello won the ladies race, before North Berwick brought home line honours in the Mens race (with James from Glenarm, who had taken up rowing three weeks before, doing a sterling job in the bow seat). In the mixed race North Berwick, Portobello and Boatie Blest all finished within a boat length, with the RowPorty crew just pipping the others to the line. RowPorty were also represented by an under 18 Crew in the Junior sprint.
The social side will stay on tour, but suffice to say everyone had a great time. The rowers took part in a parade through the town, with some wearing sweaty rowing kit, and others wearing fancy dress.
All photos from the Dalriada Festival Facebook page, with thanks. We were all very grateful to our hosts for putting on a great event and being so welcoming.