“The most important rule of this regatta is that anyone who takes it too seriously will be disqualified!” The final piece of advice at the cox’s briefing before the start of the inaugural Tighnabruaich Coastal Rowing Regatta set the tone for two days of fun, friendly but undeniably hard racing on the beautiful Kyles of Bute in the area of Argyll known as the Secret Coast.
The event took place over the weekend of May 24-25 in what proved to be changeable, occasionally blustery but generally fair conditions with eight teams participating in four events, comprising one endurance and three sprint races, two of which involved heats. In addition to the hosts, Kyles Coastal Rowing Club, the seven teams that made the trip to the Cowal Peninsula, two hours west of Glasgow, were: Anstruther, Boatie Blest (Cockenzie & Port Seton), Mid Argyll, Troon, Carrick, Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club (Fairlie) ; and Royal West (Greenock).
The main setting for the action was the beach in front of the Kames Hotel in Tighnabruaich’s neighbouring village of Kames. It proved to be an excellent location with the Hotel, in addition to its usual bar facilities, providing a barbecue overlooking the beach and offering a great vantage point for the decent crowd of spectators who had assembled to watch the racing.
Saturday’s Sprint racing took place over a mile-long, out-and-back course that started on the beach, taking the rowers across the west Kyle towards the Isle of Bute and back to round a final buoy before a final 100m sprint to the finishing line in front of the beach.
There were two mixed (0 –4 women and 2 – 4 women) and one all-women’s sprint races and between them, Anstruther and Cockenzie & Port Seton wrapped up all of the sprint wins, with the latter setting the fastest time of the day; 12min 35sec.
Following a presentation ceremony and raffle the evening saw many of the crews reassemble in a packed to the gunwales Kames Hotel where rowers mixed with the Kyles Athletic shinty crowd while local band the Groucho Sessions provided music.
The following day four crews, Kyles, Anstruther, Port Seton and Carrick, competed for the Caladh Cup trophy. This was a three mile endurance race that also involved three miles of rowing to get to the start line located in the beautiful Caladh Harbour opposite the north end of Bute.
Having rowed against wind and tide to get to the start location, with those elements in their favour the race home was an altogether quicker affair. The winning crew, Cockenzie & Port Seton took about half an hour to complete the course while the second and third crews, Anstruther and Kyles respectively, were just a few boat lengths behind.
At the end of the event there was general agreement amongst the competing clubs that if the aim of the regatta had been to provide a fun and friendly event then the whole occasion had been a great success.
As for the organisers, Kyles Coastal Rowing Club’s Ken Coley said: “We’ve had loads of positive feedback and some friendly advice about how we could improve the regatta in years to come. We’ll be taking that advice on board and next year we hope to welcome all of this year’s crews and a few new ones to what we intend to make an annual event.”
Sprint Races, Saturday, May 24
Mixed open 1 (0 – 4 men):
1st Cockenzie & Port Seton
2nd Anstruther A
Mixed open 2 (0 – 2 men):
1st Anstruther B
2nd Cockenzie & Port Seton B
1st Anstruther A
2nd Cockenzie & Port Seton
Endurance Race (3 miles), Sunday May 25
1st Cockenzie & Port Seton
Photos: Thomas Cornulier (boats on water) and Troon Facebook page (dry land), with thanks.