Report by Rhona McLaren (St Ayles RC).
On a typical day in Fife, sun shining and blue skies, over forty rowers fae six Fife clubs, St Ayles RC (Anster), Kinghorn, Pittenweem, Crail, St Andrews, North Queensferry met at the Meedies (Lochore Meadows Countryside Park) for a wee row. The Social Gathering, held on the 25th of March, was arranged by St Ayles RC in response to a desire to have a fun, relaxing rowing get together before the regatta season got underway.
Loch Ore is a freshwater Loch located in inland Fife, just 14 miles north of the Forth Road Bridge. The area has been inhabited for at least 4000 years, and in more recent times (1873-1966) it was a very active coal mining area with seven pits nearby. Remnants of the coal industry are clear to see on the landscape and the Loch itself is largely the result of land subsidence – the original Loch having been drained in the 1790s by the landowner in an unsuccessful attempt to make the Loch-then-bog profitable!
Today The Meedies is a much loved parkland with trails, watersports, playpark, and café on site. The park is run by Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, who kindly allowed us to use their slipways, facilities, and buoys, for a nominal fee.
The Social Gathering program was a assortment of mixed crew rowing trying out different skiffs, exploring the Loch and it’s islands; coxes testing themselves and their crew on a slalom course line set-up with buoys just off the beach; and chatting away with each other on the beach. Andrew Rendle (SCRA and St Andrews RC Secretary), did a fine job helping skiffs on and off the sandy beach, and everyone got a few rows learning from each other.
After a very lazy lunchtime picnic a pursuit (chase) race was set up, again mixing up rowers into different skiffs. Each skiff set off 20 seconds apart and had to row round one of the islands, through the slalom buoys, and land back on the beach – easy – except there was a twist..
To make things a bit trickier and amusing, the race started with one member of the crew up on the grass with the Race Starter and all-round good egg, Colin. The runner had to dash to their skiff with a creme egg, before the skiff could race away. Upon return, a crew member then ran back up to Colin with the egg, had to unwrap it, eat and swallow it, before the timer stopped! It was a close race, with winners in skiff Coull D eggding it by a second!
The chase – Results:
Caption: The Chase Winners: (L to R) Jen (St Andrews), Louise (Queensferry), Pam (Pittenweem), Shona – cox (St Ayles RC), Rhona (St Ayles RC)
After the Chase, everyone pitched in to row the skiffs back to the slipways and help pack them up, before departing beautiful Lochore Meadows. The day was hugely enjoyable and a great start to the 2017 rowing season. On behalf of St Ayles RC, we look forward to meeting with oor fellow Fifers and other clubs on the regatta circuit.