Monster the Loch race Saturday 28th September

The Coigach Lass completed the Monster the Loch race in one of Scotland’s most iconic locations.  The  22 miles along Loch Ness from Fort Augustus to Dores is a significant challenge and further than any of us had rowed before, and in the deepest water too (227m).

Around 60 boats lined up for the start made up of all manner of human powered boats: pedalos, paddle boards, fixed seat rowing boats and sliding seat boats.  There were 12 St Ayles skiffs from Strathpeffer, Catterline, Portsoy, Shieldaig, Collieston, Carrick, Golspie, Firth of Clyde, Burghead and Queensferry for us to race.  Oh, and of course Nessie too.

It was a mass start so no handicapping.  Lining up alongside an eight crew from the GB national squad is an experience you don’t get every day.  We didn’t see much of them after the start, more on that later….

It was difficult to know what pace to set so we started at a conservative rate which left us a bit behind but we were playing a long game.  Once we worked out our race pace we started reeling in the skiffs ahead of us finally passing the mighty Golspie crew just past halfway.

Then we set our sights on the other competition.  We realised we were competing with pilot gigs – these are mostly based in SW England.  They are longer than the skiffs we race and with 6 oars against our 4.  They are notionally faster than a skiff but much heavier and it seems that the length of this race levels the playing field somewhat. 

We eventually got past a couple of gigs and for the last 5 miles we were involved in an epic tussle with the leading gig Jon Bon from Dorset.  Each boat in turn gained an advantage only to have it reeled back in.  In the final mile the Lass took a decisive lead and held on to the end.  We were the first skiff and the first wooden boat to finish.  Coigach Lass recorded a time of 3hrs 27mins.

The GB crew smashed the previous record by over 20mins in recording a breathtaking time of 2hrs 4mins. 57secs.

Our crew of Tom Grant, Reuben Brown, Matt Zietz, Nick Clooney with the heroic Kathleen Steventon coxing were fuelled mainly by Kathleen’s robust banana flapjack which will live long in my teeth memory.

A great event rounded off with hospitality at the Dores Inn and great craic on the beach with the other crews – a must-do event for every discerning skiffer. 


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