Contact was made recently with French skiff enthusiasts. Below is Catherine’s very enthusiastic account, followed by Rosemary’s excellent photographs:
Fete de l’Aviron Traditionnel Maritime
Back in 2015 our President was approached by a Frenchman building a St Ayles skiff in La Roche Bernard, a town on the Villaine River in South East Brittany. This led to the club members who attended Semaine du Golfe in 2015 being invited to a soiree.
In 2019 members attending Semaine du Golfe were invited to extend their excursion and attend Fete de l’Aviron Traditionnel Maritime en route to Vannes.
Five members and a supporting husband enjoyed a magnificent Breton welcome in the town of La Roche Bernard.
Chris and Carol Sealey accommodated us in great comfort and style at their home on the town square. We dined magnificently with the rowing club committee, multiple courses and wines on Friday evening, a delicious menu created by out hostess
Come Saturday morning we found our hosts on the riverbank, the Breton accordionist already at work serenading our launch onto the river. We rowed in company with the skiff from La Roche Bernard viewing the bridges across the gorge, the yellow irises on the riverbank, the donkeys grazing the hillside. We compared oars and footrests, viewed the art exhibition and chatted to passers-by.
Later we rowed into the town’s old harbour where we picnicked accompanied by Jean Pierre on his banjo and the accordion player with local club members.
Strengthened by more good food and wine we rowed along the gorge. We were greeted by calls from a British registered yacht of “ We saw you at Woodbridge!!!”
Returning to the slipway we recovered the boat and joined the crowd enjoying a poet, garden party, games and a speech from the Mayor in the riverside parkland.
At 6-30 began the Fest Noz…….starting with Bob the mandolin player flown in for the event…..a BBQ for about 150 took place with wave after wave of musicians performing their sets, often accompanied by loud singing. We retired soon after 10.30…we are told that the party continued until 1-30.
After breakfast on Sunday…more fresh croissants and homemade jams we returned to the city and having crept off to bed before the really big party started (what lightweights) we were invited to take dancing lessons and dance to the accordion in Breton style. Ceremonial flags were exchanged. We look forward to further encounters!!!
There was talk of “twinning”- we have some exertions ahead to entertain in their style!
A memorable, magnificent weekend provided by our generous hosts.
The expedition to the Golfe du Morbihan was a great rowing experience for veterans of previous years and for first timers. It was a week of adventure in great company. Places on the itinerary included Ile d’Arz, Arradon, Locmariaquer, Saint-Goustan, Le Logeo, Larmor-Baden, Port Navalo and Plougoumelen. The crews’ leisure and rowing time was expertly organised by Adrian and our Breton hosts welcomed all participants at the staging posts. There was ample opportunity to sample the local food. Evenings were spent swapping the day’s tales in the most entertaining way. The Grand Parade, at the end of the week, was an incredible spectacle. Below are just a few memories of the week with more to follow …
Thanks to all who took part for their company; particularly to Lynn and Adrian for towing and to Stephen T for driving people to the meeting places so efficiently.
Saturday 18th May was a really positive evening for the club with several prospective rowers coming along to the Carnser to try their hands in the two skiffs. Victoria organised the outings so that all newcomers had a good experience. Catherine took names of triallists. Rob, Tom M and Barry H coxed and gave helpful tips. Rob modelled rowing strokes whilst the skiff was on the trailer; a great way for the audience to view technique. Everyone enjoyed the beautiful evening on the water and all new rowers were keen to improve, promising to keep in touch and come again. Many thanks also to Anta, Barrie B, Humphrey, Veronica and Alan M, Diana and Amy H, Sue W, Peter R as well as Richard B for their invaluable support.
Below are some memories of pushing the boat out in style.
Some action shots of the ladies’ crew in action. Thanks to Stephen H for the photographs.
Saturday 11th May saw Crabbers gathering on the South Quay, King’s Lynn,to participate in the Hanse Festival races on the Ouse. The opposition was provided by a range of skiffs and Harker’s Yard Gigs from King’s Lynn and Burnham-on-Crouch. The fun began early with all hands available to negotiate the deep, slippery mud in order to launch “Bluejacket”. This was a tricky exercise, calling for teamwork and humour. No shoes or boots were lost this year.
The ladies’ crew got off to a flying start, surging into an early lead. There were clashes of oars underneath the half-way bridge before the return leg was negotiated against a strong tide. The crew kept immaculate timing throughout a tough race and finished in third position. A close run result!
The men’s crew also started well, moving swiftly into second position. The bridge turn was negotiated with aplomb before the hard fought home run saw another third place trophy!
The race of the day came in the mixed crew event. After a fifteen second time penalty, the Blakeney crew was at the back of the field. Incredibly, they worked their way past their rivals to achieve second place. This was a monumental piece of coxing and rowing which drew cheers and gasps from the spectators. The best trophy of the whole event!
The overall trophy for most second and third places was retained and awarded in the clubhouse afterwards. Many thanks to King’s Lynn Coastal Rowing Club for organising and hosting a brilliant competitive event. Thanks also to Tom H and Alan C for towing.
The pictures below give a flavour of the day. More to follow …
Two pictures of recent outings at Blakeney. Nice to see new rowers coming along to enjoy the experience.
Thanks to Adrian and Rosemary for their account:
Here are a few images of Bluejacket on the Deben River at Woodbridge in front of the famous Tide Mill and moored next to a barge. We were there for the launch of Whisstock, a new St Ayles skiff built by the Woodbridge Coastal Rowing Club. The skiff is named after the boatyard which stood on the Woodbridge waterfront from 1926 to 1990 and has been constructed over the last year in The Longshed which will be the building home of a full-sized replica of the Sutton Hoo grave ship. The Mayor and Drum band kept the heavy showers at bay for our time afloat. The water was shared with another new boat, a pirouge, which had been built by youngsters who really enjoyed their first excursion on the wet stuff.
Hopefully the Woodbridge boat will visit Blakeney before too long.
On a different note, congratulations to everyone who has attended FIrst Aid courses in the past year. Now 18 members have current First Aid certificates and 16 of the 21 Authorised Rowers. There may be more who have not recorded their achievements.