Ullapool St Ayles Skiff World Championship

A long but beautiful trip through the Highlands with Hoi Larntan bobbing along on the trailer behind us in the sunshine. As we manoeuvred down the ramp to the Wee Pier, it started raining! Typical.

The following morning the weather gods had relented and we had wall to wall sunshine right through the week.

Launching against a rather different background to Blakeney:

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We rowed her round to the far beach beyond the harbour and found our spot. Number 45 as we are the 45th boat launched in the UK.

The main focus was on the arrival of HRH Princess Royal who was coming to perform the official opening. Alan Collett was detailed off to meet her (being the only one of our party with a clean shirt and jacket). The rest of us rowed out to be part of the row-past with our Norfolk flag flying proudly. Later HRH came to inspect our new oars and was as amazed as we were at the variety of lengths and shapes of oars in use.

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P.S. Alan now has ‘By Royal Appointment’ on his tee-shirt.

It soon became clear that some of the teams had been at this rather longer than we had. Coigach, North Berwick and Ullapool had large teams (30 or so) of rowers for each age group, male, female and mixed.

Our team, Vicky, Elaine, Antonia, Lynn, Micheal (stet) Holliday, David Slator, Adrian, Andy, Robin, Tom and Ian had to cover the Over 40, Over 50, Over 60 and Open categories male, female and mixed! We struggled with Under 17s but were able to draft in reserves – Lynn from the USA, Morag from Scotland and Rob from North Berwick when we ran out of crew!

Mike Gilbert was with us for a couple of days then, once racing started, Andy and Elaine took over coxing. Elaine flourished and obviously having recently watched a re-run of Ben Hur drove her chariot crews on with enormous vigour and success. Andy shared the burden and managed to shout himself hoarse driving us to greater heights than we ever anticipated.

We made some finals (best 7 from each heat – 14 in a final), we didn’t win any finals – but we were not last in any race.

Each evening there were sprint races over a 250 metre course in the sheltered harbour – one minute 16 seconds of flat out effort – or one minute 29 seconds in our case.

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Fantastic fun, great people, beautiful setting and the whole of Ullapool set out to make the event the success it was – a hard act to follow.

CRABlakeney came 16th out of 31 entries in the Chamionship table, beaten by a Dutch crew ahead of the Australians and US teams, but mixing it with clubs with greater experience than we have – well done all who rowed and coxed.

Our support team of wives, girl-friends and helpers did a grand job and the apres row was equally memorable!

We even had our own piper to see us launch and return:

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