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‘Lass’ crews prove winning stamina..but who’s Dennis?

August 30, 2010

There’s Dennis! On the bow oar in the winning boat! In front of him Alan, Mark and Nick pulling in the good, strong, solid style the Coigach Lass is becoming well known for. Di, (Cox)  giving it laldy over the wind and spray. (Click on the photos to enlarge. Thanks to NB Rowing Club for use of pics.)

Was a rough old day at the North Berwick Boat Muster on Saturday but the men’s and women’s long-distance crews of Nick, Alan, Mark, Ish, Alison, Louise, Sue and Di the cox couldn’t wait to get out on the water – even with the prospect of an over 2-mile row through a good swell, wind and white tops round Craigleith Island which could be seen way in the distance, hunkering down, gannet bestrewn, in the Firth of Forth!

Hang on you’ll be saying. She’s missed out a male crew member…only three names there.

Nope. We left Achiltibuie  a man short hoping to borrow beg or steal a spare, strapping, powerhouse of a rower from another community to fill the spare place on the Men’s Team bow oar. If all else failed I was to take the oar and I was secretly, desperately hoping……..!

But only minutes before the first race – there was Dennis from North Berwick- volunteering… only rowed two or three times he told us but before you could say Tom Norrie (who was Tom Norrie??) we had a Coigach Lass lifejacket on him  and he was in the boat with the men’s team having a stream of instructions  barked at him from all sides and a jumble of tactics rained down on his head.

‘One at a time please!’ the shore party of us Coigach Lass women heard him wail as the instructions flew at him from all sides as the oars went in the water ….and before he had time to change his mind the Lass was off round to the Start – bobbing in the considerable chop.

Well, he must have been doing something right because the Lass was in the lead from first off, was first to turn round the back of Craigleith, lost it a bit, then were first boat round the rock!

Click on the photo above to enlarge and get an indication of how rough it was. Di steered an excellent course; close but not too close to the sheer cliff at the back of the rock. Crew members shouted suggestions…’Shut up you lot! I’m the bloody cox here; we’ll go where I bloomin’ well steer!’ put paid to any interference from the crew.  (Well, to be fair, she had slept the night before on the back seat of the Lass‘s tow vehicle in a sleeping bag so thin and flimsy that you could have shelled peas through it, emerged hoarse and grumpy in her Damarts at a chilly seven in the morning complaining bitterly that she was never going to camp again as she stomped furiously off to the distant toilet block. Good pre-race coxing preparation we all agreed!)

And then our men were on the home straight… a gutsy fight against wind, wave and aching lungs to keep the North Berwick crew on their home patch from making sea on them….And look (above) at Dennis from North Berwick in the bow pulling like a hero! Click on the photo to enlarge -it’s a topper! Hope he’s not been sent to Coventry for helping the opposition!

Spectators could hear Di shouting the stoke numbers at the crew above the wind even as the Coigach Lass crossed the line a convincing way ahead of the opposition. A fantastic effort and a good win !

With the threat of worsening weather  the Women’s Crew of  (stroke to bow) Louise, Ish, Alison and Sue, though eligible for the later Women’s over 40, decided to go for it in the Women’s open round the rock.Here they are (centre of picture – above Portobello’s spiffy skiff the  ‘Ice Breaker’ and below Port Seton’s bonnie  ‘Boatie Rows’ and North Berwick’s bright blue ‘St Baldred’ ready to ramp it up for a fast start; Di coxing again.

The testing – and frightening -lumpy journey out to the Rock… pulling away from the ‘Ice Breaker’ in this shot.

Going well and just in the lead at the rock… but the unexpected happened. Louise’s stroke oar kabe (the stout lump of oak that her oar pulls against) split and broke and vital rowing time was  lost as the spare kabe was banged down into place to allow Louise to row. And all this happening as the boat was being lobbed around by wind,  waves and swell. What guts the crew had to carry on! Thanks to the three NB safety boats for just being there!

The women’s crew never recovered the lead though a fantastic effort was made and our women had to content themselves with a close second. Well done though! And well done the women of Port Seton’s winning ‘Boatie Rows’!

Sadly the weather was even worse when we woke from our  camping slumbers on Sunday morning hoping to take part in a number of shorter races-  including the Mixed 55+ to be crewed by new Coigach Lass rowers Bill and Jean from Tanera and old hands Lesley and Ken W.

Not looking good as the wind whipped even the sheltered glades of our campsite. Didn’t stop Mark getting the black pudding, sausage and bacon on the stove and Nick, having soaked the oats the night before, whipping up a rib-sticking pan of porridge for the rowers. Good stuff! Spirits were still high and hopeful but as we got sight of the sea on leaving camp for the harbour the leaping white horses spelled out in sprays of lacy spume the end of our racing hopes for the day.

Thanks to all the other skiffies for the usual great craic and banter and particular thanks to Robbie and Jan and all at North Berwick Rowing Club and the Sailing Club for first class hospitality. See y’all next year.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gordon and Christine Smith permalink
    September 9, 2010 9:50 am

    What a wonderful website, fanastic descriptions and photographs, for people who miss Coigach as much as we do we feel still in touch with the place just reading about all your fun times with the Lass, best of luck to you all.

  2. September 10, 2010 12:24 pm

    Hello Gordon and Christine! Great to hear from you. You are of course still missed in Polbain and often thought of! Glad you are enjoying the blog. There is another one you might like to have a look at http://ccdcompany.wordpress.com. All sorts of Coigach news on that one! Are you planning a trip north this year?
    Hope this finds you both in good health.
    All the best and thanks for your good luck wishes to the ‘Lass’ and her crews. (We will be down racing in Anstruther at the end of May next year so come along and cheer!)

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