Castle to Crane – “Rowing, rowing, rowing on the river”

Castle to Crane is billed as “Scotland’s biggest open water rowing race”. With 39 entries in this years event and a mixture of boat types including; St Ayles skiffs, Cornish skiffs, a Shetland Yole amongst others, it was always going to be a great adventure. The 13 mile long course (21 Kilometres) starts at Dumbarton Castle, sitting on the imposing Dumbarton rock, and finishes at The StobCross Crane. Yeah, we all know it as The “Finnieston Crane” and blatantly refuse to use its official name but that’s another story. What an incredible race through Scotland’s history from the 1st century and finishing in the 20th century.

Castle to Crane started as part of the Clydebuilt festival in 2017 to celebrate the maritime history of the Clyde. This is the fourth time Troon Coastal Rowing Club have participated in the race and it’s clearly a favourite for many.

This years crew in Ailsa Lass were Paul (Cox), Adrienne (Stroke), Mike D (3), Michael B (2) and Kathleen in bow.

With such a historic and inspirational starting point, Michael complemented the magnificent sight by demonstrating his prowess for historical facts and  informed the crew that nearby Dumbarton FC are known as “The sons of the Rock”. As Adrienne said “Every day is a school day”.

The event was a first for Michael, Adrienne and Kathleen. Paul and Mike had both competed in the event previously. When asked about impressive sights on their journey, the Erskine Bridge was the top response. How high that must have seen from a St. Ayles skiff!

Disappointingly and very topical, was the amount of floating detritus including plastics floating by. Paul described the amount of timber and logs in the river. He highlighted “steering around all that I saw but occasionally hearing the thump-bump-bump-rumble as larger submerged pieces rolled along the bottom of the hull”.

There were many high points of the day but it was a race after all and for the majority overtaking the local Glasgow team was high on the list.

Its worth highlighting the support from TCRC members and family on the day. Steven Bargh, Kathleen’s husband, followed the crew from start to finish “popping up and shouting encouragement along the way”. The rest of the TCRC supporters (Neil, Kevin, Mike R, Christine R, Louise D and Michael’s cheerleaders) provided active encouragement throughout the race. This support was unanimously highlighted by the entire crew and “gave them an extra oomph” along the way. Well done team TCRC.

The guys rowed an incredible race and finished first in their category winning the Mixed 50+ race with an incredible time of 2:08:36 after overtaking the home team on the finishing straight.

Comparing that time with all St Ayles skiffs and irrespective of category (male/female/age) they recorded the third fastest time overall. What an incredible achievement.

It was clearly a great day out for all involved and another trophy heading back to Troon but when each was asked if they would swap coastal rowing in Troon for rowing the Clyde, the answer was a unanimous and resounding “No way”.

After a couple of celebratory beers, some food and tall stories of “massive floating trees with natives throwing rocks” or “the tree that was definitely a crocodile” according to Kathleen,  the team returned to Troon for another day on the water.

Thanks to Neil and Kevin for being the roving photographers for the day.

Leave a comment