The Green Oak

The Royal West Regatta was held on Saturday 6th July and was a wee bit special to TCRC. It was the first public outing for our new skiff, Marjorie Jeffrey. I think its fair to say, she didn’t disappoint, gained a few new admirers and travelled down the A78 with her head held high.

Royal West are located in Greenock and their regatta is always well run and a warm welcome is provided to their fabulous facilities on the banks of the Clyde. We love how stories permeate through the ages and love that the etymology of “Greenock” is apparently from “The green oak that stood on the banks of The Clyde where local fisherman tied up their boats”. To be honest we couldn’t find the green oak and the beach was fine for leaving our new darling. Let’s not bust that myth though and keep that image going.

The club has fabulous facilities that are surely the envy of any coastal rowing club.

The club was formed in 1866 and originates from when the houses next to the Clyde had access to the water for their boats. Many of the “younger gentlemen” residing here kept their rowing and fishing boats close at hand. Progress however got in the way when, during construction of the new Albert Harbour, the quarried stone was used to construct the current esplanade along the waterfront and cutting these individuals off from their craft. Not to be outdone, after a hastily convened meeting in a local hotel, and the appropriate people petitioned, the club was formed and a clubhouse proposed in its current position proposed. Not hanging about, the plans were submitted twelve days later, contracts awarded and construction organised. You won’t be surprised to hear the official opening was delayed due to rain. Even at that point, the opening was celebrated with a few small drinks! The club thrived with world class oarsman in its ranks and more than a few characters. In 1877 when Queen Victoria visited Loch Maree, the club provided her majesty with “the handsomest gig procurable in the West coast of Scotland”  (If only they could see MJ now perhaps we would argue that assertion). Victoria was “rowed across the loch by six stalwart Highlanders”. Some years later the club received its royal warrant and became Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club we know today.

A healthy seventeen members of Troon Coastal Rowing club attended the regatta.

Seven clubs attended including Royal West, Troon, Prestwick, FOCCRs, Arran, Anstruther and Royal Gourock.

The regatta consisted of; Open Men, Open Women, Mixed Open and the Dan Kane Novice Race(In memory of one of the Royal West Rowers). These  were a 500m Sprint from a point East of the Royal West clubhouse to a finish line off The Royal West Beach. There were two heats with the first two in each heat then competing in a final. The first two boats in each heat remained on the water until the event was finished.

The Mixed 240 was a 1500m triangular course. The course from the bay in front of the club, North to Whiteforeland buoy with a starboard turn around it, then south east back to main course start buoy with a second starboard turn before racing west to the main course finish line. This race was timed.

Each club had the opportunity to play a Joker card which doubled the points for one of the main races (excluding the Andy race and the fun event). The Andy race was the same course as the 240 mixed, with each boat consisting of four rowers from other clubs. This race was also timed.

The “fun element” of the day was to have each boat demonstrating a 360 degree turn within the bay and further information provided on the day. More on this later.

The first race of the day was the Open Men category. Chrstine C was cox for this race with Kevin in stroke, Neil in three, Michael in two and Paul in bow. The guys turned on turbo power approaching the finishing line and won their first heat. In the final, the crew fought a hard race against Arran, who had played their joker, and crossed the line six seconds ahead of Arran to take the first race. Marjorie Jeffrey’s first ever victory was in the bag.

The second race of the day was the Open Women.

 For this race, Kevin took the cox seat with Christine C swapping her last seat for this one. Julie was in seat three with Lizzie in two and Kirsty W in bow. This was a tough race with strong opposition. The Troon ladies got through their heat but were pipped into third place, a mere four seconds behind FOCCRs and six seconds behind the formidable Anstruther ladies team.

The third race of the day was the Open Mixed with Christine C swapping seats yet again and jumping into the cox seat. Adrian was in stroke with Julie in three. Lizzie stayed in seat two for a back to back race and Neil joined them in bow. The guys won their heat and progressed through to the final against tough competition.  Just to make matters interesting The Waverly paid us all a visit and brought a travelling rain storm along with it heading “doon the water”.  As soon as it was out of sight, the sun popped out but left them tougher conditions. The guys were awesome in a tough race finishing nine seconds ahead of Anstruther and FOCCRs a mere second behind them.

The next race was the Mixed Novice race in memory of former Royal West member Dan Kane.

The success of our club has meant that we don’t have novices for too long which causes some problems when competing in a regatta. Days before the regatta TCRC had resigned itself to not being able to enter this race until our Troon Viking warriors stepped up and offered to join us. Christine C remained in the cox seat with Lee, one of our newest members on stroke. David B, with sailing activities slightly curtailed, took seat three. Silvia and Harriet both sneaked away from the kids for the day and took seats two and bow respectively. After winning the first heat, the guys went on to win and finished eight seconds ahead of FOCCRs and Arran one second behind FOCCRs. Novices no more. To say the guys were happy would be an understatement and the noise from the beach was deafening.

The next race up was the Fun 360 and we had no idea what to expect but it was a non-scoring little bit of fun that would be a laugh. Or so we thought just before we heard it was to be a scored event consisting of a 100 metre sprint with a 360 degree turn (in any direction) added at any point but not at the immediate start. A hastily formed crew was press ganged arranged and left the beach in a hurry. At this point everyone from TCRC had their own cunning plan on what to do and when to do it but, in good leadership style, our cox Christine C took charge. Port back paddle and Starboard paddle to get round after a racing start. The hastily organised crew was Paul on stroke, Jackie on three, Steve on two and Michael in bow. To say it wasn’t the prettiest turn may be an understatement but the boat turned. With a cracking start and a second great start after the turn, the boat romped home to win the heat and finish with the fastest time. Another race win for Troon and more vital points in the bank. The sixth race of the day, and the final scoring race, was the Mixed 240+. Paul swapped seats from stroke and moved into the cox position. Christine C, now feeling like she was living in the boat and understanding how Mike R often feels, moved from the cox seat to stroke. Adrian took seat three, Kevin seat two and Kirsty W sat in bow.

At this point the overall regatta scores were very close with Troon in the lead, FOCCRs close behind and then Anstruther. Troon had saved its Joker for this very occasion. The course was changed to the much longer 1500m triangular course and the clubs set off in two tranches. Troon, in the first group, taking care to avoid passing gin palaces, finished comfortably first with a great time of 10 minutes 28 seconds. The second group headed off and ploughed through the choppy waters of the Clyde. It was a nail biting finish but in the end FOCCRs won the battle finishing six seconds faster. The Joker however played its part and double points for second place were awarded to Troon and winning the regatta.

The last “fun” element of the day was the now famous Andy Race. Building boats is easy compared to getting seven clubs to line up and listen to an allocated number but in the end everyone knew where they were going.

Four “volunteers” from TCRC, Christine B, Jackie, Derek and Steve were allocate their boat with Steve lucky enough to be sent to MJ with Paul as cox (or so he thought). The course was the previous 1500m triangular course. To say it was an interesting row for Paul, Steve and MJ would be an understatement. To more mature TCRC members, think Errol Flynn repelling boarders with sword in mouth and to the youngsters, think Captain Jack Sparrow standing on the sinking boat. The cox in the boat next to MJ clearly didn’t believe in rules and repeatedly clashed oars, caused course corrections and finally tried to decapitate Paul with boats coming to a complete stop. Steely eyed Paul brought his crew under orders and raced on. It was all fun after all. The other guys had much more traditional races with both Christine and Derek winning medals in their boats.

Timings for each race are shown below and show how well the teams did on the day.

The final results for the day were:

Troon finished overall first with 45 points and FOCCRs were second with 39 points and Marjorie Jeffrey wins her first regatta.

It would be remis of us not to acknowledge the success of Marjorie Jeffrey. The sheer number of admirers was impressive and a testament to the many members involved in her construction. Its safe to say she wasn’t just the new girl on the beach but definitely the prettiest and fastest. We were particularly proud when a professional painter wanted to know all the details of her “incredible paint job”. The individual was clearly very knowledgeable and acknowledged the difficulties and skill involved in such a high quality finish. He had painted a number of skiffs previously and was simply in awe of our girl. 

TCRC supporters were again in attendance to support the regatta crew. Unusually, one of our supporters was Mike K, who would normally be found in the boat couldn’t keep away despite not competing. He brought along a “slightly reluctant and bored” Leeloo who politely watched the rowing whilst sniffing out any “lost” lunches or snacks.

In addition to these guys, we swear the seal that popped its head up mid race was the Troon seal heard barking “timing”, “together”, “timing”, or is that really Mike R.

Forthcoming Regattas

The next regatta is Stranraer Regatta on Saturday 20th July. If you are interested in joining us for this or future regattas then feel free to talk to any regatta regulars and we will welcome you with open arms.

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