Bringing home medals from a blustery Scottish Championships

The Scottish Rowing Championships were held at Strathclyde Park on the 8th and 9th of June with all the rowing clubs in Scotland fielding crews aiming to become Scottish Champions.  Inverness Rowing Club (IRC) travelled down with a strong contingent of junior, senior and masters rowers forming a selection of crews and making use of some of the boats recently purchased as part of the club redevelopment which has the aim of expanding the northernmost flat water rowing community.  Attending Scottish Rowing’s showpiece regatta certainly ranks as one of the big highlights of the Scottish Rowing Calendar, with the opportunity to race against, and watch, the best rowers in Scotland.
Tough conditions as crews battle up through the waves towards the start
Saturday provided some character building conditions with a strong tail wind down the 2km course whipping up significant chop in the second half, and proving a tough challenge to even get to the start (having to row up into the wind and waves).  Nonetheless it was a strong start for IRC, taking the Masters C-E 2- title with an IRC/St Andrew BC composite crew (A. Dobson & S. Andrews).  This success was quickly followed up by a win in the J14 2x from S. Hammock & R. Roxburgh.  Conditions worsened through the day and despite no further wins for Inverness a huge amount of valuable experience was gained: rowing in such conditions is extremely challenging with even very talented crews struggling at times.
The winning J14 2x
Sunday dawned brighter and the forecast was for dropping winds as the day went on.  Strong performances were seen from Inverness crews throughout the day, with some success in the B finals (Nov 2x A. Hopkins & T. Latham, and WNovice 4x+ L. Sproull, N. Chasheva, J. Bromham, L. Ronald & J. McManus [cox]) but it was the turn of the singles to shine, featuring in some extremely tight and hard fought finals.  The Novice 1x was up first with S. Andrews taking silver, only losing out by 0.76 seconds. S. Roxburgh then took a strong bronze in the J16 1x, racing in a composite field including J18 and Open category rowers, a number of whom he beat.  One of the most exciting races of the day featured Inverness sculler S. Hammock who was edged out of 2nd place by just 0.05 seconds and was only 0.69 seconds away from first in a race in which the lead was constantly changing.  A brilliant race to be involved in and to watch.
The ladies 4x+ enjoying the calm waters down at the start
The focus of Inverness rowers will shortly be turning to The Inverness Head, held over our own 4.5km course on the Caledonian Canal in November, with crews forming and starting to build in the training sessions.  Inverness Rowing Club is always looking to attract new or returning rowers.  If interested in rowing more information can be found here: 
The winning Mas 2- composite crew

Catching up on a busy summer so far…..

Junior Inter Regional Regatta – Nottingham 20th April

This is the first year that Scotland were invited to attend the Junior Inter Regional Regatta and 2 Inverness athletes were selected for the squad, following their excellent results at the Inverness Head in March.  Both did extremely well in what was a new experience for them with Sam Roxburgh finishing in 12th in the J16 single and Shay Hammock taking bronze in the J15 1x A Final (2nd boats), just missing out on silver  one 100th of a second.

Beach Sprints GB Trials & English Beach Sprint Championships – Bournemouth 27-28th April

Heather Gordon has been taking to the choppier waters of the beach sprint world, competing at a number of sprint regattas that have been held throughout the UK.  Most notably she placed fourth in the GB trials that were held in Bournemouth and followed that up with a third place in the English Beach Sprint Championships that were held the following day.

Scottish Spring Regatta 27-28th April

A large Inverness contingent headed south for what was the first multi-lane regatta of the season for many of them.  The weather smiled and the water was a lot less challenging that we have come to expect at Strathclyde Park.

Great performances on the Saturday saw Inverness take home silver in the J14 1x (Shay Hammock), narrowly squeezed out of the gold position, gold and bronze in the Novice 1x (Sam Roxburgh and Victor Atkinson) and a strong 4th in a hard fought final of the WJ15 4x with Hannah McManus taking a seat in a composite crew with members of Stirling RC.

Our successful Saturday scullers

Sunday was busy for both the juniors and the seniors who joined in the fun.  Lots of experience was gained throughout the club with a number of first time races at a multi-lane regatta and those that competed in singles over 1000m on the Saturday stepping up to the 2000m course on the Sunday.  Notably Sam Roxburgh came away with a bronze in the J16 1x.  It was the turn of the J14 doubles next, and somewhat mixed fortunes with Felix Latham and Wilbur Grant unfortunately capsizing after tangling with a buoy (although dealing with the situation admirably) and Robin Roxburgh and Shay Hammock storming through their heat and final to take a convincing gold.  The two crews then combined to take a well earned silver in the J14 4x+ with Hannah McManus coxing.

For many of the seniors competing it was the first time racing in a side by side regatta and although no medals were to be making their way back up the road with them, lots of experience was gained which will stand them in good stead for upcoming events.  A special mention must also go to the junior, Jessica Douglas, who traveled all the way down just to cox the senior crews.  Now everyone is looking forward to the rest of the regatta season.

Inverness Winter Head 2024: 6 Divisions & 1 downpour

With 682 entries received across all boat classes, fingers, and anything else crossable, was crossed that the weather would be kind, and no freak localised and stubborn fog patches would stop play this time.  Cool with a gentle breeze was on order and it was therefore a bit of a surprise to pull back the curtains on Saturday morning to see to snow falling.  Luckily the snow cleared and all looked set for a great weekends racing.  To try to lessen the time spent marshalling each day was being split in to three divisions for the first time.  This also seemed to make getting on to the water a bit more relaxed.

EUBC enjoying perfect water to set the fastest time of the weekend

The first division went off bang on time but unfortunately for most of the small boats this coincided with a brief but almighty downpour of sleety rain – unlikely to have been able to get more wet if the racers had capsized!  The water was however perfectly flat and the drenching distracted minds from the effort that was being applied. Luckily that was the last of the precipitation to be seen and the sun had an ever increasing prominence in proceedings.  EUBC sent down the fastest boat in the first division recording an impressive 14:08 in their Open 8+.  IRC had to settle for some very tight second places.

Bethan Hinkley and Heather Gordon on their way to victory in the WR1 2x

Division 2 produced the first medal for IRC with Bethan Hinkley and Heather Gordon leading the way in their WR1 2x (18:36).  EUBC were back in their 8+ for Division 3 as a time only entry and managed to set the fastest time of the weekend by knocking 7 seconds off of their morning effort.

Sunday dawned bright and still.  Tom Baker and Jim Smillie took advantage of the fantastic conditions to win the Mas 2x.  And the medals kept coming for IRC in Division 2 with Shay Hammock taking first place in the J14 1x (19:59) and Mary Clouston winning the WMas Novice 1x. The success continued in Division 3 with Heather Gordon winning the WR1 1x in 19:51 and Gary Hunt and Sophie Baker sharing the Mix Mas 2x spoils with Dave Rothwell and Jude McManus in a dead heat.  The fastest ladies crew of the weekend was St Andrew Boat Clubs WR1 8+ with a time of 16:48.

The IRC winners / rogues gallery

A great event to draw a close to our head season and great to hear so much chatter already about the upcoming regatta season – all looking forward to what we hope will be some warm summer days competition.  Finally, it was brilliant to see so many people enjoying the racing and so many of our own crews progress in experience and seeing their times coming down.  And as always a huge thanks to all of those involved in the organisation and running of what is the largest head race in Scotland.

Fours, Small Boats and Fog

As now seems traditional the winds dropped and the sun began to shine, lighting the burnt autumn colours that line the Caledonian Canal.  It could only mean that it was time for the Inverness Fours and Small Boats Head once more, this edition sponsored by Caley Marina.  With six hundred and fifteen entries the waters were only going to stay calm for so long!

The final few strokes towards the finish line [(c) Stanislav Vohnik]
As always it is fantastic to see some truly quick crews making the 4500m course fly by.  The fastest crew of the weekend was the University of St Andrews BC R1 Quad stroked by Aidan Graham making it down the course in a time of 14 minutes 48.55 seconds (that’s holding a split of 1:29 for the whole course!) and the fastest women’s crew was also from the University of St Andrews BC with their R1 Quad stroked by Lizzy Adlam in a time of 16 minutes 12.89 seconds.  The overall winner of the Head of the Caledonian Canal 2023 was St Andrew BC, breaking the strangle hold that the University of Edinburgh have had on this award for a number of years.

Winding down after Saturdays racing

It was hugely unfortunate that when Sunday came dawn never really appeared on the canal due to dense fog which persistently sat in the Inverness basin while the surrounding hills basked in the sun under clear blue skies.  The water remained flat calm and provided a beautiful row for those that could head on out after the racing was unfortunately called off for the day.

Inverness was well represented throughout the races which did go ahead on the Saturday.  A notable mention goes to the Novice 4+ stroked by Sam Roxburgh for making 2nd in their event despite being relatively new to sweep rowing.  There were wins for Inverness in the J14 singles, with Shay Hammock coming home 45 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, and the reunited composite pair of Conor Burgess (Chesterton Rowing Club) and Steven Andrews who took first place in the Masters 2- despite having a 2 year gap since their last outing.

Thanks to Stanislav Vohnik for documenting the weekend superbly – his photos can be found here.

Sunny Sprints in Aberdeen Again!

The Aberdeen Sprint Regatta is a favourite event in the Inverness Rowing Club road-trip calendar and memories of the sun-drenched banks of the Dee sat well in our memories from last years event.  With a large IRC contingent heading east it was going to be a busy day of racing. We had a bumper entry of 29 crews racing across all boat categories (it was a very full trailer!) and crews included juniors, getting their first taste of sprint racing, to experienced masters and even generational doubles.

The winning Generational 2x crew

The short, 500 m, format of the Aberdeen Sprints always provides some exciting racing but to add to this IRC came away with a number of great performances and, as a consequence, not an insignificant number of medals. The first of these came from a close race between two Inverness crews in the R2 Mixed 4+ (winning crew: were Harry Ratcliffe, Euan McLeod, Bethany Hickling and Hannah Luke with cox James Luke).  Other wins were earned in the Novice 2x (Victor Atkinson and Samuel Roxburgh) and Open J14 1x (Shay Hammock) categories.  One of the most deserved of victories was in the Generational 2x with Gary Hunt and James Luke battling through two heats before winning in the final with a convincing lead.  A further medal was earned in the Masters 2- (Robert Gordon and Dave Rothwell).  Having won their heat against a Masters “A” crew they met their long time and well-known competitors from Aberdeen Boat Club.  Due to age differences in the masters crews, the Inverness crew had to win their race by a handicap of at least 10 seconds.  The final result was declared a draw when the timing team recorded a difference of only a tenth of a second between the crews, meaning that the medals were shared.  Races certainly don’t come much closer than that!

The lovely Deeside setting

It was a fabulous day and a great experience for all those involved.  Thanks go to all the organisers, coaches, drivers and supporters that made the day a huge success.

Dates for the Inverness Fours & Small Boats Head and the Inverness Winter Head confirmed: Get training!!

The dates for the Head races run by Inverness Rowing Club have been confirmed and we look forward to hosting clubs from around the country and beyond!
Caley Marina Fours and Small Boats Head
Caledonian Canal (Start- Dochgarroch, Finish – Boathouse, Torvean)
11th (10a.m./ 1.30p.m.) & 12th November 2023 (9.30a.m./1p.m.)
Caley Cruisers Winter Head (including Scottish Student Head)
Caledonian Canal (Start- Dochgarroch, Finish – Boathouse, Torvean)
2nd (11a.m./ 2p.m.)& 3rd March 2024 (10.30a.m./1.30p.m.)

Regatta Recap

The club has been out and about throughout the summer regatta season, so far attending the Scottish Spring Regatta (22nd & 23rd April), Castle Semple Regatta (20th May) and the Scottish Championships (3rd & 4th June).
     The Scottish Spring Regatta provided a great opportunity for a number of our junior rowers to gain experience of multi-lane racing at the Strathclyde Park Course.  This was followed up with a more select squad heading down to the Castle Semple Regatta where Megan Bromham rowed in a scratch eight with members of SPRC, and in a quad in which she reached the final. Also entering the novice and J18 1x events, Megan came away with a brilliant win in the novice category!
     The Scottish Championships were next up and good contingent were looking forward to testing themselves on the Strathclyde Park Course.  Our junior members had entries across the age ranges and in some of the novice categories whilst our seniors had entries in both novice and masters events.

     For a number of the squad this was their first experience of multi lane racing and all put in strong performances, including several minor placings in the junior events.  The highlight of the weekend from an Inverness perspective was the gold medal in the masters pair, which was a first gold medal at the Scottish Championships for Dave Rothwell, our former President, 23 years since first competing there.

35th Aniversary row for the first Inverness VIII to compete on the Tideway

Last weekend provided a perfect weather window for a reunion of the Rogie Falls Boatclub, the precursor to Inverness Rowing Club (more here).  Thirty five years ago this crew made their way down to the Head of the River Race on the famous Tideway course, the same as the Boat Race course but in reverse.

Gay Faulkner (cox), Iain Morton (Str), Mark Wilson (7), Bruce Murdoch (6), Jamie MacLean (5), Alec Maciver (4), Jonny Wetherspoon (3), David Finlayson (2) and Iain Leighton (Bow) showed they still know how to row and made the most of the fine weather.  Having led to the formation of the club we all row for today we are all hugely grateful to the impetus they provided to establish rowing on the Caledonian Canal and they will always be welcome back at the club.  Getting the boat in and out of the canal is certainly easier than when this crew first started training here, when it took a 300m carry and negotiating a stile!

The Rogie Falls Boat Club reunion crew taking to the water

It’s like this all of the time!

Last weekend saw the weather settle and nearly 650 boats ready to race which can only mean one thing – it was time for the Inverness Fours and Small Boats Head.  While what seemed like the rest of the UK was being battered by wind and torrential rain the waters of the Caledonian Canal remained placid, each morning reflecting back a perfect image of the autumnal trees that line its banks, that is until the first lucky boats made their way up to the start of the head course, cutting the water and spreading rows of ripples in their wake. Is it always like this? Well, best just to say we have been lucky with the weather for the head race weekends for some time now.

So, on to the racing. For inverness we had entries in almost all boat classes – must get a coxless four entered to make the full set next time.  And we had success with our novice coxed quad, mixed masters quad and womens r1 pair all picking up medals.  Really great to see some of the newer members to the club earning medals, along with those more experienced campaigners.  Almost more encouraging was the number of Inverness crews which had been making such an effort to get out training.  Now its time to push on and buld on teh settled crews that have formed in preparation for our winter head, and other fun racing excursions to come.

As always the universities and schools had significant contingents racing and it was an EUBC/St Andrew BC mens quad (Patton) that made it down the course in the fastest time of the weekend clocking 14 minutes 40.76 seconds. The fastest women’s boat was a EUBC quad (Jonsson) that raced down the course in 16 minutes 8.15 seconds.

Of course, as always, a huge thanks to all of those that made the weekends racing happen.  It is always quite an amazing achievment and should never be taken for granted just how much work goes in to making it run, particularly with ever expanding entries.