Ullapool regatta was held on the 8th and 9th of July, and Nina and I went up with the dual roles of rowers and researchers. We weren’t sure what to expect from the weekend, because we knew from other rowers that it is considered an important event in the skiff rower’s calendar. Certainly our team mates from St Andrews had been training hard in anticipation. It is with slight embarrassment that I can admit I wasn’t in the best of shape for the regatta – and was nervous on that front! I was also nervous about doing overnight fieldwork, all the research I have been involved with so far has been within ordinary working hours, and I’ve certainly never had to camp or race with my boss before (!). Another ongoing concern I have is that rowers won’t be interested in our project, or will wonder why we’re hanging around.
I’m relieved and glad to say all the nerves were for naught. Firstly, we both survived all our races – though my technique definitely worsened over the course of my three races on the Sunday. Secondly, camping with Professor Nina Laurie is a joy (she gets up early and puts coffee on!).
Lastly, the Skiff Rowing Community, as ever, was welcoming, engaging and interested in what the Rowing the Waves project hopes to achieve. Many people that we introduced ourselves to via our launch night, or at Anstruther regatta have now been involved in the project, and it was fantastic to walk along the beach saying hello to people and being able to give them some updates on where we are with the project – as well as help when we could with lugging boats up and down from the water.
Watching the races on the Saturday was fantastic, the youth teams in particular put on a marvellous spectacle. Later in the afternoon after watching a the food preparation display in the white marquee and getting some free nibbles, a gang from St Andrews dropped two of our more more adventurous members off across the loch to the bottom of a hill which they then ascended, we went back and picked them up a couple of hours later. All super, but the best was yet to come!
Ullapool hosts put on a fantastic evening of entertainment, warming chilli dishes and a ceilidh. The food was delicious – and needed after what had turned into a very wet and windy afternoon and evening. The ceilidh was sensational. The dancefloor was always full. Nina is blessed with the ability to dance, myself less so, but I like to think that I make up for it with enthusiasm! We might have been two of the first on the dancefloor, and were definitely two of the last. Shout out to rowers from the St Ayles Club in Anstruther for making the ceilidh wonderful: Richard for his finesse at dancing and patience with less than talented dance partners, Rhona for her energy and engagement (danced with people from an array of different clubs), and Audrey, for being Audrey and having a unique take on ceilidh dancing.
It was a marvellous night, with far too much falling-over juice consumed by quite a few of us! I’m afraid that after rowing in stroke for my first race, my team mate in number 3 commented that they could smell wine – the wine that I was burning out of my system by rowing. Uh oh. I can only apologise to my crewmates!
Pleased to have survived the races it was wonderful to see hardworking crews awarded with place medals and participation medals on Sunday afternoon. It was a shame that the last race had to be cancelled, but the comings and goings of other port-users had to take precedence – if only because they’re often bigger than us! The organisation must have been a lot of work, and I know that Nina was really pleased that she got to speak to some of the organisers after the event when she stayed on for a couple of days. For me, I just want to say thanks for what was one of the most wonderful weekends! Hopefully see you next time!