Monster the Loch report

Monster the Loch was billed as the first mass participation boat race on Loch Ness, with a marathon length of 21.5 miles. Queensferry rowed it as a game of two halves, with one crew taking on Fort Augustus to  Foyers and a second Foyers to Dores. The report is also a game of two halves, with Liz writing up the first leg and Ruari the second.

Photo by Liz Furrie

First leg

Liz writes: We rocked up on the Friday night to a muddy field just outside Fort Augustus and the sight of multiple rowing craft of every shape and size including to our delight another eight skiffs, including the unmistakable Soy Quine. Ferry Lass was left safe and sound on her trailer ready to be unloaded in the am. We made our way to Drumnadrochit for a good meal and a minor libation before an early night, dreaming of conquering the monster.

Next morning dawned grey and misty, perfect weather for monster dodging and atmospheric rowing. We arrived at said field to a hive of activity as the mist rolled across the water. We now had 13 skiffs from all over Scotland plus a number of sculls, including the GB men’s eight! It transpired that two pedaloes were also attempting the race but had started early at 07:30, poor souls.

Photo by Liz Furrie

In true skiffie style everyone lent a hand and all the beautiful skiffs were lined up on the shore of Loch Ness in short order, ready to attempt the 21.5 miles to Dores. Due to the popularity of the challenge at QRC we had two crews raring to go, which meant we could do a crew swap at Foyers allowing everyone to experience this amazing loch. We decided that Anne P and Maria would share coxwain and stroke duties, with Mel in number 3, Steph in 2 and Liz in bow.

Photo by Anne Purcell

Anne P was to take first duty as cox and under her masterful instruction we made our way to the somewhat haphazard start line. This was a truly wonderful experience with all manner of rowing craft vying for the best place. We found ourselves next to a ladies eight from Inverness Rowing Club and had a good bit of banter with them before the start was called, and we were off. We kept up with the women’s eight for the first five strokes then they took off (we found out at the end they did the 21.5 miles in 2 hours 48 minutes- phew!).

Burghead also had an all women’s crew for the first half, so they were our target for the race within a race. Maria set a fantastic stroke, long and measured with a perfect pause just before the catch. She was truly metronomic, averaging 24 strokes/minute for the first hour with distance travelled per stroke of 6 meters, covering nearly 9 km/hour, this was great rowing in very calm conditions, no wind or waves yet!

Burghead took an early lead but our relentless pace hinted them down and we passed them after 25 minutes gaining distance every stroke. The wind started to get up from the west and we started to get good surfing waves. It was also time for the swap in stroke and P came in to a very different type of rowing, with a combination of hard pulls to get us out of troughs and fast stroke to keep us on the waves. It was exhilarating and exciting, with the crew working together to perfect this fun technique. Steph was really enjoying her first long race row. Our stroke rate was moving between 28 and 40 strokes per minute to keep with the waves and we were moving at >12 km/hour on the tops of the waves.

We arrived in Foyers after 1 hour and 55 minutes ready to swap crews and have a well earned second breakfast.

Photo by Ruari Sutherland

Second leg

Ruari writes: Standing on the shore at Foyers – water lapping, mist clearing – we waited for the first crew to arrive. As the Maid emerged from the mist, we cheered her and her crew in, before executing a relatively extended crew-change – keeping Maria as cox and now with myself, Anne F, Tracey and Jennifer on the oars.

This was less a race, and more of a mass-start endurance row. We shared the water with Olympic rowers, pedaloes, and everything in between. Falling into a nice rhythm, we set to the task – pulling some stronger sets every now and then to keep our focus. As we got into our stride, we were passed by a strong Burghead crew, who had clearly had their Weetabix!

The loch was still and calm – though we managed to catch a few small waves which carried us onward toward the finish line. Passing a pedalo flying the Welsh flag we cheered on the foolhardy crew, whose legs were likely seizing up. We later learned that they were taking on the challenge in memory of 13-year-old Tom Walker, and raising money for a 3 year PhD studentship to research acute myeloid leukaemia.

Reaching the half-way point, we passed Urquhart Castle – the imposing ruin on the loch’s western shore. This gave us a bit of a boost, and we even briefly considered a detour from our 10 mile leg to get a closer look (we decided against it…). Pulling alongside a lone rower in a single scull, we exchanged pleasantries – admiring his shark-mouth paintwork and totem Nessie – before returning our attention to our own boat.

Pulling on, we chewed through the remaining kilometres in good spirits, and with good weather. As we neared the fish farm – a kilometre from the finish – we agreed that we’d empty the tanks, and arrive in style. Gritting our teeth we dug in and pulled the Maid hard to the line, to the strains of a pair of young pipers on the shores of Dores.

The event is in its infancy, and there’s no denying that a few organisational tweaks would be welcome. The atmosphere was great, though, and the opportunity to work your way up the waters of Loch Ness – with its breath-taking scenery, rich history and enticing folklore – is not to be sniffed at. Returning home that evening (with the obligatory stuffed Nessie procured for little’un), I looked at my blistered hands and smiled; I’d be very tempted to Monster the whole Loch next time!

Monster the Loch results Spoiler: the fastest time was set by the Olympians!
Photo gallery (including a cracking shot of the second crew in action)
Film focusing on the GB eight – thanks to Tracey for the link


Tides for the week of 14-20 October

Dónal writes: It looks like we have enough water at the weekend, low tide on Saturday is at the lower limit but I think we will get away with it.

Monday 14th October
0902—0.9m L. 1609 — 5.6 m H. 2122 – 1.0 m L

Tuesday 15th October
0938 — 0.9 m L 1643 — 5.6 m H 2158 — 1.0 m L.

Wednesday 16th October
1008 — 0.9 m L 1718 — 5.6 m H. 2227 — 1.1 m L

Thursday 17th October
1032 — 1.0 m L 1755 — 5.5 m H. 2250 — 1.2 m L

Friday 18th October
1058 — 1.2 m L. 1834 — 5.3 m H. 2316 — 1.3 m L

Saturday 19th October
0655 — 5.3 m H. 1131 — 1.4 m L. 1915 — 5.2 m H

Sunday 20th October
0740 — 5.1 m H. 1212 — 1.8 m L. 2001 — 5.0 m H

Two crews enjoyed a row to Port Laing on Monday. Photo by Dónal


Tides for 7-13 October

Dónal writes: Here are the tides for the coming week. Saturday looks to be a causing an issue as low tide is at 0827 of 0.5m I think that Social Rowing on Saturday should be at 10 or 1030

Monday 7th October
1031—3.5m H. 1643 — 1.9 m L. 2253 – 3.5 m H

Tuesday 8th October
0525 — 1.5 m L 1155 — 3.6 m H 1801 — 1.7 m L.

Wednesday 9th October
0631 — 1.3 m L 1252 — 3.8 m H. 1854 — 3.8 m H

Thursday 10th October
0717 — 1.0 m L 1334 — 4.1 m H. 1934 — 1.2 m L

Friday 11th October
0755 — 0.7 m L. 1408 — 4.3 m H. 2008 — 1.0 m H

Saturday 12th October
0827 — 0.5 m L. 1439 — 4.5 m H. 2040 — 0.8 m L

Sunday 13th October
0858 — 0.3 m L. 1509 — 4.7 m H. 2110 — 0.6 m L

Tides for the week of 30 September to 6 October

Dónal writes: I can’t believe that is already October. Congratulations to all those who Monstered the Loch and all those who Rowed the Tweed on Saturday. I hope you all had a great time.

This weekend we have rowing on both Saturday and Sunday, hopefully Tropical Storm/Hurricane Lorenzo won’t cause us to much trouble at the weekend but we’ll keep an eye on things and see how it pans out.

Monday 30th September
1003—0.5m L. 1615 — 5.4 m H. 2220 – 0.3 m L

Tuesday 1st October
1046 — 0.3 m L 1657 — 5.2 m H 2302 — 0.7 m L.

Wednesday 2nd October
1129 — 0.1 m L 1738 — 5.0 m H. 2345 — 0.2 m L

Thursday 3rd October
0558 — 5.0 m H 1213 — 0.4 m L. 1821 — 4.6 m H

Friday 4th October
0648 — 4.5 m H. 1300 — 0.9 m L. 1908 — 4.2 m H

Saturday 5th October
0745 — 4.1 m H. 1356 — 1.4 m H. 2005 — 3.8 m H

Sunday 6th October
0958 — 3.7 m H. 1511 — 1.8 m L. 2122 — 3.9 m H

Saturday’s Tweed Row. Photo by Douglas Carse

Tweed Row report

Louise writes: In a departure from the usual Sunday event, this year’s Tweed Row took place on Saturday and was happily a glorious day sandwiched between two poor days. Twenty boats took part this year, mainly from the south-east, though Renegade made the long trip from the west with both their boats and were welcomed by everyone.
Photo by Louise Innes
There were seven of us from QRC, which might have been an awkward number for either (over)filling the boat or swapping at Paxton House but thanks to Portobello, Rachel went up as a passenger in their boat and Duncan and Douglas rowed down river; we are still puzzling as to where they lost two of their crew.
Those who had not done the row before marvelled at the quick succession of the 1624 Berwick Bridge, the Royal Tweed Bridge of 1928 and the impressive Royal Border Bridge opened in 1850 and still carrying the East Coast main railway line.
There followed the tricky stretch of the river where coxes need to navigate the channel and keep away from the extensive shallows on both sides of the river. The new bypass bridge was soon passed and crew could enjoy lovely open countryside interspersed with salmon fishing bothies and ice-houses.
After a two hour row into wind, and against a strong flow on the river, everyone was ready for their picnic with many clubs sharing their sufficiency round anyone who looked hungry. This was a colourful scene with many Northumberland boats in bright seaside paint schemes.
Photo by Douglas Carse
With picnics enjoyed and packed away, many boats continued up river to the Union Chain Bridge, opened in 1820, with a rare view through the trees of Paxton House. Here we came across a flotilla of slide-seat boats about to race down river at speeds only dreamed of by skiff rowers.
Turning at the bridge we benefited from the wind behind us, a flow strengthened by recent rain, a falling tide and 45 minutes later we were back on the beach at Spittal in the mouth of the river.
The weather was perfect, with most crew down to T-shirts for the return row, and fantastic camaraderie that makes our skiff community such a happy group to be involved with. Such was the amazing spread of food and cake at every stage of the day, that despite the calories expended, everyone finished the day feeling more than replete.
Thanks to the Dunbar club for once again organising this lovely social event. I am already looking forward to next year’s Tweed Row and renewing friendships made.